Vegan options can be limited at popular restaurants. If you know what to look for, however, ordering vegan food can be fun and easy. Veganism is defined as not consuming animal products. At a restaurant, this means you do not eat meat, fish, butter, milk, eggs, cream, cheese, yogurt and sour cream, to name the most common ingredients. One easy way to order vegan is the locate the vegetarian options and request to have them made without the cheese, cream sauce or butter.
Appetizers tend to be more vegan-friendly than the entree section. This section typically includes vegan options such as fried vegetable samplers and dipping items. The fried vegetables are vegan if the breading was not made with eggs. Chips and salsa and hummus and pita are examples of vegan appetizers.
Salads are a great entree when out at a restaurant, but you might have to ask to have the cheese or meat taken off the salad. Additionally, the dressing will probably include buttermilk or mayonnaise, so you will have to request a vinaigrette or simply vinegar and oil. Add tofu, beans or nuts to ensure a balance of protein with the vegetables.
While most pastas are made with meat and cream, pastas with marinara or extra virgin olive oil and vegetables can be a tasty vegan option. Be sure to request the pasta without cheese and butter. If it is possible, add tofu or nuts to increase the grams of protein you are eating.
Burgers and Sandwiches
Many restaurants offer veggie patties and mushroom burgers in place of beef burgers. Make sure the veggie patties are vegan — not simply vegetarian — as many non-meat patties include cheese. Enjoy them with all the vegan fixings, such as guacamole, onions, lettuce, tomatoes, mushrooms, barbecue sauce and soy cheese, if available. Popular restaurants also offer vegan-friendly sandwiches, such as hummus wraps and grilled vegetable sandwiches.
It is easy to make a meal by combining a couple of vegan side dishes. Restaurants often offer steamed vegetables, a potato dish such as mashed potatoes (if made without milk and butter), side salad, rice, french fries, dinner rolls and vegetable broth-based soup. If you are unsure if a dish is made with a certain ingredient, always ask the server to check with the cooks.
Many desserts are not made vegan. Cakes, pies and ice cream all include cream, eggs, butter and milk. Sorbet is vegan as it is made with flavoring, fruit and ice shavings. Note that sherbet is different and includes a small amount of dairy. A bowl of fruit is a healthy vegan alternative to traditional dessert.
References and ResourcesMSNBC: Protein 101: How much do you need?; August 2006
ResourcesVegan Nutritionista: How to Order Vegan Foods in Restaurtants
Vegan Backpacker: How to Order Vegan Food at Any Restaurant