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Eating in restaurants (how strict do you get?)


VegannNY
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Was wondering how strict other vegans get when eating out in restaurants? Not talking about cheating, of course....but more like checking up on ingredients in things like the table bread, etc? (I've never bothered to ask the waitperson whether there were eggs or milk in the bread, for instance...and maybe other vegans do.) Thanks - I'm pretty much the only vegan in my social circle, so I've got nothing to compare to...!

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I do ask about ingredients at restaurants for things like bread. If you ask nicely usually the waitstaff don't mind checking, or at least that's been my experience.

 

I once met a vegan who refused to eat at any non-vegan restaurant for fear of cross-contamination. I think that's a little extreme. I suppose it would work if you lived in a magical place with tons of 100% vegan dining establishments, but for most of us that's not the reality.

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if it is one of those pretentious breakfast spots I ask about everything, same goes for a Mexican place I've never eaten at before. If it's Chinese or Thai I assume it's safe if there is no meat, oyster, eggs or egg noodles in my dish.

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Being that there are virtually no all vegan restaurants around me, I check with the waiter/waitress about ingredients in things like breads, dressings (or I just request vinegar and oil), pastas, and sauces......usually they're pretty accomodating

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I usually inquire about dishes the first time I go to a place, so that I don't have to ask again. Sometimes you'll be surprised - a Chinese place I went to had plenty of "vegetarian" dishes that didn't even have dairy or egg, but when I asked, it turned out their sauces all start out with a chicken broth.

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I'm probably as strict as you can be but it's not a big deal. I hang out with a lot of other vegans so we often go to vegan/vegetarian restaurants and if I book a table at some other place I always tell them that I'm vegan, explain what it means and make sure they are somewhat prepared for me. The only problem that sometimes occur is when the restaurant staff can't speak swedish or english and don't understand a thing I'm saying, but that's usually just sushi or falafel places where there's always an obvious vegan choice. We don't have much of the bread issues that you guys have, whey and milk is extremely uncommon in our breads.

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Lots of places the staff and the cook don't have a clue.

You ask and explain and they try their best. Then you get served and you ask what's that and they say "oh, yea that's right mayonnaise has eggs in it".

Glycerides in bread is more of what you might find in questionable USA breads, which no cook or waiter has a clue about. Honey can be too. The best thing you can do is learn as much as you can about what recipes usually contain and non-vegan ingredients and do you questioning from their.

 

PS I usually bring my own salad dressing and soy butter.

A plain salad (ask about cheese and cruton)and steamed veggies (ask about what they put on them) are usually a safe bet.

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I haven't eaten at one in years. Last one I ate at was Subway. And that was in very early 2006. Now I make all my food myself. My version of fast food = stuff you can get from Trader Joes or Raileys. Silk Soymilk( Which I can finish off a whole half gallon in mere minutes ), a couple of Laura Bars, ect.

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I just don't eat at non-veggie restaurants, it's not worth the bother.

 

My girlfriend has IBS so she doesn't eat out often (when she does she just has a plain salad and bread to be safe), when I'm out with my best mate (his diet is vegan) we'll go to a vegan place (none in our town, but there's one in the city 40 mins away). When other mates are eating out I'll just meet them afterwards, because in the past even if I've asked about a meal (if it's vegan) and double checked I still get paranoid incase there's something in it.

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I know the restaurants around here that are safe for me, and I usually stick to those. However, there are time I end up in a place like Smitty's which serves "Canadian" food, which is all unsafe. I just ask for a plate of vegetables and a balsamic vinaigrette or oil and vinegar. Every restaurant has veggies, oil, and vinegar. But I try to keep visiting places like that to seldom or never.

 

This is my basic guide to how I go about things:

 

Chinese food - Check what the noodles are made of and ask for no egg. If it is a soup check what stock they use.

 

Japanese - You can't eat any of the soups. Tempura probably has egg in the batter, and the salad dressing may have a non-vegan thickener in it (this is something non-Japanese cooks do, not authentic restaurants).

 

Mediterranean - Some of the rice dishes aren't safe (may contain butter), and some places have a thing for feta in their salads (only fake med places, such as Greek "med" places). Other than that you're fine.

 

Thai - I avoid Thai places, but if you go ask if they will hold the fish sauce or make the pad Thai vegan. If it's authentic they will probably laugh and say no. If you have a Thai friend she/he can help explain your requirements to the server, but they still might not compromise.

 

 

I stick with Chinese, sushi places and med food. I don't have experience with Mexican, Filipino, Ethiopian, Turkish or fast food places. Hope this gives you an idea how fellow vegans think.

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I try to go to Vegan friendly or vegetarian restaurants if I eat out, a place that actually has vegan written on the menu. I’m pretty strict.

One to many times I have asked and explained to the waiter that it can not contain eggs, cheese, butter, chicken broth in the rice etc...but ended up getting a vegetarian roll with chicken in it.

Most Vegan's….. I would guess have a few safe restaurants that they have had good experiences with and then feel comfortable about going back.

In Northern CA, I feel lucky there are a lot of vegan places to eat!

It is a great feeling going into a 100% vegan place and knowing that your food is not being contaminated with something you don’t want.

My favorite place to eat in Nor CA is this Chinese Buddhist monastery which has 3000 vegan nuns & monks. They not only have amazing fresh great food they give out free compassion to animal books to their customers to encourage a vegan diet.

OH can’t forget Cafe Gratitude!!

I eat there as often as I can because it feels like wholesome food- it’s organic and has great salads & seed cheese like something I would make at home. I prefer cooking at home or at my office kitchen anyway! Being a Chef I always get a sense of disappointment at a restaurant, because most times I could of made something better & healthier.

Check out Happy cow. net if your traveling, they always have a list of veg friendly places to eat.

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If it's Chinese or Thai I assume it's safe if there is no meat, oyster, eggs or egg noodles in my dish.

 

Just a note on that: I used to go to this Thai restaurant near my house very regularly and get the Tofu Pad Thai. Well come to find out they put oyster/fish sauce in it. And the woman I spoke to didn't seem to see why that would be a problem. Thai people. A country where there are tons of vegetarians. So, if you love Pad Thai like I did...I'd ask. And then you can be sad like me

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I don't eat out too often, but when I do I find going to chain places like taco bell or panera's very good options. These are well established places, have consistent menus and ingredients and other vegans also eat at them and post their findings. If I'm going anywhere i've not been i do a quick search for vegan and whatever the name of the restaurant is. Another thing to do is try cafes that serve food. I've found them to be fairly accommodating to vegans. I agree with eating chinese food. I also have not had problems with thai restaurants. The one big sticking point I see is the sauces. Oyster and fish sauce is common. I don't believe there is a vegan fish sauce but you've got decent chances with oyster sauce since there is actually vegetarian oyster sauce so if you feel like it have the staff check the source of that stuff. Mexican food is harder. There are quite a few people straight from mexico living here in Austin, and plenty of them serve food. Some use lard, some dont. Hope you've got friends that speak spanish if you dont Overall it's good to find vegans in your area or maybe in a big city next to where you are and maybe save eating out for that city if you really have no options. I lived in the midwest for a few years and I know how it can be like when you see fried cheese sticks at the chinese buffet.

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None of my close friends are vegan or vegetarian, but there are a couple awesome vegan restaurants in my city. But we only sometimes go to them. I am not overly strict, cuz the vegetarian options at restaurants blow so hardcore, lots don't even have any. I often opt for veggieburger if they have it or fries (which are probably cooked in animal fat 1/2 the time ). I hate the fact that so many restaurants feel a caesar salad is a great vegetarian option. I don't want to go pay $10 for some limp lettuce and stale bread drenched in mayo and parmesan. As for the asian foods thing, i eat that a lot too, but most often there is animal products used in that as well (ie. chicked bases or especially fish for thai food). You're honestly not really safe eating out unless the restaurant has a vegan gaurantee. When I am at a resaurant I order what looks like it is the safest choice, but I don't generally start interrogating the waiter/waitress about it.

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I hate the fact that so many restaurants feel a caesar salad is a great vegetarian option. I don't want to go pay $10 for some limp lettuce and stale bread drenched in mayo and parmesan.

 

Considering caesar salad isn't vegetarian (anchovies) I'm not sure why they would tell you it's a great vegetarian option...that's not right. I've had restaurants that will only give me a side salad that ends up being a plate of iceburg lettuce, but at least that's actually vegetarian.

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Anchovies? I live in Alberta, I've never ever seen anchovies on a ceasar salad in a restaurant, or anywhere. I'm not sure I've ever seen any fish on a salad. But I don't like eating salad at restaurants anyways, because like you said, it usually just a pile of lettuce.

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Wow, I was talking to my friend whos a cook and he was telling me all kinds of stuff. Like the anchovie paste in many dressings , and the menu even has beans that say they are vegetarian, but are covered in a sauce that uses chicken stock for the base. It's pretty messed up, especially when the menu is decieving like that.

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  • 3 months later...

You do your best. that's about all I can say. There is a good variety of vegan restaurants now in Orlando, but that wasn't the fact even 2 years ago. they seemed to have sprung out of nowhere. And right after I moved to O-town too, yippee!

Anyway when I go out with my vegan friends we opt for a vegan/vegetarian place that we know we can trust. When I go out with non vegan friends that aren't going to be swayed into going to a veg friendly place I just end up asking lots of questions, and pretty much interrogating the waitstaff, being as nice as possible of course. Much of the time I am pleasantly surprised when they know what vegan is. For instance I went to a Cheesecake Factory, and really didn't want a 10 dollar plate of lettuce, so I asked about the ingredients in the pizza crust, and ended up getting a tomato pie (pizza without cheese) People are more respectful now when you have questions because so many have allergic reactions to many different ingredints

 

PS I know this is an old post!.

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I usually look for all the ingredients at a restaurant I know I am going to, but some places I will make an exception. IE if I am on the road with friends and we stop off at a burrito place or somesuch. I will ask if everything is vegan, but I just trust their word for it, which isn't very thorough I admit :/

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  • 4 weeks later...

This is quite the subject isn't it! I feel like I fluctuate. Whether or not that's true, I've gotten to the point that I won't go somewhere with non veg friends of their choosing and sit with them while they eat meat. I won't eat from vendors that have no shame even if they have vegan food. My ex up here has a friend with a food cart on hawthorne, not only do I already hate the guy for sleeping with her "but not having sex" while we were together, but he's all proud to have a vegan bowl (which is tiny and pretty much just rice and cucumber), while having a giant sign that reads "Pulled Pork"! It's so ing to me! Man, I just feel sometimes like Freddie Mercury says: "Sometimes I feel I'm gonna BREAK down and cry.."! Cause everywhere around us, theres socially acceptable genocide and people smile about it, call it cultured, are totally numb to it's reality, wonder why the silly little vegans feel the way they do.

 

So as little as people follow suit, Most vegans at least make a conscious vote in our consumerism, as one of the little things we can do! Such as where we eat or buy our food from. Such an important thing! I like to only get more and more loud about it- to extend what little influence I feel I make- for how big of one I'd like to be making... SO I go on wearing my little vegan shirts, put stickers on my bike and car.. sigh. THinking about how I feel about strictness with restaurants brings all this up. Because if you're really strict about it, you're gonna 1. Have good moral reasoning, and 2. be affecting your life in regards to your non veg friends and family. It really stretches the bounds sometimes. Just like the many thanksgivings in high school that made my girl friend of the time break up with me. It's those few times a year, when your decision about food, bites someone in the ass.

 

Back to a more straight forward answer: If a place comes off meaty to me, I won't eat there. Unless it's quiznos which became suuuuper meaty a while ago, and I like to be loud about ordering my vegan sub because it seems the ones I've been to don't get much of that. So case by case, depending on how I feel. But damn, if a place serves certain key things, I do more than never eat there. I'd write a strongly worded letter! lol.

 

This brings up another issue that there may be a topic about already, but- traveling to other cultures! Screw all the BS people always say about how big of a disrespect it is to not "honor their food". Those people that say that can suck it. Yea I said it. If the people somewhere else can't respect how important it is for me not to eat animals, then they don't deserve my respect, and if that's going to be a problem, as Bernie Mack once said: "I keep my black ass out the pool"! as well as " I can't swim!! ... I'm a gangsta"! There is nearly no where you're gonna travel that you can't live off of at least just Bananas!

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