Don’t Be Afraid of Eating Out Because You are a Vegan

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate – our deepest fear is that we’re powerful beyond measure. – Marianne Williamson

Are you having a hard time sticking with eating a vegan diet?  You are not alone.  Let me tell you what happened to me.

My family and I went to a restaurant this past weekend that has a good selection of vegetables.  These vegetables are not prepared with any animal product.  How do I know?  Because I have asked them.

My husband is not a veggie person and we must always choose a restaurant that will accommodate us both.  Because I am a vegan it is hard to eat out anywhere, that doesn’t have vegetables slathered in butter and pork or whatever else restaurants use to flavor vegetables.

As I went through the line, I also noticed they had potato salad, one of my favorites, but I knew there were eggs and other things in the potato salad that I do not want to consume.  As hard as it was, I passed the potato salad by and was happy with my vegetable plate.

I proceeded through the line and I chose three vegetables along with a salad.  When I got to the end of the line, the cashier asked me if I wanted a roll or cornbread.  I’d rather not have either, but I told her that I would have cornbread.  I was also thinking in the back of my mind, the cornbread would go well with my veggies. *weak moment*

I did not eat the cornbread, I took it because the cashier asked me what type of bread I wanted.  I thought about the milk, eggs and other ingredients that were probably in the cornbread and I left it alone.

Today, I will tell you how you can stay vegan while eating out.  It is not easy, but it can be done.  You will be amazed how powerful you are when you have your mind focused on the direction you are traveling.

5 ways you can remain a vegan while eating out

  • Select a vegan/veggie friendly restaurant. Don’t go to a steakhouse when you know that all they serve is steak and very little vegetables.  You will be very disappointed.  Select a restaurant that has a wide selection of vegetables and fresh salads.
  • Think about your health before you eat. I almost ate the cornbread that I was given and the potato salad looked good, but I passed them both by.  One part of me wanted to eat the cornbread, but another part of me was thinking about what was in the cornbread.  I knew the ingredients were not what I wanted in my body.  Take a little time to stop and think about what makes up a certain food, then you will almost always do the right thing based your chosen diet.
  • Share your meals with those who respect your eating choices.  You never want to eat out with family or friends who don’t understand why you eat the way you do.  They could make statements like “you don’t know what you’re missing” or “I cannot believe you don’t eat meat.”  Some people tend to go on and on.  These people, though they mean well, can cause you to stumble.  You will find yourself giving in because you don’t want to be considered a weirdo. Do yourself a favor and avoid this situation at all cost.
  • Don’t eat out until you know that you are strong enough to do so. If you know that you are easily persuaded by what others are eating, then you are probably not ready to eat out.  I use to be easily persuaded by what others were eating and also by the remarks that people made, but now I have strong will power.  It took some time for me to develop this strong will power, but I never gave up.  Remember, it takes time and you will stumble a time or two, probably more than that, but don’t ever give up.
  • Plan for success and you will succeed. Always have a plan for eating well whenever you eat out.  Know what types of foods you will eat and those you will not eat even before you arrive at the restaurant.  Decide how you will respond to others who question you.  If you find yourself in a situation where people are constantly questioning you, then this is the time when your plan will really come in handy.  If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.  Be prepared at all times and you should do fine.

You don’t have to give up eating out because you are a vegan.  You can still eat a vegan diet when you eat out while enjoying your family and friends.  There is no need to ever dread eating out anymore, because you are armed with your plan and there is nothing that can sway you.

Give some thought to the food you consume.  Ask yourself if a certain food is good or bad for your body, before you ever put into your mouth.  This will help you even more to stick with your chosen diet.

How do you handle eating out, especially since you’ve changed to a plant-based diet?

Your health is your wealth!


Image: Andy Newson

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About the Author

Evelyn Parham started this site in 2010. She enjoys writing, reading, and dabbling in photography and video editing. Learn more about her here.

24 Enlightened Replies

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  1. Monique Koch says:

    When I first became a vegan, I didn’t enjoy restaurants very much because I was so concerned about what I couldn’t eat. Now I check menus online and if all else fails eat a little at home before leaving.

  2. Evelyn, eating out in Europe for a vegan diet is dreadfully difficult and you may end up with some bread and lettuce on the side. Vegetarian options – since there are few and far in between “vegan” options – all have eggs, diary and other non-vegan products. I found it nearly impossible to stick to my diet in Switzerland; Canada was better especially since I love Indian food and avoided the creamy stuff where I could – but then a hard time again in Asia….so if you have tips on how to stay vegan while traveling the world, I’d love you for writing the tips!! THANK YOU!

    • Hi Farnoosh,
      Thanks for stopping by!
      I can imagine how hard it is to stick with your diet while traveling.

      Thanks for your post suggestion! 😉

      I don’t have any experience traveling abroad and staying vegan, but I do know of a raw vegan who is traveling and has documented it on youtube. – Frederic Patenaude Here is a video I think you will find helpful. Being Vegetarian, Vegan or Raw Vegan in Eurpoe

      Take care,
      Evelyn

      • Farnoosh says:

        THANK YOU for that referral. Watching his videos now….
        It is much much harder to stick to a vegan diet in Europe – Asia offers better choices but it’s harder to know ALL the ingredients in Asia if you don’t speak the local language and you are out and about…..but no matter, traveling is still worth it with all the trouble and I will aim to do better each time away from home :)!

      • Hi Farnoosh,
        You’re quite welcome! 😉

        I hope you find the video helpful. Frederic also has more videos on this topic of where he travels.

        Yeah, I can understand that. RE. Asia.

        Keep enjoying your travels and striving to do better.

        Take care,

        Evelyn

  3. Kissie says:

    Well, this is the one thing I have mastered … it also helps that I don’t go out a lot.

    The Happy Cow website s a wonderful resource too!

  4. Christianna Pierce says:

    These are great suggestions, Evelyn. A resource I have found particularly helpful for choosing a veg-friendly restaurant (both in my home town and while traveling) is http://www.happycow.net/.

  5. bitt says:

    I think it would be a lot easier for an omnivore and vegan to eat together at an ethnic restaurant like indian, thai, chinese, etc. they have more vegan options.

  6. Preeti says:

    Evelyn,

    As a life long vegetarian, I have learned to ask what in it and choose sensibly when eating out or at social gathering. It may be tough in beginning but as times goes by, I know all usual things I can and can not eat. We do not eat eggs, milk, honey and gelatin either!

    Toughest places to eat for me Japanese restaurants, except veggie tempura, veggie sushi and boiled soybeans I usually can not eat much and tempura is not healthiest choice!

    • Hey Preeti,
      That’s a great way to be. The only way we will know what’s in the food is to ask.

      I didn’t know that you didn’t eat eggs, milk, honey or gelatin, because some people who say they are vegetarians still eat those foods. Thanks for sharing that, I’m learning more and more about Zen-girl! 😉

      I’ve never had tempura, veggie sushi or boiled soy beans. Whenever I eat at an Asian restaurant, I will always get the steamed veggies. I’ll have to give those a try whenever I’m at an Asian restaurant. I don’t know about the tempura, though. 🙂

      Thanks for sharing and take care,

      Evelyn

  7. Dandy R. Reiner says:

    Thanks for the tips Evelyn. I’m not a vegan, but I’m extremely health concious & it is hard to eat out. You’re right about the willpower. Sometimes I want to go all out & indulge. But when I stick to my guns I feel so much better about myself & the lifestyle I’ve choosen. I give myself a treat when I do well when it comes to eating out…..I go home & eat some organic soy coconut bars….yumm!!

    • Hi Dandy,
      I think you are doing very well. It is always good to be health conscious.
      And there’s nothing wrong with rewarding yourself for a job well done. 😉

      Thanks for sharing and take care,

      Evelyn

  8. Ileane says:

    Hi Evelyn, I know you are right. I should think about what’s going into my body. Most of the time I don’t. I just picture the food going from my mouth straight to my appetite. Thanks for that tip.

  9. Jean Sarauer says:

    Eating out has been my only real challenge to a vegan lifestyle. I live in a small town and it was difficult to find menu options as a vegetarian. As a vegan, my options are lettuce (iceberg only!) and taking my chances that the kitchen will leave butter off a potato if I ask nicely. Baked potato’s with salsa are my most common selection these days.

  10. Michelle says:

    I find it pretty tough eating out. You order your food a certain way, so that you know it’s vegan, but it seems to always get messed up. I hate complaining about my food being wrong, but like you, I don’t want to give in. My husband isn’t a veggie person either, so we also try to find places that accommodate both. I think Jackson, TN has to be the hardest place for a vegan to live. :o) I am finding a few places that easily accommodate me though. Great tips!

    • Hi Michelle,

      I’m with you about Jackson, TN. Whenever we travel to Bolivar, we sometimes stay in Jackson and I know what you mean about that. Very hard! Please let me know those places, so when we visit Bolivar I will have a few places I know are vegan friendly.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Evelyn

  11. Sudeep says:

    Hey,
    Although not a vegan I do enjoy reading this post, because whenever I think of Vegan I think back of my head how hard is for them to eat out.
    The part which I like in this post is about sharing the meal ideas with your friends who are vegan ..
    It would be nice in some later post you might right more of vegan fast food and other meal ideas in restaurant.
    Sudeep

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