Eating out as a vegetarian or vegan, or anyone with different dietary needs, can often prove to be tricky. We have had a few lunches and dinners out recently, and there are often only one or two things suited to vegetarians on the menu. Being vegan would be even more difficult, as can be being dairy free for my small ones. Today I’m sharing my tips to make eating out with different dietary requirements a little bit easier. I am well aware that being vegetarian and vegan is a choice, but having options when eating out is still nice.
Do Your Research
When we are planning to go out to eat, I try to research the menu first. It’s always nice to have at least two options to choose from (so you actually have a choice!). So many restaurants have their own website, or you can check out sites such as Urban Spoon and hope someone has linked to the menu. If you have special requirements such as severe allergies, I would advise calling the restaurant or cafe to obtain their menu or ask about your options. We tend to frequent the same places, as we know we can trust them. They get to know what we usually have and are aware of the kids’ allergies so take care to get our order right.
Shortlist Some Cuisines
A couple of years ago we started an international food challenge with some of our friends. Names of cuisines we hadn’t necessarily tried before were written down and placed in a hat, then drawn out each month. It was great fun, and we tried food from many different countries. One thing I worked out was that not all cuisines are vegetarian friendly. The choices I found best were Asian cuisines (we tried Vietnamese, Filipino and Korean. Thai is also great), Indian, Mexican and Lebanese. Italian is also a great option, with vegetarian pizzas and pastas in abundance. We tried Korean BBQ, which was very meat heavy and even my vegetarian dish came with meat. German was also tricky – you know how much German restaurants love schnitzel and pork knuckle!
Choose Restaurants That Publicise an Alternate Menu
When I was in Melbourne we went to Maha, a Middle Eastern restaurant. My cousin chose it as they had a specific vegetarian and vegan menu. The service was incredible. The wait staff knew every single ingredient in their dishes, confirmed that I did eat egg and then proceeded to tell me how all the flavours in the dishes would work together. It obvious that they cared about all of their customers, and there weren’t just a cursory couple of dishes. It was the nicest meal I had eaten in a long time, and would definitely go there again.
Find a Specialist Restaurant or Cafe
These little gems are often in certain areas of the city. In Sydney, they can mainly be found in the inner west. Newtown and Enmore are crawling with vegan and vegetarian restaurants and supermarkets, which is fantastic. This weekend, we will be visiting a vegan cafe in the beautiful Blue Mountains. Rubyfruit was recommended to me by a vegan friend, and if you try it (even as a non-vegan) you will not be disappointed. We first went there a couple of years ago and loved it. For my kids, being able to go a cafe and order anything is a rare occurrence. Their cakes are absolutely delicious, and we’re all looking forward to trying them again. Being able to order a milkshake and having a choice of non-dairy milks is also a treat for my kids. Make sure you take home some rice milk chocolate – it is fantastic! I will be sure to post a report after our visit.
Do you have special dietary requirements? What types of restaurants do you like to frequent?