Though veganism is as easy as sugar snap peas when cooking at home, eating out can be where you feel the lack of choice. After having already raved about amazing vegan food that can be cooked at home, here is a handy guide to eating out as a vegan.
Firstly, vegan restaurants. There are a tonne of vegan and vegetarian restaurants in the city. London has a huge range, with new ones opening regularly, even Made in Chelsea stars are jumping to the challenge!
In every city there will likely be hidden gems, such as Terre a Terre in Brighton. Exclusively vegan restaurants are great, but lots of places with varied menus advertise vegan options too, and it's worth a quick google to check what’s up in your area. I found 2 amazing exclusively vegan and veggie places in Leeds; Bundobust which serves indian street food, and Global Tribe Cafe where I had a burger and cake - both amazing - proving vegan food can be just as incredible (or probably more so) than meat based dishes. It's also interesting and inspiring to see how inventive vegan food can be, and what tasty things can be done with a seemingly restricted diet.
Even though restaurants serving vegan options are growing, unfortunately there are plenty of places that have no meals free from meat, fish, dairy and eggs, which can make eating out with meat eating friends and family a little challenging.
Having said that, it’s pretty shocking these days to find a restaurant, in the UK at least, with no vegetarian options. Even though often the dishes on offer for veggies have some non-vegan ingredients, there’s nothing wrong with asking for something to be removed. If a beany burger comes with cheese, you could ask for no cheese - BUT sometimes the reason the dish isn’t vegan ain’t that easy to spot...
In this case, yes, it is awkward to ask the servers or chefs for no animal products. It’s awkward to be ‘that guy’ that KEEPs mentioning how they’re sooooo moral for being vegan… (or at least that’s what some people seem to think when you mention the V word…). To the servers however, it really shouldn’t matter.
People have all kinds of different diets that involve restriction, for example, dairy allergies! So there’s no need to give a lengthy explanation, just explain what you can’t have and find out what the restaurant can offer you. It might take a bit of effort and getting used to, but it’s easy enough to confirm dishes as AOK for vegans, and it probably won’t end up needing to happen often. Also, this will probably be one of the only regular occasions you need to reveal yourself as a vegan (Not all vegans bang on about it - believe it or not!).
You also learn what to look out for, for example butter on garlic bread, and learn what is usually safe, like chips, which makes everything much easier when ordering food in non-vegan restaurants.
Even if you make up a meal out of sides, don’t feel you have to miss out on meals with your meat eating friends and family.
Lastly, buying food to eat on the go; 'accidentally' eating out. Meal prep is ideal for lunches at work, uni or school, but we’ve all sacked this off for another half hour in bed or another episode of your favourite tv show, so if do you have to buy food when you’re out, it can sometimes be challenging to find food that is healthy, filling, cheap and vegan.
‘Meal deals’ are a big thing - the sandwich, the crisps, the drink - you know it. For vegans however, the choice is limited. Peta have listed a number of good options of common sandwiches, but if you can’t find a vegan option in your local corner shop or supermarket, here is some advice:
1. Look for cafes/delis that do takeaway hot paninis or salads, often they will have an extensive list of fillings and ingredients which you can pick and choose. Hummus, aubergine and red pepper paninis are one of my faves.
2. Snack during the day instead of having one big lunch. It’s the same as making up a dinner out of sides, make up a lunch out of snacks! Coop, Tesco and M&S are good for snacky vegan options, with little salad pots, energy bars and packets of hummus chips or popcorn. The problem with this approach is that it can create a lot of waste. It’s hard to be perfect and tick all the boxes if you’re eating on the go this way, but if you recycle whenever you can it’s not impossible to eat vegan and ethically on the go!