I’ve learned quite a few things about eating out as a vegan over the past few years, so hopefully this can help you out. I don’t know about you but I feel queasy when I find out there was a miscommunication or misunderstanding and I was given food with animal products in it. Luckily I’ve never had meat show up in my food, but occasionally other things have. Not all servers or restaurants understand what vegan means so sometimes it’s necessary to ask specific questions. Wait staff can also be busy and it may slip their mind. And sometimes foods that are normally vegan contain animal ingredients depending on the food place.
– Rice: sometimes cooked in chicken broth, make sure to ask
– Beans: especially refried as those can contain lard or can be cooked with meat, also often topped with cheese so make sure to request no cheese
– Tortillas: some are made with lard
– Veggies: should be vegan right? Well some are cooked on the same grill as meat and that may not bother everyone but I don’t like any possible meat traces in my food (this can be at any type of restaurant)
– Guacamole: sometimes made with sour cream (Gasp! Not the Guac)
- obvious things to watch out for: dairy sour cream, cheese
– Tomato Sauces: some places use butter or milk in their tomato sauces
– Pasta: some types of pasta can be made with eggs, especially fresh pastas, spaghetti is usually pretty safe, but it’s always good to ask
– Bread: sometimes comes buttered, so its best to specify before
– Cheese is often sprinkled over dishes so make sure to specify no cheese
- obvious things to watch out for: any creamy sauces, cheese, butter
– Curries: some are dairy based though more commonly they use coconut milk. I usually ask to be sure
– Fish sauces are used often in noodle dishes, sautés, and Pad Thai
– Shellfish and dried shrimp often used in Pad Thai, salads, soups, and sauces
- the great thing about Thai food is that they will always have a vegan option and usually have several options.
– Babaganouj: sometimes contains dairy/yogurt
– Hummus: though almost always vegan it sometimes contains yogurt/dairy
– Rice: can be cooked in chicken broth
– Stuffed Grape Leaves: often vegan, but sometimes contain meat
– Feta is sprinkled over many things so make sure to specify no cheese
- there are always vegan options like tabboleuh or falafel
– Naan Bread: sometimes contain/brushed with ghee (clarified butter)
– Curries: sometimes made with dairy or ghee
– Mango Lassi: made with yogurt
– It’s always good to ask whether a dish contains ghee just to be sure
- Indian restaurants are usually very easy to get a vegan dish at just watch out for ghee and dairy
Japanese/ Sushi Restaurants
– Fish sauces can be used in many dips/ sauces
– Some sushi rolls contain mayo, it will usually say on the menu when they do, but sometimes it’s drizzled over so you may want to ask
– Fried Rice: sometimes made with butter
– Teriyaki Sauce: often contains honey
- again easy to get a vegan option, but depending on the place the choices are often limited
That covers many of the places I eat out at. This post isn’t to say that it’s a struggle all the time or that being vegan is difficult! Some restaurants are tougher than others but that says nothing about veganism. When I first went vegan, I was cautious and afraid to ask questions because I didn’t want to be difficult but I’ve learned its always better to ask! Some restaurants will even go out of the way to make you an off the menu vegan option. This list is just helpful for me to remember what to ask at different types of restaurants. It’s helpful when a menu specifies what is vegan and I definitely prefer to eat at vegan places, but that’s not always an option. Do you know of anything I’ve missed? I’d love to know about it!
P.S. Whenever we mention veganism or ask for a vegan option at a restaurant we are creating a demand for it. Letting restaurants know there’s a market out there for it. And if you ever slip-up it’s okay! I’ve been there. It doesn’t make you less of a vegan. You’ll just know to look out for it next time.
Hi! My name is Sarah McLaughlin. I’m a sophomore at the University of California Santa Cruz working towards a Literature major. I’m an enthusiastic plant based foodie with a passion for organic, local, and hand crafted foods. I love living in the redwoods, smelling the moist forest ground, and being surrounded with giant ancient trees that have seen more time in this world than any of us ever will.
A few years ago I discovered the world of online food and health blogs. I discovered a love for cooking and experimenting with new, healthier, plant-based recipes and most of all learned how to intertwine my love for animal and human rights with my diet and lifestyle.
However the onslaught of information from the online community can be overwhelming especially for a young adult like myself. I took every health tip and recommendation to heart, which was a lot of information constantly weighing on my mind. This combined with a desire to be the healthiest person I could be led to an unhealthy relationship with food and exercise. I struggled with this obsession and sometimes still do, but this is why I’m committed to making a blog that celebrates food, health, and all of the amazing things our bodies do for us.
Sometimes we have to struggle to discover the beauty that was always all around us. Whether that may be in a deliciously rich square of raw chocolate, or the feeling of our heart pumping in our chest on a hike through the redwoods, or even in the moment of a shared laugh with a friend; it’s important to recognize these little moments and celebrate them.
I hope this blog can become a space to share my favorite recipes, small businesses that I love and support, and most importantly a space to share feelings and thoughts about the world we live in.