Finding vegan food in a big city, such as New York, Boston or San Francisco, is easy. There are more and more vegan and vegetarian restaurants popping up everywhere, and finding vegan items on the menu is common. Whether you are in the mood for eating out or eating in, your options are pretty diverse. But what if a vegan finds herself in an area where choices are few? At first it can be stressful and daunting, especially for a new vegan, to navigate the restaurant scene.
Fortunately, you can find something to eat in every restaurant, provided you are not afraid to ask questions and make special requests. Even if it’s just a salad or a bowl of pasta with plain tomato sauce, or a burger that leaves out the meat, in favor of mushrooms and veggies. (If this doesn’t sound too exciting, relax – there are other many choices that you have, just keep reading.)
Typically, the most vegan-friendly restaurants are those that feature non-American fare. That gives you plenty of options no matter what town or neighborhood you’re in.
Asian cuisine typically provides many delicious options for vegans. Chinese restaurants have many vegan dishes on their menus, and Buddhist Chinese restaurants serve vegetarian-only fare. Just be sure to tell them to leave out the eggs.
Japanese restaurants feature vegetable sushi rolls, tempura, salads made of sea vegetables or greens, edamame, vegetable dumplings, and miso soup.
Thai and Vietnamese restaurants are very vegan-friendly, with plenty of vegetable, noodle, and tofu dishes. Just ask for no fish sauce.
Indian restaurants are a great choice, with many vegetable dishes, lentil soups and other options for vegans. Make sure they leave out the ghee (clarified butter) and yogurt. South Indian restaurants tend to be vegetarian-only.
Mexican restaurants always have rice, beans, tortillas, salsa, and guacamole. Ask for no cheese. Also, make sure the rice isn’t cooked in chicken broth, and ask if refried beans are cooked in lard or vegetable oil. If they’re cooked in lard, whole beans are the way to go.
Italian restaurants are also a good choice for vegans, offering variety of pasta dishes, risottos, vegetables, salads, and starters such as bruschetta and antipasti. Just specify vegetable broth and no cheese. Also, any pizza place can make you cheese-free pizza. Simply ask for extra veggies, such as onions, mushrooms, tomatoes for added flavor.
Mediterranean and Middle Eastern restaurants offer a plenty of compassionate food choices: pita bread, baba ghanouj, hummus, olives, tapenade, falafel, tabouli, and stuffed grape leaves.
Eastern European restaurants may surprise you with delicious potato and onion pierogis.
Sub shops are now popping up on every corner. Ask them to make a you a delicious vegetable-only sandwich with oil, vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper. Specify no cheese and no mayo, just to be sure.
All-you-can-eat buffets and salad bars provide a variety of options, such as salad greens, cooked and raw veggies, beans even baked potatoes and pasta. If you are in a mood for dessert, choose fresh fruits or sorbet.
About the Author: Joanna is the founder of the GreenReset.com dedicated to green smoothies and healthy plant-based recipes. She had to learn new strategies for eating out at restaurants after she became vegan about a year ago.