Dining Out When You Are VegetarianDining out can be a challenging experience for vegans and vegetarians. It can be difficult to find vegetarian options on the menu. In some cases, dishes may be cooked with ingredients vegetarians avoid like butter, chicken stock and gelatin. Keep in mind these tips when dining away from home.
· For starters, check menus for symbols such as a v or a leaf marking dishes as vegetarian or vegan. When in doubt, ask the wait staff. Increasingly, servers are being trained to meet the needs of non-meat eaters.
· Don’t be afraid to make a special request. Some chefs will modify a dish so it fits into your diet.
· When ordering, consider vegetable appetizers or side dishes as your main course.
· At social events, work functions or other catered events, request a vegetarian meal in advance.
· Finding meatless options at fast food restaurants can be challenging, but many restaurants now have salad menus and sandwiches with vegetable or meat substitute fillings. Breakfast items are often vegetarian friendly, especially for lacto-ovo-vegetarians.
· Dining at a friend’s house? This can be tricky if only one main course is being served. If you are invited to someone’s house for a meal, let your host know in advance about which foods you do not eat. You can also offer to bring a vegetarian dish to share.
· Ethnic restaurants are often ideal for vegetarians. Asian menus, such as Chinese, Japanese, Thai and Vietnamese, feature a variety of meatless options including rice and noodle dishes containing vegetables and tofu.. South Asian cuisines, including Indian, Sri Lankan, Burmese, Pakistani and Nepali, are known for meatless dishes using breads, lentils, beans, rice, curried vegetables and yogurts. If you do not consume dairy, ensure your dishes are prepared in vegetable oil instead of common ingredients like ghee (clarified butter), cream and paneer (a type of cheese). Also, be wary of fried dishes as they can be high in calories.
Italian, Greek and Middle Eastern foods offer many meatless options such as pasta primavera, pasta marinara, falafel, couscous, minestrone soup, eggplant dishes, Greek salads and tabbouleh. Vegetarian-friendly Mexican cuisine may include burritos, fajitas, tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas and tamales made using rice, beans and cheese. Spanish rice, guacamole and salsa are also vegetarian.
Source: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Eat Right website.