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How To Eat as a Vegan at Non-Vegan Restaurants

Updated: Aug 15, 2022

Whether you’re on vacation and stuck in an area with little to no vegan food options or you’re going out to dinner with a group of non-vegan individuals, almost every vegan gets stuck at a non-vegan restaurant from time to time. It can be nerve-wracking, especially if you’re newly on your vegan journey, however, there’s no need to panic! Stay calm, and check out these tips!

1. Check the restaurant’s website. Before going out to eat, look at the menu beforehand to see if the vegan options are listed! This is common, especially in bigger cities!

2. Call ahead. Explain that you’re vegan and see if they can speak with the chef regarding ingredients on the menu.

3. Ask the waiter. If you weren’t able to get answers on the phone, talk to your waiter when you sit down. They may be able to talk to the chef to see if they can prepare something for you.

4. Understand that you may not eat the best meal of your life. Going out to eat is about the company you’re with, and socializing at a non-vegan place might result in you not eating that much. Try to focus on having a good time with the individuals around you.

5. Be prepared. It’s smart to bring back up snacks, or even pack food for yourself and keep it in the car just in case worse comes to worst. This way, you can eat afterward or run to the car and bring your meal inside with you.

A guide for eating at specific types of restaurants:

Thai restaurants: Ask them to omit fish sauce, oyster sauce, and egg from any dishes that look like they could be made vegan. If you’re ordering a noodle dish, make sure it’s made with rice noodles instead of egg noodles.

Chinese restaurants- most Chinese restaurants will have a section on the menu labeled

“bean curd/ vegetarian dishes”. Most of these dishes are usually already vegan, but be sure to double-check!

Japanese restaurants- vegetable sushi and edamame are almost always vegan. Some tofu dishes may be vegan as well, but watch out for fish sauce.

Ethiopian restaurants: Look at the vegetable, lentil, and bean-based wots (stews). The vegetarian dishes (as well as injera!) are usually vegan, but always ask if they use butter.

Mexican restaurants: Ask about lard in the beans, and chicken broth in the rice. Ask them to omit any dairy from dishes like guacamole, fajitas, bean burritos, or tacos.

Mediterranean or Middle Eastern restaurants: THIS IS A GREAT BET! Hummus, baba ghanoush, falafel, tabouli, vegetable kebabs, mujadara, and chickpea salads are almost always vegan. Still, Ask if there is any dairy in the dishes and ask them to omit that. (Occasionally, dairy will slip into dishes where you wouldn’t expect them.)

Pizza places: Ask if the crust & sauces are vegan! Then add as many vegetables as you like. Cheese-less pizzas can be very delicious!


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