Vegan Around the World

pasta and veggiesEating at restaurants is always a fun opportunity to spend time with friends and family and try delicious food you might not normally cook at home. Just because you chose to eat a vegan diet does not mean you should avoid restaurants. There is always something to eat wherever you chose to dine, whether it is already on the menu or it is a modification of another item. Here are a few suggestions for vegan menu items to choose from various cuisines.

American: Recently, American restaurants have broadened their menus to include vegan and vegetarian options. For example, many burger joints may now offer veggie burgers. There are always salads that can be modified to avoid animal products, by asking to hold the cheese and dairy-based salad dressing. If you need more bulk on your salad, ask if the chefs can add beans or tofu. On the side, you can order a baked potato without butter, sour cream or cheese. Spice up your spud with salsa and lots of veggies.

Asian: Asian cuisine has a lot to offer in terms of vegan food. Countless Asian dishes have a base of rice, and many Asian menus in general have an entire vegetarian section. Just make sure to order a dish without milk products or eggs. Keep in mind that curries often contain coconut milk instead of cow’s milk; moreover, these dishes tend to include lots of vegetables as well. Just be wary of unhealthy fried dishes and stick with steamed foods. Another great option is to order veggie sushi, without fish or cream cheese.

Italian: Get back to basics with spaghetti and marinara sauce without cheese. Add steamed veggies to the side or on top of the pasta to enhance this classic dish. When you think of pizza, you think of cheese; but this triangle-shaped meal doesn’t have to include it. You can order a flatbread topped with lots of veggies. If you bring the pizza home, add toppings like tahini or salsa.

Mexican: Mexican restaurants are generally very vegan-friendly. Order a burrito without cheese and sour cream. Include toppings like lettuce, beans, rice, salsa, avocado, or onion. Order fajitas without the meat or ask if tofu is an option. Chips and salsa are vegan as well, and try some fresh guacamole for a creamy vegan treat.

Sandwich shops: Sandwiches are very easy to customize and can easily be made with only vegetables and plant-based spreads. If the restaurant has the option of tofu or tempeh, go for those for more protein. In terms of bread options, most are typically vegan, but try to go for healthier whole-wheat or multi-grain breads instead of white bread. Sandwich spreads are limitless from mustard to guacamole to hummus.

Next time you are invited to a dinner out, do not worry about finding a vegan option. Look at it as an adventure and get creative if the menu does not contain vegan options. Talk with your server to see what the chef can do for you – you would be surprised how accommodating restaurants can be nowadays. Be confident and try one of these cuisines from around the world!

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