Vegetarian Choices in Restaurants

thisnthat

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Do you find that restaurants offer plenty of good options to choose from for vegetarians? It seems that the more people try to eat healthier diets, the more accommodating restaurants try to become. Even some of the fast food joints get in on the action with salads and fruit slices and such.

While it may not even be specifically targeted toward vegetarians or vegans, there do seem to be more choices in general for people with special diets.

Do you ask for substitutions? Do find that you have enough choices?
 

digitalsatori

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I've noticed vegetarian menus have improved drastically over the last 5 years. Almost every major chain has a veggie burger, even Burger King (if you like mircowaved MorningStar patties). If they don't have that, usually they have something the chef can alter. My wife is a huge fan of Red Lobster and after we became regulars, they know my dish and will even go the extra mile to ensure that its cooked separately.

I've found if you're kind to the wait staff about it, ask for their suggestions, and be willing to be flexible and risk having nothing but a salad, I'm almost always impressed with what a restaurant is willing to cater to.
 
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lion

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I've found most restaurants seem to have at least one vegetarian option. This has definitely improved since I first became vegetarian - I used to have a lot of trouble just randomly choosing a restaurant and finding that they had no options, so I'd only go to ones I knew already had options.

I'd feel embarrassed asking for substitutions, as I feel like I'd be making them go to extra effort, so I don't typically ask unless there are no other vegetarian options.
 

Alexia

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It depends what country you are in. In the UK you will always find most places will have a couple of choices and many will accommodate you. In the Middle East and Asia it can be a bit more difficult for vegans, but there are usually dishes that can be adapted and you can then find out what has been cooked fresh.

In certain parts of the US, especially the cities there are always vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free choices, but in rural areas less so. Once I was in a small town and they had one garden burger left so my vegan friend and I had to split it as there was nothing else to eat and they made it up by giving us an extra portion of onion rings.

I find most places don't mind genuine substitutions. I don't mind asking as often the price of a vegetarian meal is the same as a meat or fish one, so the profit is still huge on my dish.
 

thisnthat

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I've found most restaurants seem to have at least one vegetarian option. This has definitely improved since I first became vegetarian - I used to have a lot of trouble just randomly choosing a restaurant and finding that they had no options, so I'd only go to ones I knew already had options.

I'd feel embarrassed asking for substitutions, as I feel like I'd be making them go to extra effort, so I don't typically ask unless there are no other vegetarian options.

I don't mind asking for substitutions (for any reason) as long as it's a reasonable request. I wouldn't ask for something pricey in place of a cheap side dish or anything. As long as they still make money, they generally don't mind simple substitutions. As long as it's within reason, there's no need to feel bad about asking. You're a paying customer. They want you to be happy. :)
 

Cazala26

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I've found most restaurants seem to have at least one vegetarian option. This has definitely improved since I first became vegetarian - I used to have a lot of trouble just randomly choosing a restaurant and finding that they had no options, so I'd only go to ones I knew already had options.

I'd feel embarrassed asking for substitutions, as I feel like I'd be making them go to extra effort, so I don't typically ask unless there are no other vegetarian options.

At the end of the day restaurants need business so if they have it in the kitchen there should be no reason that they wouldn't try to please you. However nowadays diets and allergies are becoming more acknowledged than they were a while ago. Very few people knew what a caeliac was a year or so ago let alone catered to them. Now on most menus there are signs to show that the plate is vegan/vegetarian, contains soy, is caeliac friendly etc. No restaurant will have 0 options for vegetarians, there should always be something and if not it never hurts to ask before you sit down.
 

Connie

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If your meal is a planned meal rather than a spur of the moment thing, why don't you ring ahead (especially if you are booking a table) and ask to talk with the chef about what is available.

My brother worked until very recently in a pub restaurant as a chef and they have been more than happy to make me a meal if they know I am coming. He used this approach with plenty of other customers as well, once a change had been made to the menu to indicate special diets could be catered for if notice was given. Many more people now ring in advance and notify them which is great.
I have used the same approach with other restaurants. When I book the table I notify them my 'needs' (in my case I am severely allergic to all dairy and components). I will be often be asked to look at the menu and see what there is that can be modified to meet my needs and talking with them about how to do this and what needs changing, so oil instead of butter etc.. they are more than happy to accommodate me. Sometimes the chef will contact me the day before.

They don't mind the changes, they just need notice and that is something people sometimes don't give them and how they run into problems as a result.
 

Sally

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Looking at the menu for our works Christmas Dinner, the only option for vegans is chips. They have even put a little vegan sign next to them. They have a few more veggie options.