Becoming a vegetarian is a great way to improve your health and reduce your impact on the environment, but the transition might be challenging at first. While you can control what you eat at home, heading to restaurants is going to be a bit more difficult. Here are a few tips for new vegetarians who don’t want to give up eating out with friends.
Start Doing Your Research
The single best thing that you can do as a new vegetarian is to start researching as many restaurants as possible. Going to vegetarian restaurants might seem like an ideal option, but it will most likely be easier to find vegetarian dishes at the restaurants that your friends already enjoy. Most major chains post their menus online, and those menus generally have icons next to all of their vegetarian dishes. If a restaurant doesn’t have an online menu, then you will need to call ahead.
Pick a Few Go-to Dishes
Practically every restaurant has at least a few popular vegetarian dishes, and many of those options can be found in a variety of cuisines. You might be able to find the same vegetarian soups or salads at dozens of different sandwich shops and pizza joints around town. Vegetarian side dishes such as beans and steamed vegetables can be found at most chain restaurants as well. As long as a restaurant has one or two of those dishes, you can rest assured that you won’t leave hungry.
Find Vegetarian Ingredients That Are Easy to Substitute
Almost every meat dish can be turned into a vegetarian dish with a few substitutions. That being said, some meat substitutes are much easier for chefs to work with than others. As a general rule, tofu and tempeh can be used to replace most meats. Some chefs also offer lentil and black bean patties instead of ground beef burgers. Bacon bits and other meat toppings can be taken out of most dishes entirely.
Don’t Hesitate to Suggest Fast Food
Fast food might not be your first choice, but those restaurants almost always have a few vegetarian meals. If they don’t have full vegetarian meals, then they might offer vegetarian sides. French fries and tater tots aren’t necessarily healthy options, but they usually contain no meat products. Just because you have decided to stick to a vegetarian diet doesn’t mean that every single meal is going to be nutritious.
Cutting meat out of your diet is going to require some extra work, but that doesn’t mean you need to turn your life upside down. With a little bit of planning, you should be able to find delicious vegetarian dishes at most of the restaurants that you and your friends love.