If you’re new to a plant-based lifestyle, you may be imagining the challenges out there waiting for you, including going out with a group of friends and not having anything to eat at a non-vegan restaurant. However, there’s no need to worry – the chances of you not being able to find vegan food is lower than waking up one day with a migraine and realizing you’re a sensate.
I usually only go to vegan or vegetarian restaurants. But occasionally, I would go to non-vegan restaurants that offer really great vegan options as a way to appreciate their gesture to accommodate customers who prefer a greener, healthier and more compassionate lifestyle.
Sometimes when I’m on the road, there’re really no vegan restaurants available, and my only bet would be to go into a non-vegan one and try to explain what I want. In some places it’s easier than others, but in general I don’t find it challenging. Here’re some tips that I’ve found helpful.
Be very clear about your request.
In addition to saying that you don’t want animal products in your food, it’s a good idea to actually list out things that you don’t eat because someone might believe fish are swimming vegetables in the sea. If you’re in a foreign country, downloading the Vegan Passport may help. The app includes a statement of what vegans do and don’t eat in 79 languages, with instructions for the chef on how to create a vegan meal. I haven’t had to use it yet, but it’s always good to have it on hand. If necessary, say you’re allergic to animal products such as eggs and dairy and that you’ll die if you ate it. 🙂
Be friendly and polite.
It may be really hard for some people to understand our choice to not eat animal products, and this may be the first time that the restaurant receives such a “weird” request. A smile and politeness can get you very far.
Express your gratitude.
If there are already marked vegan dishes on the menu, you can ask to talk to the chef to express your gratitude, and compliment on the food that you just had. You can also leave a positive review on Facebook so more people see that they provide vegan options.
Relax. It’s not the end of the world if your meal is not vegan.
Being vegan is about living according to our core values and inspiring others to choose a more compassionate lifestyle. It’s not about being “pure”. What really helps animals is how we can convey the message to the general public and inspire others to make a change, too. It’s great that we don’t eat animals, but if we act obnoxiously and put off all the other non-vegans who come into contact with us, it defeats the purpose of speaking up for those whose voices aren’t heard. In the case where the restaurant messes up your order, simply point it out politely, and chances are they will make you a new one!
If you can, inviting friends to vegan restaurants with you is also a good way to speak up for animals. I’ve done it numerous times over the past 9 years, and most of the time my friends were really impressed by how amazing their vegan dishes tasted.
Embarking on a plant-based journey is an exciting decision, and I wish you all the best! If you need any help or moral support, I’ll be here! 🙂