Five tips on how to dine out on a plant-based diet

As the number of vegetarians, plant-based eaters, and vegans continues to grow, we’re still heavily outnumbered by omnivores.  Therefore, I’m sure there are times you find yourself in a dilemma when it’s time to dine with family or friends.  I’ve been dealing with this problem for years.  On a plant-based diet, I recommend you become knowledgeable about the lifestyle so you gain a better understanding of food options.  Below are some great suggestions on how to make your dining out experience more pleasant.

Look at the restaurant’s menu before you choose to eat there. 

Because you’re on a plant-based diet, you want to make sure the restaurant has options you can eat.  Sadly, there will always be restaurants you can never go to on this diet.  Additionally, viewing the menu allows you to think about your options prior to getting to the restaurant.  You don’t want to be that person who takes forever to order because you don’t know what you want.  Personally, I don’t like to bring any extra attention to my unique diet, so I make sure to know what I want to eat before I get to the restaurant.

Try to become part of the decision when determining where to dine.

Hopefully, you have friends and family that care about your diet.  If you’re asked where you all should go to eat, take advantage of this opportunity and pick a vegan friendly restaurant.

You don’t have to order a main dish. 

An appetizers and side dishes can be a fulfilling meal.  I’ve order an appetizer as my main meal many times.  However, I encourage you to THINK before you order anything.  If you have the option to order a plain baked sweet potato or white mashed potatoes, choose the baked sweet potato.  If you know anything about cooking, then you know mashed potatoes are made with dairy (milk/cream/butter).  Also, if you’re thinking about getting a side order of vegetables, you’ll want to mention to cook them without butter.

To make another point, always be careful when ordering salads.  Most importantly, when ordering a salad pay more attention to the salad dressing because the ingredients of salad dressing usually aren’t transparent to customers.  If you don’t want to ask about the ingredients of a salad dressing, you can ask for lemon or lime slices.  The juice of a lemon or lime can add great flavor to a salad.  You may be able to order balsamic vinegar (not vinaigrette) and oil depending on the type of restaurant you’re visiting.

Don’t be afraid to eliminate or substitute items in a meal. 

I’ve ordered wraps many times and asked for the chicken to be removed.  I would replace the chicken with a legume like black beans or chickpeas.

Get to know which types of restaurants cater to your diet.

Once my diet changed to plant-based, I found going to Asian infused restaurants and Americanized upscale Mexican restaurants in Michigan are more flexible for my diet.  If you’re looking for a fast food option, restaurants where you’re in control of what goes into your dish, similar to Chipotle’s layout, is always a good option.

Conclusion

These five suggestions should help you become better at dining out on a plan-based diet.  If you’re ever unsure about anything, never be afraid to ask questions.  Additionally, what’s interesting about these tips is you discover which dishes are freshly prepared.

This blog post was written for plant-based eaters with no other restrictions; however, if you are gluten sensitive (not celiac disease), I believe the above tips can still be useful.  I have IBS, so I often stay away from gluten when dining out and I still follow the above suggestions.  As always, please share your questions or experiences below.

Thanks for reading!