Wednesday, December 14, 2016

5 Tips for Finding Vegan Options at Restaurants

'Tis the season, and you know what that means...

It's time for celebration and gatherings of all sorts, which should be loads of fun, right? Except there's always that group that isn't quite in tune with our dietary needs, and they've opted to meet at a nice restaurant this year… perhaps even one with the words “Steak House” in the name (the horror!). 

Or, you're traveling to be with family and while en route find yourself ravenous in some unfamiliar place, only to find that the usual search on HappyCow returns zero promising results. 

So what's a vegan who desires more than a dry baked potato or crappy house salad with oil and vinegar to do? Here are some tips: 

1.   Make a call: Phone ahead and find out what your options at the restaurant may be. Speak to a manager when possible, as a manager is usually very knowledgeable about what goes into every dish (your server might not be).

Bonus tip: Try not to call during popular meal time hours when management and staff have their hands full. In general, they’ll be much more helpful when they’re not stressed for time.

2.   See if there’s a secret menu: Ask whether the restaurant has a special menu for vegan diets. More and more restaurants are starting to do this! And even if they don’t have one yet, they might in the future if enough people ask.

3.   Ask about substitutions: Ask if vegan substitutions for non-veg ingredients in menu items can be made – like a little avocado in place of the cheese. Some restaurants even keep things like tofu, Veganaise and Daiya on hand just for customers like you and me! Do note, however, that you may be charged extra for this, but it’s a small price to pay for more substance than bread rolls.

4.   Go ethnic: Look for Asian- or African- inspired options that include plenty of veggies. These types of dishes can often be easily vegan-ized without greatly altering the taste when they’re made to order without animal protein or other animal products. 

5.   Get confirmation: Verify that menu items that appear to be plant-based are indeed vegan. Hidden ingredients such as butter, milk, cream, eggs or honey may not be listed on the menu, especially for items that include bread, pasta or salad dressing, etc.

Last but not least, be polite and graciously thank your server for working with you to find plant-based options. Someone who feels appreciated is generally more willing to assist and will be more inspired to find solutions to your needs. Plus, a little kindness goes a long way for all of us, and our cause.

Got any other tips for finding vegan options at restaurants? Share them below.


  1. Well, the best way to do that is Google it. That's what i would do and always do in fact. But i like the effort you have put in writing this informative post! (y)

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