Monday, September 16, 2013

Tips for Vegetarians at Restaurants

I've been a vegetarian for over two and a half years and I know how difficult it can be to start going without meat. It's a commitment, but one that I believe pays off pretty well.

One of the most difficult things about eating meat-free is eating out. Similar to dieting, eating out with people who aren't vegetarians can be a little bit stressful and nerve wrecking. I've had plenty of experiences of eating with people who didn't necessarily appreciate my eating decision and would either give me crap for it or try to convince me otherwise (can't a girl just eat in peace?!). Usually, these things were brought upon by making a big deal out of being a vegetarian. It's a social thing, but totally avoidable. Now, I'm not saying that you shouldn't let people know of your choices (obviously I'm sharing my choices with the whole world), but if you're ever wary of it, I've written out some of my tips for eating vegetarian at restaurants! ...watch for a post about the best vegetarian things to order at specific restaurants!


1. Always keep a protein bar, granola bar, or snack in your bag. Sometimes you'll end up getting just a salad and without meat on it, you may get a little hungry afterwards. I can't tell you how many times I've cleaned out a purse and found about three Luna bars in it. (Plus, this is much cheaper!)

2. Look at the sides. I tend to order salads a lot, but I also order sides. Salads are cheaper and if you're looking for a little bit something extra, look for sides that'll fill you up. Sometimes these are macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, soups, pasta salad, vegetable plates, french fries/onion rings, etc. See if they'll let you order two sides instead of an entree!

3. The same thing goes for appetizers: who says they can't be your main meal? My favorites are quesadillas, but it varies from restaurant to restaurant. Just don't forget about the appetizers, even if it's an unconventional entree!

4. Look for good pasta dishes. Pasta is my favorite (no matter what kind of restaurant) and comes with good filling-up calories. A lot of the times they come with meat, but if you politely ask, they'll be happy to take it off for you, and they'll occasionally take down the price a dollar or two. One time they even added more bell peppers onto my pasta because I wasn't ordering it with chicken. The same thing goes for salads.

5. If you're ordering something special, just ask for 'no meat'. Sometimes, menu items have more than one type of meat (bacon is often hidden in things) or are made with meat-derived products. So if you ask for something without meat, they'll understand what you mean and if the meat can't be taken out, they'll most likely let you know. You can read the menu in detail, but unless you ask, you won't know. 

6. This is a shot in the dark sometimes, but ask about veggie patties to substitute on burgers. Some restaurants have them, but they're not on their menu. Also, if a restaurant advertises a 'veggie burger' but you want it in the style of a special burger specific to their menu (ie, a Mexican burger), they'll usually be more than happy to dress your veggie one with whatever you'd like.

7. Pizza and flatbread sandwiches are the best. The very best, I may add. Simply order these without meat, but still get the cheese, veggies, and bread.

8. Look at the menu before you go. I can't stress this enough. No one wants to get into a situation where they're spending time at the restaurant freaking out over the menu, not knowing what to get because they're a vegetarian. Plus, if you know what you want when you get there, there's not going to be any concerns from who you're eating with. (Note: Not that you're trying to hide it, of course, there's just no need to make a big deal out of it if you don't want to).

This should be a given no matter who you are or what you order, but be courteous to the people serving you. They have lots of customers and people to serve, so if your meal comes and it has chicken on top of the salad, don't chew out your waiter or waitress. It's not necessarily their fault and they're trying to do the best they can. Just pick it off and try not to make a big deal out of it. 

I hope this helps when you're going to restaurants, whether it be fast-food or sit-down, because even though it may seem overwhelming to go meat-free in public, I promise it isn't!

Have any questions, suggestions, or concerns? Let me know!

xoxo,
Meredith

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