how to eat vegan

How to Eat Vegan at Any Restaurant: The Complete Guide

Are you trying to figure out how to eat vegan at any restaurant. Or what to eat on a vegan diet when eating out?

In this article we are going to be talking about exactly what you need to do in order to eat out on a vegan diet.

These tips will help you to not only be able to eat out more. But will help you to do so with more confidence and less stress!

Eating out when you follow a vegan diet can be stressful and intimidating. Which is why I wanted to make a helpful list of tips. So that, you could eat out with your friends and family and still enjoy yourself.

So, keep reading to find out how vegans eat out and how you can best plan to eat out while still eating good vegan food!

How to Eat Vegan at Any Restaurant

Most of us do not have the pleasure of living in an area that has vegan restaurants. Believe me, I have lived in small towns all of my time being vegan, and it’s not always easy!

There is nothing worse than going out to eat with family or friends. Only to find nothing on the menu that can be made vegan. Not only is it embarrassing, it is frustrating as well!

So, I hope that this post can help you to be better prepared for those scenarios from here on out. And don’t forget to read till the end to find out which kinds of restaurants have the best vegan options.

Related: Vegan Diet Tips for Beginners

Look Up the Menu

This is by far my favorite tip for eating out on a vegan diet as it is the easiest and least embarrassing!

Many restaurants now have websites where you can pull up the menu to scan it before ever walking into the restaurant.

This is a great way to find out if there are any options for you to eat instead of finding that out once you are already there.

You would be surprised at how many restaurants literally have no vegan options available. So, this is a very handy option if it is available to you.

You should also try to take portable menus home with you when you can, so that you can have them on hand to help you remember the vegan options available.

Call Ahead

When you are trying to find out how to eat vegan when dining out. You might have to try out a few different approaches.

Some restaurants may not have a website or menu available online to view. So, when this happens your next best option is to call the restaurant to ask them yourself.

This option is not ideal, at least not to me! It can be awkward to try to talk on the phone and is usually far less helpful then being able to just look at a menu.

The best way to find out what you need to know is to do one or all of the following:

  • Ask if they have vegan options
  • Ask if they have vegetarian options
  • Ask if the ingredients dishes can be subbed out

These are some of the best questions that you can ask. Many people may not know what a vegan diet is. So, the next best option is to see if they have vegetarian dishes which can be made vegan.

You should be able to tell from the call if this is a restaurant that is worth visiting or not.

Be Clear When Ordering

When you have decided on a restaurant and are ordering your food this is the time to be as clear as possible.

Try to avoid words like vegan or plant-based. As these can be confusing to people who don’t know much about these diets.

Clearly say that you want no meat, cheese, sour cream, milk, etc. as these are easily recognized ingredients. What you clarify on will of course depend on what you are ordering in what kind of restaurant.

You might even need to clarify that you want no cheese or sour cream on top of your food as we. Since it can sometimes be thrown on top without much thought even if you have asked that it be left out.

The best way to avoid mistakes and un-need frustration is to be clear with your order. And don’t forget to be polite and understanding with the person taking your order!

how to eat vegan

Don’t be Afraid to Ask

Another important thing to remember when looking into what to eat on a vegan diet when dining out is to not be afraid to ask about things.

Most restaurants are happy to make substitutions or to leave certain ingredients out if you ask them to.

Depending on the dish you could ask for all dairy and meat to be excluded. Most restaurants will be more then willing to help you out, especially since leaving ingredients out is a relatively small change to make.

You could even get creative and ask to have several sides put on one plate to make a full meal. If your other options are scarce. Even if a restaurant is not very vegan friendly. There will usually be at least one or two side options that are vegan or can be made vegan.

When in doubt just ask because it can’t hurt and more often than not they are happy to help you get the meal that you want.

How to Read a Menu Like a Pro

One part of how to eat vegan when dinning out is learning to read a menu like a pro. This skill will come with time and become very hand!

Dining out as a vegan can be difficult and downright stressful to be honest. But you still might be able to enjoy yourself if you know how to handle the situation.

Knowing how to read the menu for vegan options and how to ask for vegan substitutes is half the battle. And if you are angler to master these two skills you will be good to go!

So, here are a few helpful tips to help you navigate a restaurant menu like a vegan pro!

Look for Vegan Icons

When you are looking through a menu the first thing you should do is look to see if there are any signs or icons that indicate that a meal is vegan.

These will often be abbreviations or a little V next to the meal. Not too many restaurants have these yet, but it is certainly worth looking for.

Look for Vegetarian Options

This is one of the easiest ways for vegans to eat out as vegetarian options can be adapted to be vegan friendly.

Just make sure to be ready to tell the person taking the order that you don’t want any animal products depending on what kind of meal it is.

It is pretty easy to know what kinds of animal products will be in certain dishes. So just be ready to ask for the dish to be adjusted. Most cooks will be more than willing to help you out in creating a vegan friendly dish.

Look at the Substitutes

This is another great tip as some restaurants offer substitutions in their recipes. Chinese restaurants for instance often offer several meat options along with a tofu or veggie option.

Even if substitutes aren’t shown on the menu, there is still a good chance that the cook would be more than happy to help you out.

You can ask for the vegan friendly substitute and make any other adjustments to the dish that you need to.

Look for Allergy Friendly Dishes

If a restaurant offers options that cater to allergies like fish, dairy, and gluten allergies, keep an eye out for these dishes. You just might be able to find one that can be easily veganized.

With just a few changes you can often turn an allergy friendly meal into a vegan one!

Common Vegan Friendly Restaurants

This is a tricky section of this article as it is hard to pick out vegan friendly restaurants. They are all so different depending on owner and location.

But I have tried my best to compile a list of restaurants that often do offer a good selection of vegan friendly meals. Or that can easily adapt certain dishes to be vegan friendly.

Just keep in mind that these restaurants might be different depending on where you are and every restaurant owner is going to be different.

Vegan Restaurants

The most obvious choice for vegans eating out is to eat at specifically vegan restaurants.

Unfortunately, not all places have these types of options so don’t worry if you don’t have a vegan restaurant near you.

If you do, you can enjoy the ease of eating at one!

Vegetarian Restaurants

The next best option if you don’t have a vegan restaurant is to go to a vegetarian one!

These restaurants already have excluded meat from the menu so all you will need to do is ask for substitutions. Which they will most likely happily oblige.

This is a great low-stress option, especially if you are new to veganism or are eating out with friends or family.

Restaurants That Cater to Food Allergies

Another great kind of restaurant that you might have not thought of is restaurants that cater to food allergies.

These are usually mainly gluten free restaurants. But many of them may offer meals that are dairy and egg free as well.

With a few substitutions you could easily find some tasty meals at restaurants like these! Which makes these kinds of restaurants another low-stress option when it comes to eating out on a vegan diet.

Thai Restaurants

Thai restaurants naturally offer a good selection of vegan options that you can choose from. Often times any meat or fish can easily be removed from the dish as well.

Most of the Thai dishes won’t contain dairy but you will want to clarify that you don’t want any eggs or fish sauce added to your food.

Keep in mind that many specialty drinks may contain milk or condensed milk as well. So, you will need to either avoid them or ask if they can be substituted with something.

Chinese Restaurants

When deciding how to eat vegan when eating out, Chinese restaurants are my favorite option to go with!

They usually have lots of options where any meat or fish can be substituted with tofu or veggies. Making it very easy to quickly create a vegan friendly dish for yourself that is still satisfying.

The biggest things to ask about is added eggs, fish sauce, and oyster sauce.

Japanese Restaurants

Like Chinese restaurants, Japanese food often caters to vegans and can be easily adapted according to what you are wanting.

They have many kinds of veggie dishes, soups, and noodles to choose from, giving you many options!

Just make sure to clarify that you don’t want any eggs, fish sauce, or bonito flakes which is dried fish. Other than that, it is relatively easy to eat vegan at Japanese restaurants.

Italian Restaurants

Italian restaurants can be a little trickier but are still worth trying out.

Many pasta dishes and red sauces are vegan friendly, you will just need to ask the person taking the order about what the dish contains.

Many breads are vegan friendly as well, but this will really depend on each restaurant individually. If there is a pizza option you can easily ask for a veggie pizza with no added cheese.

Make sure to clarify that you want no meat, cheese, or parmesan added to your food.

Greek Restaurants

Greek restaurants are another great options for vegans eating out as there are many accidently vegan Greek foods.

Such as vegetable dishes, pita bread, salads, hummus, and veggie wraps. Just make sure that you ask for no cheese or yogurt.

Specialty Pizza Restaurants

One surprisingly great option for vegans is to eat out at specialty pizza places. Small family owned places often offer much better options then the chain pizza restaurants do.

You will often have the option to create your own pizza and you can always ask just to make sure the crust and sauce are vegan friendly.

You can easily create a hearty vegetable pizza. Just make sure to clarify that you do not want any cheese or meat added.

Middle Eastern Restaurants

Middle eastern restaurants often offer good vegan options such as pita bread, curries, rice, falafels, and couscous.

Just make sure to ask for no meat, cheese, or yogurt to avoid anything being added on last minute.

Indian Restaurants

Indian restaurants can also be a good option when looking into how to eat vegan when dinning out with family and friends.

There are all kinds of options from samosas to naan bread to rice dishes. You will most likely have a wonderful variety!

Just make sure to ask that no ghee, paneer, cream, butter, or yogurt be added to your food.


I hope that this article on what to eat on a vegan diet when eating out has helped you.

Eating out as a vegan can seem very hard and stressful but it doesn’t have to be! And as I have said before, my goal is to make you feel more comfortable and less worried about your vegan diet.

As you can see from the options above, you have a lot to choose from. So, don’t worry about eating out just make sure you go prepared! Picking the right restaurant can make or break your outing, so do your research ahead of time. Never go unprepared!

Going out to eat prepared will help you to feel much more at ease and comfortable. As you will already know that you will have vegan options available at the restaurant.

Where do you like to eat out the most on your vegan diet?

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