25 Nov 2015
Food and socializing go hand and hand, and being vegan doesn’t mean you have to miss out on social occasions. Although eating at certain places can be challenging, eating out as a vegan can be managed easily with a little bit of planning. Below are five ways to make dining out easy:
Many cultures primarily eat vegetarian food, or at least offer standard vegetarian/vegan options. Living in New Zealand, we are lucky to have a variety of food options from different cultures and countries available. Japanese, Thai, and Indian places will usually have several vegan-friendly options, so if in doubt while out with friends, opt for an Asian/Indian eatery. You should also become familiar with bakeries and cafes that offer vegan options as part of their menu.
For help finding vegan restaurants near you: - Ask on online forums/Facebook groups for recommendations - Visit www.happycow.net - Check out the Vegan Society eating out page - Try out popular vegetarian/vegan cafes, and find one that you love (in Auckland - Tart, The Little Bird Unbakery, The Blue Bird Vegetarian Café)
Figure out which menu items are vegan/could easily be made vegan, this will make the ordering experience much easier for you and the staff.
Café’s are often willing to make a big vegan breakfast on request, which might include potatoes/hash browns, spinach, tomatoes, toast, avocado and mushrooms. Most conventional cafes will not serve vegan breakfast food on their menu but are happy to make a special meal for you – it helps if they know in advance.
Kitchen staff are often happy to veganize dishes. Don’t be afraid to be the annoying customer – you are just adding a bit of variety to the chef’s day. If something on the menu looks good to you but isn’t quite vegan, ask if the chef can make adjustments to meet your needs. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.
If you are travelling to a new city or going on holiday, research the cafes and eateries near your accommodation. Figure out which places have vegan options (the foreign food is a good starting point), and where to avoid. You can also explore by foot, reading the menu at each place you pass. Remember that you don’t have any obligation to eat somewhere, just because you walk in/view the menu. If a restaurant does not provide vegan food, don’t be afraid to walk out and find someone better suited to your needs.
The best way to have a successful eating experience is to prepare, plan where you go, and ideally eat at a vegan restaurant. With a little bit of planning, and talking to kitchen staff, eating out nearly anywhere can be a delicious plant-based experience. Regan the Vegan