3 Tips for Dining Out at Regular Restaurants w/ Your Non-Vegan Friends & Family and STILL Eat Vegan

dinging out vegan

I know, I know… that title is a mouthful.

But it’s totally in line with what we face as vegans on a regular basis.

Dining out as a vegan is hard work…

When you’re a vegan in a world full of omnivores, dining out can really suck.
Especially if the rest of your family isn’t vegan and they all want to dine at a restaurant you USED to frequent…
(I’m looking at YOU, Bonfire).
But don’t worry. It doesn’t have to be as hard as it seems.
Sometimes, we’ve never considered what we would eat at these restaurants now.
We’re so concerned with kale and smoothies and juicing, we don’t actually plan how we’re gonna have fun.
After all, it’s STILL important to have fun…I don’t care how plant-based you are.
If you don’t enjoy your lifestyle, you ain’t gonna stick to it.
So it’s time to start planning ahead.
dingin out vegan

Also, check out my post about My First Thanksgiving as a Vegan and Sunday Dinner with My Non-Vegan Fam.

If I can do it, YOU CAN, TOO!

*PLEASE NOTE: This post and other posts on my site may contain affiliate links. All this means is that I get a small compensation if you purchase from one of the links in my post… at NO extra cost to you! For details, please view my privacy & disclosure policies.

I. Do Your Research

dining out vegan research
Check the menu beforehand. 
You used to know this menu all too well.
You’d order the same thing every time, down to the drink and the appetizer.
But the rules of the game have changed and you can’t eat the same thing you used to eat. Or you need to tweak it a little bit.
So check out the menu online, if available, and see if the items have the ingredients listed. There might be a way to “veganize” something you already like.
Check for new items, too. Look to see if there’s anything that’s already vegetarian (no meat) and sub out any dairy products.
If you’re like me and you hate to be “that vegan”, it makes it easier to take out as much fuss as possible.
It’s your bit of effort for the trouble. Like saying, “I’ve already gone through and figured out what I can’t eat, so here it is. Can you make it happen? Yes? Thank you so much”.
But let’s say the restaurant you’re going to doesn’t have the ingredients listed. What then?

II. Ask PLENTY of questions

dining out vegan questions
 Ask, straight up, if they have vegan options.
One of the things I’ve found is that if you’re honest, most establishments are very accommodating.
In fact, I have yet to come across anyone who has treated me less than great when I said I was vegan.
I’ve gotten some confused stares, but no one is impatient or mean.
Which is what we’re most scared of, right? That they’ll react to us like our friends and family did:
  • Why can’t you eat cheese sometimes?
  • You’re being difficult.
  • Oh, that’s right…you’re picky now.
Not what they said verbatim, but I’ve heard any one of those variations at some point.
But no. A restaurant or establishment is not going to do that to you.
For one thing, you’re paying them for a service. They’re getting something out of making sure that you’re satisfied.
You’ll make up for any trouble you might cause with cash or card…
Unless you plan on stiffing them.
In which case, that’s a douchey move. Always pay for your meal and always- ALWAYS- tip your server.
Second, no one is actually that mean. I mean, some people are, but that’s not your problem and your life’ll be a shit ton better if you remember that.
If you’re upfront, honest, and polite about it, they most likely won’t take offense.
After all, LOTS of people have dietary requirements nowadays.
Whether due to allergies, health, or personal reasons, it’s kind of the way of the world now.
Servers and food workers make adjustments all the time. All YOU have to do is be nice about it.


dining out vegan


Again, be STRAIGHT UP.
Let me give you an example:
Labor Day weekend 2017, my parents and I went on a trip to Ocean City. It’s something we do every year as a family, but it was the first time I was doing it as a vegan.
And I was stoked.
I had been scouring Yelp and Google to find places in the city I could eat at. Found a few places that looked promising, including Real Raw Organics.

Tangent time.

This place makes a tempeh reuben that is to die for.
To DIE for.
I still dream about it and I’m fucking PISSED that I live 3 hours away from them.
Good gawd, that sandwich was so good, I’m STILL dreaming about it.
Anyway, back to the original topic.
I ended up not being able to try this vegan Reuben until the next day because we got into OC too late. Real Raw Organics had closed.
Shit. Fuck. Fuck shit.
So my parents and I ended up going to this place called The Hobbit instead.
It’s a Tolkien themed restaurant, not vegan-friendly.
I was pretty sure I was going to have to order a fucking salad, which I hate.
Why on earth would I pay someone $12-$15 to toss some raw vegetables in a bowl?
I can do that shit at home. So yeah, I was pretty much certain that dinner was going to be a letdown…

…at least, that’s what I thought…

When the waiter came, we went ahead and told him that I was vegan and we didn’t think I could eat anything there.
His response?
“Oh, we actually have a ‘secret menu’ item that we improvise for vegans. It’s whatever seasonal vegetables we have sauteed and mixed with some other stuff”.
That’s better than salad, I guess.
We went ahead and put our orders in- I made sure that they used olive oil instead of butter- and waited to see what I’d get.
Well, lemme tell ya, honey…when my food got there, I was hella impressed. That kitchen crew went above and beyond.
Not only were there several kinds of vegetables in the dish, but there were gnocchi dumplings, too.
If you don’t know what gnocchi is, they’re tiny potato dumplings that constitute as a pasta. You should definitely try them if you haven’t already.
The whole thing was then topped off with some kind of balsamic vinaigrette or sauce.
Ugh, SOOOOOOO fucking good.
I tore it up. It was about all I could do to take a picture of it before I chowed down.
And that’s not all, either.
We went to 2 more non-vegan places on our trip and both of them were very accommodating.
So shout out to Touch of Italy and My Thai OC for being so gracious about the vegan diet.
If you’re ever in the OC, Maryland, area, go check all these places out.

Try it out for yourself…

Now I have a challenge for you.

The next time you find yourself going to a restaurant with your non-vegan peeps, try this stuff out.

Be honest with the restaurant staff and see what they do for you.

How do you think it’ll go?

Well, you’ll never know until you try.

So get on out there and try!

Also, hit me up on social media and let me know how it went for you!




Written by Ada

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