*Being a vegetarian, vegan or ovolactarian can be difficult not because of the food choices you make, but because of people’s misconceptions and the culture of the food service industry.
And apparently not all restaurants seem to get it: You can order a veggie sandwich from Miami Subs — as long as you order the ham and cheese with everything on it, hold the ham and cheese. Locating vegan-friendly restaurants is all about finding the right people to make you your ideal cuisine. Here are some tips to help get you started.
Seek Advice from Friends
Let’s assume your friends have a similar palette as you, but they aren’t all strict vegans. These are the type of buddies who want a bite of your food, despite realizing you won’t return the favor when they order a filet mignon. They are takers, but have good tastes. Finding a restaurant with good vegan entrees starts by finding a good restaurant. Most established fine-dining restaurants have vegetarian options, and, if they serve delicious meals comprised of red meat, odds are the vegetarian fare will be just as delicious. Of course, restaurants that cater to strictly meat eaters, like steakhouses, are exceptions to this rule.
There are certain cultural traditions that make eating vegan easy. Hindu and Buddhist traditions call for primarily vegetarian cuisine. Kosher cuisine separates meat from dairy, making it simple for ovolactarians to enjoy eating out. To locate vegetarian-friendly eateries, it might behoove you to locate nearby temples or synagogues to see what restaurants surround it. Parts of Spanish cuisine are vegetarian without it being classified as such. In fact, tapas, a Spanish favorite, have several variations of the veggie and bread theme. And, if you eat cheese, then you can surely feast the night away at a tapas bar and never get bored.
Look for Large Selections
A restaurant that only offers the choice between the eight-, 10- or 16-ounce steak won’t leave much in the way of decision and delicacy for vegans. But the larger the menu, the more selection available to you. This is simple math. If a 10-item menu has one possible vegan entree, then a 50-item menu surely will have five. A larger menu also indicates the chef has a greater ability to design different foods. As an overlay to a larger menu, find bistros catering to the health-conscious among us, since the vegetarian lifestyle tends to fit into that category. Grellin.org can help you find these establishments, as the website lists some of the more healthy options in which to choose from major U.S. chain eateries and restaurants.
One of the benefits of enjoying gourmet food is that chefs appreciate creating fare for those with sophisticated palates. In other words, they have your back. Likewise, finding a gourmet restaurant is relatively easy using Michelin’s starred restaurant guide. Once you find some intriguing options, simply call and ask the chef to prepare a vegan meal for you. Pardon the pun, but creating specialty foods is a gourmet chef’s bread and butter.
Vegetarian Fast Food
Downshifting from gourmet foods for a second, even most fast-food chains and family-friendly restaurants have one or more vegan entrees on their menus. Burger King’s veggie patty is vegan, as long as you don’t add mayonnaise or cheese. Cicis offers both a salad bar and vegan pizzas. Their dough and sauces contain no animal products and, even if the pizza type is not on the buffet line, you can always order it at no extra cost. You may need to educate the cook a bit on vegetarian fare, so an extra helping of smiles will go a long way.