There are so many common reactions when people hear that you lead a plant-based lifestyle:
"That must be so hard!" "Where do you get your protein?" "What do you even eat?" "So do you just never go out for dinner?" "So you only eat salads?" "What about chicken? Or fish?" "But you must eat cheese, everyone loves cheese."
The biggest concern comes into play while planning a dinner with friends, they are always so concerned (like the adorably sweet people they are) about where you are able to eat. In my experience, anywhere you go will generally have a great vegan off-menu option for you!
Here are some tips to ensure you can eat-out anywhere:
1 Be Understanding & Kind: My experience in the food-industry has taught me many valuable lessons, the most important of which to be nice. No server is excited to deal with an incredibly picky-person at their table and for the most part many people don't fully understand the limitations of a plant-based lifestyle. The best way to get what you want while out to eat (or just in general) is having a understanding, genuine attitude. Yes. Be understanding of your server, don't just expect they will be understanding of you.
2 Speak Up: Don't be afraid to talk to your server and ask them if off-menu items/modifications are possible.
3 Be creative: One of my favourite parts about being plant-based and eating out is that I get to explore my creative side. It basically works like this:
◦ Breakfast: Scan the menu. What do they have to offer? Instead of looking at each item, look at their individual ingredients. Most breakfast serving restaurants have eggs florentine which is composed of a poached eggs, other things we aren't interested in & asparagus! Asparagus. Perfect. Moving on. Another key place to look is the side dishes. There is most likely a hash brown situation going on there (hopefully you're at a restaurant that serves onions in their hash browns). Ask your server if they have red peppers, or any other veg you are interested in & order them all together to make your own veggie-hash. Delicious!
◦ Lunch/Dinner: Same situation - menu scan. Find a base in an entry that interests you: rice, quinoa, pasta, potatoes, whatever you're into. Look for some yummy veg. Is there a plant-based protein to complete your meal? Order them all as sides, or ask your waitress to tell the chef to surprise you with these ingredients. Chef's often love to get creative and I have had some delicious off-menu meals based on these concepts.
4 Avoid soups: one very iffy item on every menu is a soup. Most places out-source their soups or soup bases and don't always know the ingredients. I have run into a few situations where I have asked the server and you can tell they are guessing. I don't like to take the chance. Unless it is a home-made soup that the restaurant can guarantee, most likely it is made with some form of animal by-product or meat-based broth.
5 Try ethnic: Western based restaurants are normally the most limiting.