Dining Out "Vegan-Style"

Today I chatted with the fabulous Sharon Palmer, R.D., who is a Freelance Writer and author of The Plant-Powered Diet, named one of the best diet books for the New Year!  We talked about her tips for dining out on a plant-based diet. You may listen the the show and hear some of Sharon's "Dining Out" tips by clicking here.

Here are some of my thoughts and helpful tips for palnt-based, vegan dining out:

1) When you are dining out while traveling, vacationing, or just taking a break from cooking at home, you may think you are ordering vegetarian fare, but in many non-vegan restaurants, that may not be the fact. When looking to eat a completely vegan meal, always ask for your meal to be made without the use of any animal products. Ask your waiter to make sure that no dairy products, chicken, beef, or fish products (or broths) are being used in anything you order such as a “vegetable soup” or “pasta primavera.”

2) If there are no vegan choices listed on the menu, many eateries are now happy to accommodate, by preparing a simple vegan dish from items they stock in their kitchen. Start by asking for pasta topped with a simple primavera or marinara sauce. Or request a daily special to be made sans meat, eggs or dairy. More often than not, the chef is happy to accommodate your needs. When all else fails, I order several vegetable side dishes as my main course. Baked potatoes topped with sautéed veggies are a good choice, in a pinch.

3) In authentic Italian eateries, cooked escarole with white beans is often on the menu. Make that your main dish with a big salad and some Italian bread or eggless pasta on the side and you have a tasty meal! When dining in a Mexican restaurant, ask for a burrito made with beans, avocado or guacamole, salsa and lots of fresh lettuce. In an American-Style pub, opt for a main dish salad topped with the usual veggie fare and ask if avocado, garbanzo beans (or any available cooked beans) and/or nuts are available to be added. In a Pizza Parlor, request that your pizza be topped with a variety your favorite veggies and say: please - hold the cheese! When all else fails, in any restaurant, I ask for egg-free pasta topped with steamed broccoli, garlic and chopped tomatoes. In all cases, ask if there is a soup made without meat, eggs or dairy on the menu – these days that is often an option!

4) So, the next time you check out the menu at a restaurant and do not see anything that suits your vegan lifestyle, before heading toward the door, ask this question: “I am a vegan. May I special order a plant-based meal?” More often then not, the answer will be: “Yes, the chef will be happy to prepare something special for you today!