How Can I Eat Out in Restaurants if I’m vegetarian?

There is no reason why vegetarians cannot eat out in restaurants. Some restaurants now serve vegetarian food or are strictly vegetarian, and provide a relaxing haven where vegetarians can order anything on the menu.

Even that great American symbol of beef and cholesterol, McDonald’s, has Caesar salad, side salad, and its snack size fruit and walnut salad, as well as apple dippers with low calorie caramel dip. Ok, I’m not saying I condone eating at McDonalds because you still have to watch out for the salad dressing etc… But in a pinch you have at least something to eat! Remember, it’s key that you eat small meals throughout the day and not skip meals so have a little something to keep your metabolism going.

Check out the side dishes at nice restaurants-

A little secret I have for eating out at nice restaurants is looking at the side dishes.  I have had some amazing sauteed brocolini in sweet & spicy sauce, sautéed Spinach with garlic, oh so good! They add some wonderful flavors and spices to their veggie options.

Even chain restaurants like Outback Steakhouse offer side dishes of baked potatoes (eat sparingly), fresh seasonal veggies, sweet potatoes, wedge salads, and pecan chopped salads. Put some of those sides together and you have a good vegetarian meal.

Just ask

Most restaurants that do not list a vegetarian dinner will make a special vegetable plate if a customer asks for it. Think outside the box and ask for help being creative. They are usually more than happy to help.

Between the two extremes of vegan and carnivore lie most restaurants, which offer at least some veggie plates such as veggie pizza and lots of varieties of salads. So fear not, vegetarian, to eat out in restaurants. There’s enough out there that you will surely find something healthful to fill you.

In my area, we have The Loving Hut in the city of Orange. It’s a small, unpretentious restaurant with veggie burgers and other vegetarian Asian inspired faire that’s really delicious! They also have restaurants across the USA and internationally! Native Foods Café, with such tempting menu items as Poncho’s Quesavilla, has three Orange County locations. Au Lac in Fountain Valley serves such yummy Chinese and Vietnamese veggie dishes such as veggie spring rolls with peanut sauce, sates, pho, sweet and sour soup and a complete raw menu. The Veggie Grill and The Wheel of Life in Irvine and 118 Degrees Restaurant in Costa Mesa also specialize in vegetarian foods.  Of course, those restaurants are in the minority, but there is no restaurant that does not serve at least some fruits and vegetables.

Just do some research in your area and I bet you will be pleasantly surprised!

These websites may help you find the locations of vegetarian restaurants in your area.

http://www.happycow.net/

http://www.vegguide.org/.

http://www.vegdining.com/Home.cfm

Bon Appetite Veggie style!

Kardena Pauza

Author of Easy Veggie Meal Plans

6 Comments Leave a Comment

Comment by Patrick
2011-03-14 23:22:47

Oh wow nice to have you back Kardena! It was like I had no direction anymore. :)

Oh yes Au Lac – my favorites are: Da Bowl, The Green Pyramid, and De La Mamma. Oh and of course the desert is sooo yummy!

Native Foods – my favorite are: Chicken Run Ranch Burger and Soul Bowl. Yummy for the Tummy!

You always have good selections. I will try the other places next. Hmm.. maybe the Wheel of Life – that place has a cool name.

Good Day to you Kardena!

Comment by Kardena
2011-04-12 10:45:27

Love those dishes!
Try the Veggie Grill and their Kale Salad or Baja Fiesta salad with papaya, avocado and quinoa. Super tasty!
Sinful is their sweet potato fries.
Make it a wonderful day,
Kardena

 
 
Comment by Michael
2011-03-15 16:51:37

Yeah to your point I went to TENDER’s steak & seafood house with family in Las Vegas when I was on Vacation recently and meeting my family there who all live on the East Coast. I’m Vegetarian and they are not, and I don’t want food to ever come between us as it did one time in the past. It really hurt my relationship with my non-Vegetarian eating family as they were sick of me avoiding them, bringing my own food, or not eating out. So I honored the Restaurant they picked, and I joined them for dinner. We had a great time together! We shared all the great family stories from when we were younger, and really bonded as we only see each other 1 to 2 times per year. We’re getting older now, so every time we see each other its really valued.

I ordered the Arugula Salad-$8, Grilled Asparagus-$9 and the best Sautéed Organic Mushrooms I’ve ever had in my life for $9, wow! (Shitake’, Oyster & Crimini mushroom’s) On our $275 bill I only spent $26 plus tip, insanely cheap at a 5-Star Restaurant, and you know, I was really surprised how good the Side-Dishes were and I stayed on my healthy program! Kardena, you truly inspire me, I appreciate your Blog and you give the best information!

Mike

 
Comment by Kardena
2011-04-07 14:41:35

Hey Mike,

That’s a great example of how to eat out on a vegetarian diet & enjoy that important time with family and friends. Nice way to think out side the box! Thanks Mike,

Kardena

 
Comment by Sally Bennett
2011-04-19 09:05:33

Help! I live in a tiny, rural midwestern town and food like you mention would be considered from another planet! No such choices are available, even as side dishes, so it is almost impossible to eat out healthily here. Even the salad bars have dishes loaded with mayonnaise and who knows what else. Lettuce is always iceburg and not so fresh. It is just easier to cook and eat at home in order to know for sure what I am eating, and I do not like to cook. Fried chicken and fried catfish with potatoes etc. are considered healty and normal here and no one questions whether they are or not. It is frustrating and I feel like the odd person always. Thanks for letting me vent. I’ll just continue to prepare what I know is healthy at home.

Comment by Kardena
2011-05-27 21:26:52

Sally,
I’m just plain sorry for ya! I’ve taken road trips through the mid west and couldn’t find much to eat either, I just had to do my best and take extra digestive enzymes. I wish I could scoop you up and transport you to healthy land. It sounds like you are doing the best you can, maybe you can encourage someone to open a healthy restaurant or start a healthy potluck group that meets every couple of weeks and shares gourmet healthy dishes!
For now, yep home cooked is always the best!

 
 
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