Guide to Eating Out for a Vegetarian

Eating out

Some meat eaters might wonder about this guide to eating out for a vegetarian. Why would one need such a thing?

They wonder because they have not had to go through the food experiences (or should I say “lack of food” experiences ) that vegetarian have to endure.

Have you struggled with finding food to eat when you go out? Are you less that happy with what you are served for a vegetarian meal?

Are you often left out of the menu plans completely?

Have you ever had the experience of going to a function, being told that vegetarian food is provided just to find out that what is provided is fish.

When did fish become a plant!

Can you relate to these experiences?


I have been to a posh anniversary dinner held at a posh hotel. There were three choices of meat for the meat eaters and they didn’t have to worry their heads about what to choose. They could have all three. I think I was the only person there who requested a vegetarian meal and the hotel was informed of this beforehand. Can you imagine my dismay when they opened a sappy, pathetic tin of mixed vegetables and dumped it on my plate! It wasn’t even crisp, fresh looking vegetables. Just bits of carrots, string beans and corn. And you know how wimpy that can look floating around in a tin of water for months.

I looked around at everyone having their chicken, fish and mutton, handed them back my plate and decided to eat when I got home. I wasn’t a happy camper at all.


Is it only me, or do you get the feeling sometimes that people think you are a rabbit. Why do they think vegetarians only eat a bunch of raw leaves and raw vegetables.

Years ago when meals used to be served on airplanes, I remember I was on a flight and pre ordered a vegetarian meal. I felt kind of special when I was singled out to be served first. Even before the serving cart came into the aisle, one of the flight attendants brought my meal to me. Well all the special feeling left when I opened the package. What I saw was what looked like a head of cauliflower. Raw. To be honest, I can’t remember if anything else came with it like maybe some salad dressing. The only thing that stand out in my mind is the head of cauliflower. I probably should have looked at myself in the mirror. Maybe I had grown long ears and whiskers and didn’t know.

Yet another

You know what else is annoying? When you have that special group meeting or workshop planned. It might be a work group, a church group or other social group. Some bright person, most times the leader, when asked if we should walk with our lunch, says, “Oh no. We will provide lunch. Don’t worry about it”. So you don’t worry because after all, he knows you are vegetarian. The workshop is going long and finally there is the break for lunch. “Let’s go eat”, he says. So you join the rest of your hungry colleagues and go to the eating area where they all dive into the bucket of ……. Kentucky Fried Chicken. You look around for what you will eat and when you realize there is nothing you go over to a corner to “meditate”. To make matters worse, your leader shouts across the room with great concern “Hey aren’t you eating?”

And there are the times when you are just blatantly ignored.

Yep. One more.

So the group did very well and the leader wants to reward you all for a job well done. He is going to treat the whole group to a catered meal. So he goes around the room taking the orders. You want fish? How would you like the fish? Fried, stewed. You want chicken? Fried, Barbecued, baked……..

You put up your hand. “Can I have sweet and sour tofu?”

Leader moves right along to the next person. Do you want chicken, fish? Another member of the group says, can I get some plantain with the meal. Leader responds, “I will ask the caterer to add it. Shouldn’t be a problem”.

You again. “What about some sweet and sour tofu”. No response…….then “We”ll see”.

We’ll see nothing………..except fish and chicken.

Guess what? You can survive eating out as a vegetarian.

Even though it is difficult at times when you eat out with friends and colleagues, there are things you can do to ensure that you will be fed and will not have to spend all the time eating raw salad and drinking water while your friends dine on their sumptuous meals. You don’t have to remain hungry while they stuff themselves.

Here are some tips you can take to ensure that you don’t end up being hungry with nothing to eat when you go out to dine with friends.

  • Depending on the function or outing, it might be better to eat before you leave home. That way, when the others are eating you can actually engage yourself with something else (something productive) and not be starving and envious of them.
  • Volunteer to carry a vegetarian dish to share (especially if it a sort of potluck event). That way at least you will be sure that you have at least one thing to eat.
  • When you are at a restaurant, make a full meal of the side dishes. There are lots of choices at the salad bar. In addition to the many vegetable options available, you can find peas and beans, also cheeses if you are lacto vegetarian. Don’t skimp on the fruits either. Enjoy the side dishes such sweet potato, mashed potato and pasta salads.
  • Call ahead to find out if and what vegetarian options are available at the restaurant. In that way there will be no surprises.
  • The vegetarian lifestyle has become quite popular, so many establishments are open to the idea of preparing vegetarian meals. Ask for a vegetarian option and you will be pleasantly surprised that the cook will actually go out of his way to make something special for you.

Be careful. Look out for this.

You need to take some precaution when you are eating out. Although many establishments are trying to accommodate vegetarians, the fact is that some of these people are not well versed in the art of preparing vegetarian meals. They try to help but there are some things that they don’t pay attention to. You will have to ensure that you pay attention to these seemingly small details.

For example, what is used to prepare the meal?

Did they use oyster sauce?

Does your vegetable fry rice have tiny bits of meat?

Is your kidney bean soup cooked with chicken stock?

What was used to make up your dipping sauce?

Just keep a look out for these little things and you will be fine.

Good News

fast food restaurant

Some fast food establishments have actually seen the light and now have vegetarian options on their menu. You can buy vegetarian burgers. You no longer have to eat just the bun with a pathetic looking piece of lettuce and tomato. You can now have burgers made from beans, nuts, vegetables or meat analogue.

You can have veggie sandwiches. You can have burritos made with black beans as a substitute for the meat.

A Vegetarian burrito bowl with brown rice, black beans, fajita veggies, lettuce, and corn salsa sounds good, doesn’t it?

You can order the salads minus the meat at these fast food restaurants.

Still another option

If you can’t find any of these foods nearby and you need something to fill the gap until you get home for dinner, try a smoothie. That’s another thing that is becoming quite popular nowadays. You can have a fruit smoothie or a vegetable smoothie. They are packed full of nutrients and will keep you feeling full for quite a while.

Speaking of smoothie, do you know that you can have smoothie on the go. O yes you can. There are some gadgets available…well actually, they are really just small portable blenders that work with a battery and can be charged like your phone. You put the ingredients in, toss it in your bag and off to work you go. Whenever you are in need of your smoothie, you just take it out of your bag, add water and push the button, whrr, whrr, whrr for a few seconds and voila. Hunger be gone. This might be a good thing to take on one of those workshop outings.

I hope this article allays some of your fears of eating out as a vegetarian. Now you know there are options available and you don’t have to sit quietly in a corner and starve.

Have you had interesting experiences eating out? We would love to hear about them. Share in the comments section below.

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