How do you ask for vegan meals in restaurants?

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How do you ask for vegan meals in restaurants?

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1Editrixie
Sep 12, 2008, 11:59pm

When I was 15 I became a lacto-ovo vegetarian, and about nine months ago I became a vegan. I'm finding it surprisingly hard to get my dietary preferences across to waitstaff. How do you do it without launching into a lengthy explanation? I just fumble around trying to define veganism, and I feel silly.

2NoLongerAtEase
Sep 14, 2008, 2:59am

I try to avoid quick discussions/explanations of veganism with unsympathetic or uninformed audiences. You want to avoid the incredulous stare!

For that reason I typically use "can't" language rather than "won't language" when I'm in a hostile dining situation. For example: "Would you be able to prepare dish X without the cheese, because I cannot have dairy". No further explanation is really required, plus they're likely to assume that you've either a medical or religious reason behind your request and each reason is likely to be taken seriously.

Of course I rarely have this problem for two reasons:

1. I live in a major city. Thus, most of the restaurants I frequent are veg. places or heavily oriented in that direction (to the point where they indicate what's vegan on the menu).

2. I'm not a very strict vegan. If I end up at, say, a Thai place where English is not well understood and find myself with egg in my dish (even though I asked them to withhold it) I'll just eat around it.

Final thought: At more upscale places you're likely to find a chef and waitstaff that are more familiar with veganism than at, say, nice but not exactly upscale places. While I know this isn't true across the board, the really upscale places are likely to have chefs or waitstaff with whom you can actually discuss your diet (if you call ahead) and sometimes you can get a specially crafted meal that isn't just some squash thrown on the grill. Some of these folks will view cooking for you as an interesting challenge.

3wonderlake
Oct 13, 2008, 8:25am

Yeah, pretend it's because your allergic to dairy/shellfish etc rather than you choose not to eat dairy ;)

Or act like a celebrity- because they're always doing 'crazy' diets... (keep sunglasses on)

I got this for my Vegan-OH, a Vegan Passport which says what "vegans do and don't eat in great detail" in a number of different languages; but it's more of a novelty item, he has never waved it in a waiter's face when ordering food on holiday, LOL

http://www.vegetarianguides.co.uk/products/veganpassport.shtml

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