Have you ever tried to eat vegetarian at a restaurant that doesn’t even have a veggies section on its menu? In the 11 years that I was a full-on vegetarian, I struggled to learn the ins and outs of avoiding meat in a carnivore’s world.
Here is some of my wisdom to help get you through.
You’ll probably have to compromise.
Most restaurants don’t segregate their food production, so that menu item that doesn’t contain meat may come into contact with serving utensils or cooking and prep areas that did touch meat. This is an important distinction for some vegetarians, and it can mean that there is nothing on the menu that will work for you.
You safest bet is probably a salad. Because of the food safety regulations, vegetables that will be served raw are more likely to be kept away from meat to prevent cross-contamination. Just beware the bacon bits —- some restaurants just can’t keep them off even the veggiest of salads.
It will be much easier for you to pick your meal.
Most non-vegetarian restaurants have only a small set of meat-free options, which makes choosing a meal a breeze. Your meat-eating friends will be wading through an entire menu of options long after you’ve made up your mind. Order a glass of water so you can hydrate while you’re waiting.
Over time, you will find the best blend of menu choices for you and your friends.
I noticed that there are two types of vegetarians — the ones who want to convert everyone around them and the ones who just want to pass for normal. I was definitely the latter type, so it was important for me not to be the reason we could never eat out as a group again.
I developed a love for garden salads and steamed rice in my early vegetarian days. Then I found a set of restaurants that catered to vegetarians, such as Cafe Yumm in Eugene, Ore., offering a wide selection of veggie-friendly foods that also appealed to my avowed carnivore of a husband. Even though we don’t live anywhere near a Cafe Yumm anymore, we still enjoy a hearty meal of veggie chili, brown rice, and Yumm sauce.
What are your tips for eating veggie in a non-veggie world? Share them in the comments below.