Lately I’ve had a few random and interesting conversations with people (both in person and online) who find it difficult to eat out as a vegetarian. I totally get it – I faced these very same challenges in the first few years after I went veg.
As I’ve been meat-free for quite some time now (more than 12 years), I reckon I know a thing or two that might help you out. So here’s how I’ve made this seemingly complicated situation work for me. It’s really simple and may even revolutionise your veg dining experiences.
If you’re anything like me, you probably do a little research before you eat out – checking menus online to make sure there’ll be something you can and more importantly, want to eat. Over the past few years, I’ve seen a shift with lots of eateries taking note of the growing population of people going veg or are reducing their meat intake. This has resulted in a lot more decent veg options which is fantastic.
Seeing a menu with little or unexciting veg options can be disheartening. But the good news is folks, it doesn’t have to be.
When faced with a menu that doesn’t appear to cater well for veg, there’s no need to get annoyed or frustrated. All is not lost! Smile and very kindly ask the server:
What vegetarian options do YOU suggest?
What’s great about this is that it opens up a dialog, gives the server an opportunity to get creative and it shows that you’re open to suggestions.
So what happens next?
Sometimes the server will offer a dish without certain ingredients, other times they’ll go to the kitchen to ask the chef for ideas. Either way, you’re letting them take charge and in most cases, I’ve certainly experienced a very positive (and tasty) result.
As long as you’re kind and you don’t be a dick about it, you’ll likely end up with something you’ll be really happy to eat.
Lunch today was an excellent example. The menu read ‘Sautéed kale, broccolini, baby carrot, barley, pine nut, crumbed fetta, smoked bacon, poached egg on sourdough’. Until the mention of bacon and egg, I was on board.
So, I spoke to the waitress and said “I love the sound of this! Unfortunately I don’t eat bacon or eggs because I’m vegetarian – are you able to adjust this dish?” The waitress responded by kindly offering to switch out the bacon and egg for mushroom and avocado. She also adjusted the price so that I wasn’t charged for the additional items. Perfect!
Of course, this isn’t always the case – some eateries don’t make dish adjustments or they charge for extras, even if you’re removing non-veg ingredients. And they’re well within their rights to do so. Don’t go getting all huffy about it, take your leave and find another place to spend your hard-earned.
Sometimes there’s a little bit of investigating involved. Here’s a few other things to consider:
- Dishes like soup or risotto can be made with meat or chicken stock so check with the staff before ordering
- Lots of base stocks or sauces in Asian cuisine contain fish sauce or oyster sauce so ask what’s in the dish
- If a master stock is used it may contain meat eg. pho, ramen noodle soup
I’d love to hear your experiences – how do you manage ordering when you eat out?
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