Are you a plant-based eater? Does the thought of eating out in restaurants and having someone else prepare your meals scare you? Why should it? In today’s society, the depth of the menu and asking questions can get you a long way while you’re out, thereby ensuring that you enjoy a filling and satisfying plant-based meal.
The following steps can be taken the next time you decide to go out and have someone else do the cooking:
1. Try out mainstream restaurants. Although many smaller locations may offer plant-based foods, if it isn’t strictly a plant-based restaurant, you may have some difficulty due to size. The larger, more mainstream restaurants usually come with a larger menu and more options, providing the ability to accommodate for various diets and food restrictions.
2. Do your homework before going out. Go online and look up restaurants in your area, taking a look at the reviews from other people’s experiences. Ask at other restaurants about different places in the area. Read the local newspaper or health magazine, or find out about various places via festivals and fairs. Ask your friends if they have any suggestions. And, perhaps one of the most helpful avenues in this day and age, take to social media to see what is trending and why.
3. Once you have chosen a restaurant, preview the menu ahead of time. Take a look at what some of your plant-based options will be. Call ahead to clarify if you do have questions.
4. When reading the menu, take away the sections. Your meal can come from any section, not just the main course list. Modify the menu as needed. Substitute out meat or fish for extra veggies, beans, or tofu. Your best bet may come from combining multiple side dishes into one big meal. For example, you may combine veggies, soup, and a salad into one larger meal. Note: when ordering veggie burgers, always ask about its source.
5. ASK QUESTIONS! Prepare your server ahead of time and make them aware that you have dietary restrictions so they are aware. Never sacrifice your meal in order to not seem like a bother. Your servers are there to assist you in any way they can.
Not sure what questions to ask? Here are some key questions for the next time you go out:
- What is my food cooked in? (Olive oil, lemon, and garlic versus butter, milk, and cream.)
- What ingredients are used in my meal?
- How was this meal prepared and how will it be served?
Although you never want to come across as annoying, ensure that you are being assertive when it comes to questioning your meal at a restaurant. You should never be restricted because of your dietary restrictions; everyone deserves a night or two off from the kitchen every once in a while!