Restaurants are one place that we can feel a little lonely when not eating a more mainstream diet. There seems to be cheese in just about everything labelled vegetarian and meat is the mainstay of most dishes – what is a person supposed to do?
And, an understandable reason that people feel hesitant to adopt a plant-based diet, is that they don’t want to be alienated from friends and family – no small concern!
But worry no more: as a vegan, or even just a plant-food enthusiast, you don’t have to hide at home, worried there is nothing for you to eat at restaurants.
When joining other friends or family – at a restaurant that is not your choice – surprisingly, many places, especially Italian restaurants and even Steakhouses, have great salads that you only need to make a few tweaks to, in order to have an enjoyable meal. I often bring my own avocado to restaurants and just simply eat it with a big salad and simple vinaigrette. So filling and yummy and you won’t have the heartburn or heavy tummies that your friends and family might have after their meals.
If I’m really organized, I will bring a raw dressing or quick pate to place over top of it.
One thing many people don’t realize (especially with better restaurants) is that if you call ahead, you just might be pleasantly surprised at how accommodating the chef will be if you tell them you are on a special diet. Don’t feel shy!
I, too, used to feel intimidated when doing this but, after several years, decided to throw caution to the wind, with great results. Ask the chef if they will have avocados on hand, as well as be willing to make a real hearty salad with all sorts of chopped veggies, raisins, apples and more.
If you are dining out for yourself or close friends that don’t mind (or even love!) veg restaurants, I highly recommend you become familiar with the local restaurants in your area. There are an increasing number of vegetarian and even vegan restaurants in many cities (see my favourite places in Ottawa here).
You might even find you meet a few like-minded people just by frequenting these places a little more.
As well, even if the place is predominantly vegetarian (as opposed to vegan), they are usually happy to accommodate vegans or raw vegans and you can have a really fantastic dining experience.
And – most importantly – if you are at a place that has excellent vegan options, give yourself permission to have a fantastic cooked meal.
Unless I am on a strict cleanse, restaurants are one place that I give myself permission to have a yummy cooked (vegan for me) plate. I’ve had the simply sinfully delicious fried mushroom plate at the Zen Kitchen more than once (sshhh…don’t tell anyone!).
As many of you know, I like to emphasize balance becuase it is a practice that will ensure you stay on the good track for more than one or two years.
If we can welcome some flexibility in our lives, that will serve us much more over the long term than a strict raw vegan who falls off the lifestyle 2 years later.
Life is made for enjoying opportunities that come our way, so if you dear Aunt Berta is in town and you want to split the fried mushroom plate with her at the Zen Kitchen, think this over and define what raw living means to you, not to someone else.
And, if you’d rather just enjoy the raw salad – then happily do so – but make sure you’re not feeling deprived – this is the key to longevity.
What are your tips for eating out? What traditional restaurants have you been to that has accommodated your needs? I’d LOVE to hear your comments below.
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