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When we first went vegan, the thought of eating outside of the home totally freaked me out. I think my first conversation as a vegan with a waiter was like "Umm, so there's no meat, right? And what about eggs?? We don't eat eggs. Or milk. Is there any animal seasonings in the sauce? What about lactose? Can you please check the bread for mono- and di-glycerides?" and on. And on. AND obnoxiously, on. I felt there were hidden animal products lurking around every corner! I'm not that insane now (okay, I am, but in different ways!) I wished I had a list that told me the okay foods, the not so okay ones. So here are some tips that I hope help if you're as crazy as I was (okay, okay, AM!) There is also, of course, varying degrees of vegan comfort, so please
When planning to dine out, I always start here:
1. Google search:
2. Check out the menu online
3. Call the restaurant
4. Ask the waiter
5. Say thank you!
If it's an unexpected meal, here are a few GENERAL guidelines:
"Safe" foods to order (and what to watch out for)
Sometimes it's not the best, and twice I've visited places that literally had NO vegan options (including salad and fruit!!) But generally, they have one of the below options, or something that can easily be modified to exclude dairy, eggs, and meat.
Pasta with olive oil (not butter, white sauces)
Pasta with marinara sauce (meat free)
Bean and rice burrito (lard, chicken broth)
Plain white or brown rice
Veggie Burger (cheese and egg)
Pizza, sans cheese (check sauce for chicken stock)
Hummus, falafel, pita
Veggie chow mien
Tofu (check for oyster sauce)
Sno cones, Popsicles
Oatmeal (water, not milk)
Hash browns (ask for oil, not butter)
Fries (shared oil, seasoning)
Cotton Candy (Red dye)
Thai and Chinese: Fish sauce, egg
Mexican: Lard, chicken broth
Italian: Cheese, egg
French: Good luck finding something vegan! My brother managed a French restaurant, and even then we couldn't get anything vegan!
Vegan Fare at Restaurant Chains
Credit to: http://www.vegcooking.com/chainrestaurants.asp
Arby’s offers a baked potato and a garden salad or side salad with Italian dressing. Finish it all off with an apple or cherry turnover.
Backyard Burgers, a restaurant chain in the South and the Midwest, offers a delicious garden veggie sandwich.
Baskin-Robbins Dairy-free and gelatin-free ices and sorbets, which are just as yummy and cooling as ice cream—without the pus and hormones.
Bennigan’s: A delicious vegetarian Boca burger and a fresh garden salad are your options .
Boston Market has several vegan options, including the steamed vegetables, zucchini marinara, tossed salad (without the croutons and dressing), apple cobbler, chunky cinnamon applesauce, cranberry walnut relish, and fruit salad. The servers will also happily customize sandwiches upon request.
Bruegger’s Bagel Bakery has several breakfast and lunch options for vegans, including its blueberry, chocolate chip, cinnamon sugar, cranberry orange, pumpernickel, and rosemary olive oil bagels, which can be topped with fresh vegetables, Dijon mustard, or vegan hummus spread. Bruegger’s also serves several vegetarian sandwiches, which can be made vegan by leaving off the cheese and dressing.
Burger King’s BK Veggie™—a flame-broiled vegetarian burger (contains dairy products)—has enjoyed continued success. Every time a customer sees "BK Veggie™," it is a reminder that "having it your way" doesn't have to mean taking a bite out of Bessie.
Carl’s Jr. : The French fries, hash-brown nuggets, breadsticks, English muffins, and CrissCuts at Carl’s Jr. are all vegan. In the restaurant, there is an all-you-can-eat salad bar that offers a variety of fresh vegetables and a three-bean salad that can be topped with fat-free Italian dressing. Carl’s Jr. also offers Great Stuff™ baked potatoes, which can be ordered with all-vegetable margarine.
Cheeburger Cheeburger: The grilled portobello mushroom sandwich and Boca burger are vegan at Cheeburger Cheeburger, which can be found throughout the Midwest and the South and on the East Coast.
Cheers offers a vegan veggie burger. Load it up with all the fixings for a filling meal.
At Chili’s, you can have the tostada chips and salsa as appetizers, followed by the veggie quesadillas—replacing the cheese and sour cream with extra vegetables—or the Cadillac Fajitas without the meat.
Chipotle offers a vegetarian fajita burrito, but be sure to order it with black beans—the pinto beans are cooked with bacon.
The pizza sauce and dough at Chuck E. Cheese, Little Caesars, and Papa John’s are vegan, while Pizza Hut uses vegan sauce, and its Thin ’n Crispy and dessert crusts are vegan. By omitting the cheese and choosing your favorite vegetable toppings, you can easily make a delicious vegan pizza.
Cici’s Pizza is inexpensive and will deliver to your home. Just be sure to ask about the vegan status of each item on your pizza. Cici’s also offers a pasta-and-salad buffet with many vegan options.
The Broiled Portobello Stack at Claim Jumper is vegan if you ask for an unmarinated portobello mushroom.
Coco’s offers a delicious Boca burger that’s vegan if you order it without the mayonnaise.
A hot veggie sub is your vegan option at Cousin’s Subs.
The Daily Grill, located throughout California, offers a vegan grilled vegetable plate.
Dairy Queen offers a vegan "ice cream" bar called Star Kiss. Dairy Queen also has vegan slushes in cherry, grape, blue raspberry, lemon lime, watermelon, and kiwi strawberry flavors. The selection varies by location
Even Denny’s—known for its traditional breakfasts, lunches, and dinners—has some vegan options. Denny’s vegan foods include oatmeal, English muffins, bagels, grits, applesauce, fresh fruit, vegetable plates, seasoned French fries, baked potatoes with several vegetable toppings, garden salads with light Italian or oil-and-vinegar dressing, and sandwiches that can be made with several vegetable options. It also serves a vegetarian burger.
5 & Diner has several vegan options, including a vegetarian burger and the Veggie Delight.
The vegan option at Flamers Grill is the Veggie Pattie.
Hard Rock Cafe offers a vegetarian burger, a veggie sandwich, and salads.
You have several vegan options at Hard Times Café, including the Café Veggie Burger and the Veggie Chili. Be sure to tell your server that you don’t want any dairy products in your Veggie Chili.
Harvey’s, with locations in Canada, offers a vegan veggie burger.
Houston’s offers a veggie plate and the Vegetarian Burger. Just be sure to order the burger on vegan bread.
Swing by a Petro truck stop and you’ll find the Iron Skillet restaurant, where you can refuel with the stacked salad bar and spaghetti with meat-free sauce.
The Garden Po’ Boy, the Portobello Wrapini, and the Spinach Veggie Wrap are your vegan options at Jason’s Deli. Be sure to ask about the vegan status of each of these dishes—it varies by location.
John Harvard’s offers a grilled portobello mushroom sandwich and a veggie burger. Be sure to check the vegan status of your choice when ordering.
Johnny Rockets features the Streamliner, a vegan Boca burger with grilled onions, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and mustard.
Kelsey’s, with locations in Canada, has several vegan options, including Kelsey’s Vegetable Burger, the Roasted Vegetable Wrap, and the Vegetable Fajita. The vegan status of these dishes varies by location, so be sure to check with your server when ordering.
Macaroni Grill has several vegan options, including all the pastas with garlic and oil and its Capellini Pomodoro. Try these tasty bites without the cheese: Tomato Bruschetta and Penne Arrabbiata. When opting for a salad, choose the house or garden without the cheese and top it with the restaurant’s balsamic vinaigrette, Italian dressing, or roasted-garlic vinaigrette.
All of Manhattan Bagel’s bagels are vegan, except for the jalapeño cheddar cheese and egg varieties, and its bialys—a flattened onion-and-poppy-seed bagel—are also vegan. The Manhattan Grille and Vegetable Garden sandwiches can be made on a bagel, a roll, or a tortilla and are vegan if you omit the spreads and cheese.
To keep up with the times, McDonald’s is offering a McVeggie burger in California and New York City. This is a trial run, and support for this tremendous addition is vital so that the rest of the world can also have access to this quick, animal-friendly burger. No animals were harmed for this burger—talk about a “happy meal”!
The Veggie Stack sandwich is your vegan option at Mimi’s Café, which is located on the West Coast and in the Midwest.
All of Moe’s tacos, fajitas, salads, and burritos can be made vegan by substituting tofu for meat and skipping the cheese. Just be sure to ask for a vegan tortilla.
O’Naturals, a restaurant chain in New England, offers healthy, all-natural fast food for diners who want great food to go. Its menu features a large vegetarian selection, and vegan items are marked for easy identification.
A great place for bagels, breads, soups, salads, and sandwiches is Panera Bread. A bagel with roasted garlic hummus is one vegan possibility. Each location varies its menu options, so just ask about the vegan options before ordering.
P.F. Chang’s is one of the most vegan-friendly restaurant chains around. Its vegetarian menu is terrific, and everything can be made vegan, from appetizers such as Tofu Lettuce Wraps to entrées like Orange Peel Tofu.
Located throughout Florida, Pollo Tropical offers Caribbean-inspired fast food, including several vegan options such as the Vegetarian TropiChop entrée. Other vegan items include Balsamic Tomatoes and Bananas Tropical. The chain’s black beans, French fries, white rice, yellow rice, boiled yucca, and corn are vegan too.
Pyramid Brewery offers a Boca burger that can be substituted for any nonvegan burger on its menu. The Margarita Pizza is also vegan.
A great alternative to Subway is Quiznos Subs. It offers a veggie sub that’s filled with guacamole, black olives, lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, and mushrooms—just be sure to order it without the cheese and ask for the balsamic vinaigrette instead of the red wine vinaigrette. Grab a side garden salad and some potato chips, and your stomach will be appeased in no time.
The Natural Burger without the Safari Sauce and the Morningstar Garden Grill are the vegan options at Rainforest Café.
If you stop at Roy Rogers, you’ll find baked potatoes, sides of veggies, and a salad bar. And its mashed potatoes are vegan if you forgo the gravy.
Ruby Tuesday offers a fabulous veggie burger that’s vegan if you leave off the mayo and cheese. It also offers a yummy veggie burger wrap and has a terrific salad bar.
Shari’s offers a flame-grilled Gardenburger as its vegan option.
Subway’s Veggie Delite—on Italian bread and without cheese and mayo—isdelish! Want to spice things up a bit? After visiting Subway, visit the nearest grocery store, purchase some fake lunch meats, and load up your sub!
Sweet Tomatoes, located throughout the South and the West, has a variety of salads, sandwiches, and soups.
Ohio’s Swenson’s Drive-In offers the Veggie Special.
Several of Taco Bell’s dishes can be veganized simply by omitting a few ingredients. The 7-Layer Burrito can be vegan with five layers—just forgo the cheese and sour cream. The tacos, nachos, and Mexican pizzas are vegan when you ask the cashier to hold the meat, cheese, and sour cream. Or stick with the bean burrito without the cheese.
Tubby’s, with locations in Michigan, has the vegan Hot Veggie Stir-Fry Sandwich.
Village Inn has a Boca burger that is vegan if ordered without mayonnaise and cheese.
Head to Wendy’s for a plain baked potato, the Deluxe Garden Salad with red Italian dressing and no cheese, or French fries. You can also ask for a veggie sandwich, which includes everything that would normally be on the burger except the meat—there’s even a button for it on the cash register.
World Wraps, with locations in Washington and California, offers its vegan customers the Tofu and Mushroom Teriyaki and the Bombay Curry Veggie.
**This is info to the best of my knowledge, not set fact. Don't look me up to kick my ass if you eat some mammary gland-chicken period-lardy food. :-)