Thursday, January 28, 2010

Notes On Eating Vegan at a Restaurant

Preparing a vegan meal is a great thing to do, however if one gets pressed for time due to scheduling or otherwise cannot cook on Vegan Night, what options are available at a restaurant? Well I've noticed that more and more restaurants are popping up with vegetarian or vegan menus. Even some of the old stand-by's are offering certain vegetarian dishes. So what are some pitfalls to avoid when eating out? I'll tell you there are some, and the easiest thing to do is establish what protocols to follow at which places. Some places you'll need to specify that the item is to be prepared vegan. For instance at "Mexican restaurant" I might get a bean taco, or a side of refried beans: however I'll need to verify that the beans are not cooked in lard, and also ask for no cheese [maybe substitute guacamole for cheese.] Some Asian restaurants cater to vegetarians as many of their main dishes are natively vegetarian. Beware of the "cattle trough" buffet style Chinese restaurants; an easy litmus test is to ask if they have vegan spring rolls. If the answer is no, you probably won't find much choice aside from steamed vegetables and it's likely they won't even serve tofu. So scout them out, and cross them off your list [or talk to the owner; who knows...] Thai restaurants usually offer many vegetarian dishes and tofu based main dishes. Be sure to verify the curry sauce is made with coconut milk, and not actual cream or animal's milk. Sometimes you can specify that it is prepared vegan. I've had mixed luck with Pad-Thai as occasionally a pork bit will find it's way into the pasta; be sure to notify the owner so the cooks will be more careful and mindful. Some types of chili sauce may have been made with anchovies; but let's not forget the big picture- making the effort to eat vegan is very important, the details are important, but you are eating out after all :: I just try to do the best as is courteous. The most sure way, of course, is to cook it yourself.

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