Eating out has been one of the biggest struggles for me during my years as a vegan. People always ask me how I can manage to stick to a vegan diet when I’m not cooking for myself at home. In all honesty, the answer to that question is this: while I do my best to stick to my vegan diet, that isn’t always the case. Occasionally I have found that it is best just to go with the flow of things and not make a fuss of my diet so I can focus on the experience itself and have a good time with my friends. In the grand scheme of things, getting cheese on your sandwich (despite the fact that you asked the waiter to cut it) isn’t a big deal. Scrape it off – it is not the end of the world 😉
While not every experience I’ve had ordering out as a vegan has been stellar, in this post I will show some tips I have learned along the way that significantly improve my success rate!
Look at the menu ahead of time
Over the years I have made a habit of researching the restaurant I’m planning on going to ahead of time. This way I can figure out if they offer any vegan options, and if not I will look for vegetarian items on the menu and figure out how I can make it vegan (i.e. if they have Eggplant Parmesan on the vegetarian menu then a simple fix is to cut out the parmesan and then I will have myself a satisfying vegan option).
Try ethnic cuisines
Something I’ve found since my vegan diet began is that many ethnic foods have naturally vegan options. Some of my favorite foods to eat are Mediterranean, Thai, and even Ethiopian. Here I can find curries, pad thai, falafel, hummus, bean stews, vegetables packed full of flavor and much, much more. I absolutely love how changing my diet has pushed me to try new and diverse foods that I wouldn’t have willingly ate before the switch.
If options are scarce, eat beforehand
There have been numerous times where I have found myself celebrating a birthday or another event and there is no other food option but old-fashioned Southern barbecue. In these cases I will eat something beforehand, rather than waiting to see what they have when I get there and being let down.
5 of My Favorite Restaurants in Houston
After years of researching and trying restaurants on a vegan diet, I have learned what my absolute favorite places to eat are 😛
This is my go-to restaurant when I’m out and need to grab a bite to eat. They have a plethora of sides to choose from so I can build my own veggie plate. For a full meal I will either get their Falafel Wrap or build a plate with 4 to 6 half-sides
Menu favorites: Chickpea Salad, Coriander Roasted Potatoes, Balsamic Roasted Veggies, Cucumber Salad, Hummus, Fried Cauliflower, Baba Ganoush
Location: West Houston
Green Seed is somewhat of a new discovery for me but it has become one of my biggest cravings. Their food is so good I would gladly eat here every day.
Menu Favorite: Rockin’ Tacos, Cauliflower Nuggets
3) Local Foods
Local Foods has a seasonal menu so they are able to use fresh, locally sourced ingredients for all of their sammies, salads, soups and sides. Not everything on the menu is vegan, but what they do offer for vegans is amazingly delicious.
Menu Favorites: Garden Sammie, Housemade Chips
Location: Rice Village – Montrose
4) Thai Spice
Remember how I mentioned earlier that one of the best ways to find vegan food at restaurants is by trying ethnic cuisines? Well, this is one of my favorite restaurants to go for that very thing. Most likely any curries or soups at Thai restaurants are coconut milk based, and they almost always have tofu to substitute for meat in noodle dishes.
Menu Favorites: Pineapple Fried Rice, Green Curry
Location: Rice Village – Montrose
Ruggles Green is mainly focused on catering all of the health-food junkies out there. They use local organic ingredients and offer an array of both vegetarian and vegan options on their menu.
Menu Favorites: Oh Kale Yeah Salad, Veggie Wrap, Veggie Nut Burger
Location(s): CityCentre, The Heights, Sugarland or The Woodlands
What is your experience is eating out as a vegan? Let me know in the comments below!