A Vegetarian’s Guide to Eating Out

For many new or wannabe vegetarians, the fear of never eating out except at a vegan or vegetarian restaurant keeps them from inviting friends out for dinner. Or worse, that fear keeps them from accepting dinner invitations from family and friends. If you find yourself in that predicament, rest assured you can eat almost anywhere and still find a satisfying vegetarian meal.

Quality Restaurants

Almost always, you will find vegetarian entrees on the menu. If not, ask your server what is available. Most chefs in quality restaurants are more than happy to whip something up. It shows their talent, feeds their ego and gets you an outstanding meal.

If you know you are going to be eating in restaurant X on Saturday, call ahead and ask if they offer vegetarian entrees and if not, can something special be prepared. Most often than not, you will get a yes.

Upscale Food Chains

Most all of the better chain food restaurants have salad bars. Many have extensive, well stocked salad bars. Look at the soup bars also; many of the soups are bean based with no meat.

If not, all have something vegetarian on the menu. Even the larger steakhouse chains offer baked potatoes and side salads that can make your meal while your friends enjoy their steak and fries.

Fast Food

If you thought you’d never dine again under the Golden Arches, you were wrong. All fast food chains now offer garden salads in a wide variety of different flavors. Order your salad with no meat and you’re set to go. Depending on the chain, you can add a baked potato, yogurt and fruit or a number of other meatless items off the menu.

Eating with Friends and Family

We’ve all experienced it, the family member or friend that just will not accept that you’ve gone meatless. It’s tough. Here they are worrying about your health and you are worrying about hurting their feelings. This is one time, you really do have to stand firm.

If the meal is centered on a meat main dish, eat from the side dishes only. If asked, reconfirm your dedication to your new lifestyle. Parents especially have a hard time with this, coming from a meat and potato generation.

Assure the well meaning, but often misguided, loved one that you are indeed paying attention to your health. That you feel, and you have the research to back it up, that your diet is the perfect diet for you. Offer to show them websites, books and magazines so they can learn more.

As a way of convincing unbelievers, try inviting them for a meal that you cook. Make the meal simple, yet scrumptious and elegant. Or go Italian; serve a simple green salad and vegetarian lasagna.

If you truly feel they will be uncomfortable with a totally meatless meal, try dishes that include TVP or other meat substitutes. That way they will think they are eating familiar foods and will go a long way to assure them that you are eating right. The possibilities are endless and you never know, you may convert someone yourself.

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