When you’re new to veganism, it can definitely be challenging to know what to ask at non-vegan restaurants in order to guarantee your meal will be 100% without animal products! As both a vegan and a foodie fanatic, here are some tips I’ve picked up to be certain your meal is cruelty-free, no matter what cuisine you are in the mood for!
- American food: Most American food is pretty blatant with their use of animal products, mac and cheese and burgers tend to lay them on thick! The trickiest thing to watch out for is lard, or animal fat, commonly used for frying. Soups can also contain animal broths instead of vegetable broths (even vegetable soups!) so double check about that, too! Common salad dressings are almost always not going be vegan, but oil, lemon, salt and pepper can kick your veggies up a bit!
- Thai/Vietnamese food/Korean food: Fish sauce and fish oil are ingredients that are hard to pick up, so make sure you ask for none of that fishy stuff in your food! If you get a Thai curry with coconut milk, ask if they use any other type of milk in the curry as well, such as half n half. Noodles may also contain egg!
- Mexican food: Make sure you ask for no sour cream and no cheese! Besides that, lard can sometimes be found in tortillas, and some dairy might be slipped into sauces or guac! Vegan guac, avocado or extra beans can sometimes be subbed for cheese or sour cream to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth!
- Italian food: There tends to be cheese, and lots of it! Ask for your meal without cheese, and check about the use of eggs in the noodles. Dairy such as Parmesan or butter might also be hidden in the marinara or pesto sauce! At pizza places, ask if cheese or butter is used in the sauce or on the crust! Some pizza places have vegan cheese, but not enough! Good thing pizza tastes heavenly without it, too!
- Chinese/Japanese food: Ask if your soup broths are meat, fish or egg based. Surprising dishes on the menu also may contain egg. Meals such as fried rice might also be cooked in butter!
- Indian food: Many Indian meals are made with Ghee, or clarified butter, and you would never guess until you ask! Ghee can be found in a variety of dishes, from rice, to appetizers, to curries. Yogurt is also commonly found in Indian cuisine, so ask about it’s use in condiments!
- Mediterranean: Tzatziki will probably be the sneakiest ingredient in Mediterranean food. If you’re looking for a creamy replacement, Baba Ganoush is a personal favorite!
- For any places you go to and after double and triple checking, you still are unsure if the word “vegan” is getting across: Dairy allergies and egg allergies will go a long way to guarantee there are no animal products in your food! Only use for emergency cases, though! 😉
Now go out and get your grub on! 🙂
Signing off for the Sentient,