Today’s FAQ With a Vegan Chef video talks all about how to eat healthy when eating out. I asked my friends on Facebook what their struggles were after becoming vegan. So many people said they don’t know what to do when they go out to eat with friends or for business. It’s my experience that you can get a decent vegan meal anywhere in the world as long as you know the right questions to ask.
Surprisingly chain restaurants have more healthy options available with most having a separate menu listing allergens like wheat, dairy, and eggs. This makes it easy to find out which menu items are vegan. Chain restaurants are very consistent with their food since each restaurant across the country uses the same recipes. So if one location has vegan black beans, another location in a different state will most likely have vegan black beans (but always ask to make sure).
Since everyone is concerned about weight gain and heart health many chains now have special “Heart-Healthy” or “Low Calorie” menus or a heart icon denoting healthier choices. If you have to eat at a chain for a business lunch go straight to this section on the menu or look for the heart icon. That’s usually where you’ll find options that are veganizable and dressings without dairy.
If you call ahead and speak to the manager, you can see if they can accommodate you with a special meal. Every fine dining restaurant I have been to has jumped at the opportunity to make me something special. The chefs like to be challenged and come up with creative delicious meals using ingredients they have on hand. I was really surprised with the great meal I had at Samar and we didn’t even call ahead.
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These things can be found at restaurants: steamed veggies, a baked potato without butter, salad with veggies and plain beans, whole grain pasta, sourdough bread, avocado/guacamole, fruit, hummus with raw veggies and crackers, veggie stir-fry, french fries, vegetable sandwich, chips and salsa, veggie fajitas with corn tortillas, non-dairy soups, make your own salad.
Type of Restaurants That Always Have Vegan Options
Fast Food and Quick Dining Options
Any natural food store or Co-op
Chipotle/Freebirds/Qdoba/Taco Bell/Taco Cabana
Moe’s Southwest Grill
Starbucks (some have a vegan noodle bowl, all have soy milk)
Panera (just added some plant-based options)
Chain Restaurants With Options
Chili’s (has separate vegetarian menu with egg, dairy, and honey icons)
PF Changs (has vegan choices and brown rice)
Jason’s Deli (has notebook with ingredients listed for every menu item)
Red Robin (Facebook friend said they use original Boca Burgers but be sure to ask about the vegan bread choices)
Ruby Tuesday (has salad bar and veggie trio plate)
Flat Top Grill (mid-west chain)
Pei Wei (just check sauces for honey)
Soup Plantation/Sweet Tomatoes
Seasons 52 (great if you want to go somewhere a little nicer)
Houston’s (yes even steakhouses have good options!)
California Pizza Kitchen (they have vegan pizzas and you can get pizza with tons of veggies and no cheese)
Denny’s (supposedly has a vegan burger patty but check on the bread)
Kona Grill (has vegan menu)
Buca Di Beppo (they even have vegan wine)
Gordon Biersch (clearly marked vegan options on menu)
On The Border (portobello fajitas)
Do you know any chain restaurants that have healthy/vegan options that we should add to the list? Please share with us in the comments!