Dining Out Tips
With a little planning, eating out doesn’t have to be difficult
What to Do When You’re Dining Away From Home
Looking for a place to eat? Check out our Compassionate Cuisine Champions!
Planning to eat out as a vegetarian or vegan? Unless you live in a mecca for veg-friendly restaurants, it can be a challenge, that’s why a little advance planning can make for a happy and stress-free experience. Here are some tips for eating out, taking road trips and what questions to ask when dining out.
You’ll be surprised to find that lots of restaurants are getting on board with compassionate eating and have at least one option for the vegan in the party, and many offer more than one option these days. Always best to call ahead or check menus on line to see what your options are before heading out.
If you are dining in the New York City area or Hudson Valley, Catskill Animal Sanctuary is proud to partner with a long list of vegan restaurants who offer a discount to our members. Our Compassionate Cuisine Champions program shows you how you can enjoy everything from sushi to doughnuts, Soul food to Asian cuisine, modern American and farm-to-table dining…all cruelty-free! Learn more about this program and see a list of restaurants on the Catskill Animal Sanctuary website.
Road warriors, don’t be intimidated or fearful that you’ll be stranded with nothing or nowhere to eat! A few simple tricks and you’ll never go hungry:
- Get back to basics and simply pack your own meals and snacks, that way you’re ready for anything. If you’re looking for plant-based meals to enjoy on the run, check out some of our recipes or search online for new ideas.
- Look for veg-friendly places to grab ingredients along your journey or at your destination. You’ll find independently owned natural foods stores as well as large chains where you can find what you need. Health Magazine recently did a feature on the ten healthiest grocery stores in the nation, see if there’s one along your travel route.
- Looking for food…fast? Choose Loving Hut, Native Foods, Moe’s, or Chipotle. Loving Hut and Native Foods, are 100 percent vegan fast food chains and their presence is growing. Loving Hut is now in over 40 locations across the U.S. and Native Foods plans on adding 200 new restaurants in the next 5 years. Moe’s and Chipotle also have many delicious vegan options. Fill your Moe’s burrito with tofu or beans, or try the tasty new Chipotle Sofritas, a burrito with organic braised tofu. Search online for options where you will be traveling.
- Another trick is to consider international cuisines like Indian, Japanese, Middle Eastern or Chinese which often have dishes made without animal products.
- Thanks to the folks at Happy Cow, you can search nationwide and around the world for restaurants, accommodations, stores and more. This site seems to have the most complete list of restaurants and lots of other helpful information, so bookmark this one for sure!
Questions to Ask When Eating Out
Have you ever eaten out at a restaurant where they tell you that yes, there are vegan – or vegetarian – options and then you find out that the vegetable soup is made with chicken stock or that the refried beans are made with lard? It’s a total bummer because then you’ve got to excuse yourself and find another place to eat – which wasn’t easy to begin with – or ask for a side of iceberg lettuce. Here are some questions to ask when dining in a non-vegan restaurant…and even better to call ahead with your questions:
- Is the soup made with meat, chicken or vegetable stock?
- Are the beans cooked with pork or another kind of meat, or lard?
- What kind of bread do you use? Does it contain milk or eggs?
- Is the pasta made here? Does it contain egg?
- Is there a sauce? What kind of sauce? Is there butter in it?
- What’s in the salad dressing? (raw egg, anchovies, etc.)
- What brand of veggie burgers do you use? Do they contain egg or dairy?
Make it clear that you won’t eat meat, chicken, fish, milk, eggs, cream, cheese, butter and honey. Be polite, be clear and be appreciative for taking your needs seriously. You may find that the owner or chef will reflect the needs of vegan customers in their future menu planning.
Dining out as a vegan does present some challenges, but they are getting easier to overcome thanks to good resources, new restaurants, consumer demand and a little thinking ahead on our part.