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Dining Out


Restaurant table with wine glasses

Today, I have 2 questions, well, 2 main questions and some follow ups. 😃


One for the veg-curious who occasionally look for the plant-based or vegan options at a restaurant and one for the vegan who is dining at a restaurant that is not vegan but does or seems to have vegan options.


Question 1 - for the veg-curious

When dining out, what types of dishes are you looking for when you're looking for a vegan or plant-based option? What on the menu helps you identify those options? What would make it easier for you to identify them? Do you typically find the waitstaff helpful? What types of questions do you ask them? What makes you seek out a plant-based option in the first place? What makes you feel confident that you'll receive the vegan dish you asked for?


Question 2 - for the vegans

When dining out at a non-vegan restaurant, what do you look for first to determine if you can eat there at all? Do you call ahead? If so, what types of questions do you ask? If you didn't call ahead, do you ask the server questions? If so, what do you ask? Do you find the waitstaff helpful? What makes you feel confident about ordering a vegan dish in a non-veg restaurant? What could the staff do to make the experience a positive one? What would make you tell all of the vegans you know that they had to go to that restaurant? Do you use an app to find veg-friendly places? If so, which one(s)?


In the comments below, let me know if you're answering question 1 or 2 and go for it! The reason why I'm asking these questions will be shared before the blogging month is through! It's something new I'm working on and am curious about the responses, they'll be of tremendous help as I work on this new thing. 😃😃😃


Thanks in advance!


Here are two apps I use pretty regularly when seeking a veg-friendly restaurant nearby.


Vanilla Bean - using your phone's location this app pulls up all vegan and veg-friendly restaurants nearby. I love this app but will admit it's at its best when you're in the area you're hoping to eat. I have found trying to search by the zip code or town I'm going to produces less results. The website, however, is much more helpful if searching a location ahead of time.


Happy Cow - tried and true, Happy Cow has been around for a loooonnngggg time, but not always up-to-date. The search option in the app does work well so, if you're planning to travel to a specific restaurant, call ahead to make sure they're still open/hours haven't changed.


I use them both and have discovered some pretty incredible places, happy dining!!




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14 Comments


Glenda Cates
Glenda Cates
Jan 23
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Good morning, thank you for sharing the apps with us which I hadn't heard of but a lot of foods bother's my son and my sister and now we may be able to find new restaurants to try.

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Thanks for reading Glenda, I hope you are able to find more restaurants you can all enjoy. What types of items are you typically looking for on a menu that would allow all 3 of you to eat there? What types of labeling help you?

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Guest
Jan 22

I'm a pescatarian, leaning more and more toward vegan food choices, and will often opt for a vegan option when I eat out. Thanks for the resources to find cool places to eat Kimberly.

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It could be any number of reasons. I always like trying new vegan options that are more than pasta with marinara sauce or a meat substitute. Fish is my fallback if that doesn't work out for me.

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Guest
Jan 22

While retail is doing.a good job developing their plant based offers, I feel restaurants in Switzerland are not there yet. If you're looking for an exclusively vegan restaurant you'll have to drive into the city, and it'll be an expensive experience. Upon googling, I found one that will be located inside a posh hotel as of February. Looking at hotel room prices, it's already clear, dinner will be super pricey as well. Plus they indicate, there's a smart casual dress code. Geez! If you're eating at a regular restaurant you'll often find symbols next to a dish that tell you it's suitable for vegetarians or vegans. That's usually a veggie platter or risotto. Tamara

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Thanks, Tamara! Wow, sounds like eating at an all-vegan restaurant in Switzerland is still more of a special occasion outing than a regular Friday night, let's go out to eat kinda thing. Do you ever choose the vegan option when you're out at a standard restaurant? If so, what makes you pick that over other menu items? If not, what, if anything, do you think might make you consider it?

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Question 2- I always like to check the menu online first. Them if I see something labeled that it is vegan or that it can be, I like to call and ask about the item. When I'm at the restaurant I let the waiter know I'm vegan and that I don't eat meat or dairy or eggs. Honestly, I go to red robin a lot and get the quinoa burger. Without the aoli, Cheese and bun, but I ask everytime because one restaurant told me the bun was vegan there and there's said it wasn't. I do like that a lot of places have where you can read the ingredients in each item, and shows how to customize to make…

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Thanks, Laura, this is very helpful! If a standard restaurant includes a vegan section on their menu, does that make you feel more confident about their offerings or are you still wary/feel more comfortable asking questions? What would a menu have to include to make you feel fully confident that the staff know what vegan means and that you'll get the dish you're asking for?

I love when the server has suggestions based on their own vegan experience there or that of another staff member!

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Question 2: First I check out the online menu to see if they have vegan options and how they describe them. Then, I call to verify and see if they really know what ‘vegan’ actually means, and are they still offering those options. (Things change.) There is a tendency to think ‘gluten free’ is the same as ‘ vegan’. (Why??💁‍♀️)

Then, when I go to the restaurant, I also ask the server if they understand the difference ( even if the menu says a dish is vegan). I ran into this exact situation recently at a restaurant in Albany, NY. Server thought gluten free = vegan. As far as apps, I will use Happy Cow and Google search as a starting…

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I’m totally with you on the gluten.😄I might ask additional questions about how the dish is cooked (like avoiding cross contamination with meat). You know I have been in the restaurant business, so I am possibly more picky than some people. If there were some way to certify vegan adherence for omni restaurants, like leaping bunny approved, that would be amazing and reassuring. However, in place of that, maybe some type of educational program, flyer or something that a restaurant could use to train their staff? Even a statement on the menu might work.


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