How to Eat Vegan at Any Restaurant

How to Eat Vegan at Any Restaurant

Time to Read: 8 minutes


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Calling all vegans!

Are you a vegan finding it hard to eat at non-vegan or vegetarian restaurants? Are you tired of your friends asking you if you can eat at the restaurant or if you want to go somewhere else?

Are you finding it hard to know how to eat vegan?

As a vegan, even though you limit what you eat you shouldn’t have to feel that you’re limited for where you can eat. If you look hard enough, you could probably find some sort of vegan option any place you dine.

But sometimes, figuring out how to eat vegan at many restaurants can be quite a challenge.

That’s why we created this guide to teach people like you how to eat vegan at any restaurant out there.

Here is our top 8 list of how to eat vegan when dining out:

1. Check Ahead and Look Online

The first thing that you should know about how to eat vegan when you’re out is to find out what restaurant you’re going to and look it up online.

Do your research before you go in. Most restaurants that have a website will include their menus online.

Check the menu to see if they have a vegan option. Even if you think it is unlikely that they will serve vegan-friendly food, you should still check to make sure.

Also, you can look through the menu to find vegetarian dishes that could be easily turned into a vegan meal by removing something like cheese or chicken broth.

Don’t give up so easily before you’ve even gotten to the restaurant. You never know, the restaurant might surprise you.

Another thing you can do before getting to the restaurant is to call ahead.

Ask the server on the phone how to eat vegan at their restaurant, especially if the restaurant you’re going to doesn’t have a website.

When you call the restaurant, make sure to speak to the manager in a very friendly tone and be patient.

Even if they do not have any vegan options, you can let them know that you will still be coming into the restaurant with non-vegan friends and you want to know if they can accommodate you.

Let them know that you have specific dietary restrictions, and ask them what their policies are on substitutions.

2. Be Kind and Ask Questions

One of the most important things you should do regardless of what restaurant you end up going to is to be kind to your servers. This is key for learning how to eat vegan when you’re out.

Be nice and polite when explaining your dietary needs. People will be more willing to accommodate you if you are very kind to them.

In addition, as there aren’t too many vegans out there, you are representing all vegans when you go to any restaurant.

If you give the restaurant a hard time about their non-vegan friendly food, the restaurant will look at that as a bad experience with vegan customers, and will not want to accommodate future vegan diners.

Don’t be that person that ruins it for everyone. Be kind when you’re at a non-vegan friendly restaurant.

Moreover, you’ll want to ask the right questions when you’re ordering at a non-vegan restaurant.

If you’re interested in ordering a soup, be sure to ask whether or not the soup has some sort of chicken stock. If you’re ordering a salad, ask your server if they can take out the cheese.

Sometimes, servers and cooks will make mistakes with your order.

They may give you something with cheese on it or something that includes fish sauce, which of course, you cannot eat.

When you realize that you did not get exactly what you ordered, kindly ask for the server to take it back and to have your menu item remade.

Being nice to the servers will really pay off, especially in situations where they make mistakes.

They will surely bring your meal back quickly, in the exact way that you ordered it.

3. Be Open to Ethnic Foods

The key to learning how to eat vegan is to be open to trying new things.

Need advice for a non-vegan type restaurant to go to with friends? Try a Middle-Eastern cuisine or an Asian themed restaurant.

Even though these restaurants will not be solely vegan, or even vegetarian, they will probably still have plenty of food that you can eat.

For instance, if you decide to go to a Middle-Eastern place, you can order falafel, hummus, tabouli, and any other vegetable, vegan-friendly option they’ve got. Before ordering some delicious pita bread with your falafel, make sure that the pita was not made with egg.

Go to an Asian themed restaurant for other awesome vegan-friendly options as well.

Both Chinese and Japanese restaurants will probably have a lot of fun options for you to choose from.

You can get vegetable spring rolls, as long as they’re not made from eggs. You can also order some vegetable chow mein and rice from a Chinese eatery.

A lot of Asian restaurants are big on noodles and soups, like pho. A lot of the time, restaurants will have veggie options of your favorite noodle and soup plates.

However, you should definitely ask your waiter if any of the dishes have fish sauce, eggs, chicken stock, or broth.

Although these dishes are considered to be vegetarian, some Asian cultures do not consider fish to be an animal.

That’s a big reason why you should ask questions whenever you order while you’re dining out.

4. How to Eat Vegan? Order Lots of Sides!

Sides will become your best friend as you’re eating out at non-vegan restaurants.

Every restaurant will have different types of sides which include vegetables, fries, rice, or any of their other specialties.

Sides are always safe to order, as you know what you’re getting.

Ordering steamed vegetables can be a great option at a place where nothing else on the menu is vegan-friendly.

Get a bunch of sides in order to make your own meal. Know exactly what you’re ordering and order enough sides so that you won’t have to worry about staying hungry.

If you don’t enjoy vegetables, order some bread and jam, rice, a cup of fruit, or hummus with some chips. However, always ask whether the bread has eggs, or if the chips were made with pig fat.

  1. Get the How to Eat Vegan Apps

If you’re a vegan, it would probably be very helpful to get apps that show you where the closest vegan-friendly hot spots are.

Apps like Happy Cow, Vegman, and even Yelp will prove to be extremely useful.

Happy Cow is a popular app that helps you find vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurants all over. The app also lets its users utilize an interactive map and provides users with the restaurants’ contact information. Users can read and post their own reviews of the restaurants they go to.

Similarly to Happy Cow, Vegman is another app for vegans that lets its users see vegan-friendly dining options all over the world. If you like to travel a lot, this app will probably be most helpful for you.

A third app you can use to find vegan-friendly restaurants is Yelp. Yelp will give you a very extensive guide including contact information, menus, and reviews for any restaurant. Use the search bar to look for vegan options.

Then, before heading to a place you think you might like, check out the reviews, and find out what the best item on the menu is!

6. Vegan and Vegetarian Symbols on Menus

Many restaurants use symbols on their menus to show which dishes are vegetarian, vegan, spicy, and gluten free.

Take advantage of these symbols, and look at the dishes that have a little “v” or a leaf symbol.

This will make it a lot easier for you when you don’t know how to eat vegan when you’re exploring a new restaurant that you thought may not have many vegan-friendly options.

7. Substitutions

When you’re at a restaurant, it is perfectly okay to ask your waiter for a substitution.

For example, if you’re ordering a salad that comes with cheese, ask if you can get avocado on your salad instead.

When you’re at an Italian restaurant, ask for a marinara sauce with your pasta, or any other sauce that seems to be non-dairy and meatless.

If you’re going to a taco or burrito joint, ask for your sour cream to be replaced with guacamole.

Make sure you’re getting your meal the way you want it. Don’t be afraid to ask for substitutions. If you’re nice and friendly, most restaurants will be very willing to accommodate your needs.

8. Be Flexible

Lastly, try to be flexible.

Did your friend go to that new vegan restaurant with you last week? When your friend asks you to go to a non-vegan friendly restaurant, rather than saying no, be flexible.

Go to the restaurant and do your best to find something you’ll enjoy eating on the menu.

You don’t always have to get a salad. There will probably be other options, including sides.

However, getting a salad isn’t always the worst option. Just make sure the dressing was not made with anchovies and that your salad doesn’t come with cheese.

Just because you are vegan doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy dining out at non-vegan friendly restaurants.

Use this guide to help you pick out something vegan and delicious from any menu that comes your way. Happy eating!

About the author

Matt Beedle
Hi! I'm and I've been a vegan for 2 years. I switched to a plant based diet after getting sick with Sarcoidosis while working 16 hour days for several years building a startup. Although health was the original motivation, after learning about the terrible way the meat industry works and extreme damage it causes to the environment I've never looked back. I co-founded Vegan.io to make it as easy as possible for other people to switch to a vegan diet.

Want to try a vegan diet?

We created a meal planner app to help you! Get your fresh customized meal plan full of delicious, quick, budget friendly, healthy recipes.

GET YOUR MEAL PLAN!