I get asked all of the time: "What do vegans eat?" Sometimes I want to just say, "Food. Fruits, veggies, grains, they are all food - duh! What are you eating?" I think people get so used to eating meat and dairy for just about every meal, that they think they would starve without it. I don't want to claim that it is simple being vegan or even vegetarian. But if it is important enough to you, you will make it work.
I just wanted to quickly give those wondering, a few tips on how to eat out at your average restaurant, that may or may not have veg options.
A dish from a new restaurant in Provo, Utah - Center Street Bistro (295 W Center St.). This is a vegetarian dish my husband asked the chef to make. He said it was delicious! I had the vegan version of this dish but didn't snap a picture. By the way, this dish is not on the menu, we simply asked if they could create it and this is what they came up with. Very cool!
1. Pasta - Pasta can be a pretty easy meal to put together. Simply ask your waiter to ask the chef if your pasta contains eggs, usually it won't. Marinara sauce is usually the only sauce places carry that is likely vegan. Double check with the chef to make sure it doesn't have any cheese. Also make sure to clarify that you would like a plain marinara, not a meat sauce. Most restaurants have some kind of veggie mixture, so ask them to add some to your pasta for extra nutrients and flavor.
2. Mexican Food - This is usually the route I take. If a restaurant serves any kind of Mexican food, you can usually put something together like black beans, rice, guacamole, lettuce, tomatoes, onions etc. The things to watch for with Mexican food is animal fat in beans (usually refried, sometimes whole pinto), a meat broth used to cook your rice and sour cream mixed with the guacamole. You can make tacos, tostadas, burritos and more all with the same ingredients, so you have a few options to choose from. Don't forget your chips and salsa too!
3. Pizza - I am a fan of cheese-less pizza, but it took me some time to get to that point. If you ever go to a pizza place, try getting a cheese-less pizza packed full of veggies. I love green peppers, onions and pineapple or artichokes, spinach, red onions and olives. The only thing you really have to check for with pizza is eggs and sometimes milk in the dough (not likely) or cheese in the pizza sauce (also not likely).
A veggie pizza with artichokes, spinach, red onions and black olives. I ate this delicious pizza at Brick Oven in Provo, Utah. They also have an awesome marinara and vegan noodles. Try getting their 'meal for one' - it includes a small pizza and one serving of pasta from the pasta bar. There are tons of different types of noodles to choose from too. Get creative!
4. Indian Food - Indian restaurants are usually veg-friendly. A lot of the time they use coconut milk for their creaminess, and they usually have several veggie based dishes.
5. Sushi - A lot of people ask me how I eat sushi without fish. Well for those who are not familiar with sushi, sushi is the actual roll itself, sashimi is the raw fish added to the sushi roll. Sushi can be really good with just rice, and all of the veggies wrapped up in a nori sheet (tons of nutrients). If you want to get a bit more creative with your rolls, ask the waiter or chef if their tempura batter contains any animal products. Tempura is a much lighter batter than your standard batter, meaning it is not likely eggs like other batters typically do. If the tempura is animal-free, have them tempura batter and fry the veggies in your roll, or the whole roll itself. It's amazing! Sushi restaurants usually have good tofu, rice and lettuce wrap combinations too. A few tips, add ginger, wasabi, soy sauce and sriracha - it's delicious! Also although you would likely assume miso soup would be vegan or vegetarian since it contains tofu, most of the time it is made with a fish broth.
6. Veggie Sandwiches or Wraps - This is usually a pretty safe and healthy bet. Double check on the ingredients of the bread. If they contain dairy they ask if they can make your sandwich into a wrap instead. Load it with every veggie they have in the place, red peppers, tomatoes, green peppers, onions, olives, lettuce, sprouts, carrots, avocados etc. or try a grille/roasted veggie sandwich with mushrooms, eggplant, zucchini, squash, and onions. If you like sauce on your sandwich or wrap try mustard or a little oil and vinegar.
A roasted veggie sandwich from Station 22 Cafe in Provo, Utah. It has pesto (it doesn't have cheese!), carrots, spinach, roasted onions, squash, zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes and probably more all on ciabatta bread. Their fries are also vegan, and they made me a special vegan fry sauce made with Vegenaise and truffle ketchup. Delicious!
7. Salad - This is my last option when going to a restaurant. It's not that I don't like salad... but I feel like I can have a salad whenever I want. When I go out and pay for my food, I want to feel like I am getting my moneys worth. It they have a deluxe salad, then I may get it, but I'm not really into just a little lettuce in a bowl. I'm also a big ranch fan, and not a big vinegar based dressing fan, so unless I bring my own dressing (which I sometimes do!) then I pass on the salad. Things to look out for - croutons almost always contain milk and cesear dressing is made with anchovies. Try getting a dark leafy lettuce, onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, green peppers, sunflower seeds, beets, sprouts, or any other veggie they have.
8. Potatoes - Potatoes are one of my favorite foods, so whenever my family goes to a steak house or something like it for dinner, I always get a side salad and a baked potato. My secret, which doesn't really follow code is to bring in my own sauces and toppings. I bought these tiny little containers that I put in a baggie and bring in the restaurant in my purse. I usually have Vegenaise, Earth Balance Buttery Spread, Tofutti Sour Cream, my Vegan Ranch Dressing and sometimes Vegan Fry Sauce (Vegenaise and Ketchup mixed). I don't being all of these extras every time. I just plan out what I am going to eat and pack accordingly.
Anyway, I hope this helps any of you with questions about what vegans eat. If you have any more suggestions about how to eat out, please let me know! Don't stress if you make a mistake with your ingredients, just learn as you go and eventually you'll figure it all out :)
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