When you are a vegan or following a plant-based diet, one of the most challenging aspects may not be cooking for yourself, but when you eat out with friends, family or work.
Some situations are more technical and require you to do some research and planning. Other situations ask of you to be patient and flexible – a happy vegan advocate.
Research the restaurant
Before heading out for dinner with friends, do a quick google or check Happy Cow into the place you will be going to.
Happy Cow is a great website and app that aims to help find a vegan meal near you. It has a big database covering most major cities. Their primary function is to help you find a restaurant but is also quite an excellent overall resource for vegans.
A quick google search can bring up most restaurants menus and reviews. We have been so surprised. We have travelled to remote towns and found cafes that offer vegan meals but on the flip side been in the city with no place to eat.
If you are lucky, you may find a vegan option or two. If not, look for vegetarian and see how you can modify your order. Worst case you make your own meal from whatever sides they have available. It’s not about the food, it’s about enjoying the company of friends and family.
Call the restaurant beforehand.
If you are going out with a big group of people, the best option is to call the place beforehand. To avoid confusion of what the term vegan means, explain that you choose not to eat dairy, eggs, cheese, milk, butter, meat or honey. Have a look at the menu before calling them so that if they feel stumped, you could make some suggestions.
Tell them when you will be arriving and voila, when you arrive, go over to the manager and mention who you are and ask them to add it to the order from your table.
Take your waiter aside.
Sometimes it is just better to go over to the waiter and get your meal sorted out. Going out with my extended family or a big group of friends, it’s easier to quickly place my order than it becoming a big fuss in front of everyone.
Speaking to the waiter alone also helps them feel more relaxed. Have a calm conversation about options or adjustments without the intimidation of the whole table watching.
Eat beforehand or bring your own
If the restaurant situation is not ideal and it’s not possible to change the restaurant, eat at home. You can enjoy a simple salad or side without feeling deprived of a whole meal. The first few times you do this, it may seem a bit awkward, but over time will be no big deal. I make it as if it’s a regular thing, and eventually, people relax too.
When you do days out, and you are not sure about where or when you will eat, take your own snacks. Keep a jar of nuts handy or grab some fruit to snack on. Being in a situation where you cant eat is not fun. Taking your own snacks with is a great preventative measure.
While the majority of plant-based eaters and vegans are normal people, there are a few who are rude and not very nice. This gives everyone else a bad name and reduces the impact of animal rights progression.
Make the most out of the dining experience and leave a review on the restaurant afterwards. Reviews are a great way to let other vegans know they have options or warn them it is not vegan-friendly. It’s also a chance to offer an idea for the restaurant owner to consider adding options.
Spreading Veganism through Joy — There seems to be a lot of focus on food as the central idea to veganism. While it is a critical point, it is not the main idea. The main idea behind veganism is taking a stand against animal cruelty. We choose to boycott all animal-based industries to reduce the suffering of animals, people involved in the processes and damage to the environment. When we aim to educate people through compassion, we will encourage people to look into the cause. Arguing over food is not helpful for relationships or the cause.
Practice flexibility and patience.
The fact is, choosing a vegan diet can be limited at times – mostly in restaurants. Getting upset about it is useless and a waste of your time and energy.
So what do you do if you can’t plan for where you will be eating? Be flexible. Look at all the veggie items listed on a menu, pick your favourite and make a plate.
It’s not to say vegans love eating a plate constructed of sides but at the end of the day, its veggies and its only one meal. Breakfasts meals, for example, can as simple adding all the veg available on the breakfast menu along with some toast. Flexibility and optimism when eating out mean meals will be as enjoyable as any other.
Being flexible also means compromising with others when eating out. Research places that offer meals for you and other preferences. Some vegans will never eat at places that serve meat, but that’s a personal choice. Some choose to enjoy meals with meat-eaters because enjoying plant-based meals with friends and family shows them that it’s not as bland and boring as they may think.
When people want to talk about veganism at the table
At this time, veganism is a hot topic. Although most people are pretty cool with it, others may want to provoke a debate. While some may purely be interested others may wish to argue.
Talking about the details of animal factory farming and the reality of the dairy industry is not the best idea when someone is about to tuck into their meat-based meal. Keep the conversation light-hearted. Making people guilty does not open them up to the concept of change, even if its something simple as meatless Mondays.
If they are on the anti-vegan train, approach them calmly and aim to help them understand rather than convince. Let any negative comments roll off your back and laugh it off. Being happy and open about your stance is the best way to convince people of what you are doing.
Eating out as a vegan can be tricky at times, but with the right preparation and mind frame, you can navigate it like a boss. Don’t feel embarrassed or guilty for changing foods around. Remember, it’s about animal equality. We choose not to eat certain foods as a stand against inhumane practices.
The point of dining out is primarily for sociability. Friends and family. Enjoying their company is more important than an argument, fuss or negative remarks. Enjoy your meal, whatever it may be with a smile on your face an dlove in your heart spreading the message of compassion and kindness for all.
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