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How to Eat out as a Beginner Vegetarian

Updated on December 30, 2018
Teddy O Malley profile image

I've been a vegetarian for sixteen years. I have learned a lot of tricks over the years that I would like to share with new vegetarians.

I’ve been a vegetarian for sixteen years, so I’ve had a lot of experience with ordering as a vegetarian. However, I have heard multiple vegetarians use the phrase “living off fries” when I’ve met them in my town. You don’t have to live off fries, and you shouldn’t because it’s not healthy. What you need to do as a vegetarian is learn to navigate the menu and get creative with ordering custom meals.

French Fries
French Fries | Source

"I have heard multiple vegetarians use the phrase 'living off fries' when I’ve met them in my town. "

First Tip

My first tip is simple. Ask for any item without the meat. This can be done with almost any salad as well as a lot of other items. It’s incredibly easy to do this at a place like Wendy’s. Note that they are not removing the meat. The meat is added. They are simply making it without the meat.

Examples

Wendy’s Apple Pecan Chicken Salad (Ask for the salad without chicken)

Wendy’s Chicken Go Wrap (Ask for this item without chicken)

Add: tomato and onion

Optional: Ask for extra veggies

"Consider an often-overlooked item: the grilled cheese sandwich. "

Second Tip

Add-ons are a wonderful way to have a full meal instead of living off the appetizer. Consider an often-overlooked item: the grilled cheese sandwich. Now, I know what you might be thinking. “I’m almost as sick of grilled cheese sandwiches as I am of fries.” But consider the grilled cheese deluxe.

You can order this item at Sonic as well as most places that serve grilled cheese.

Example

Sonic’s Grilled Cheese

Add: lettuce, onion, tomato, and mayo

Get tater tots on the side instead of French fries. It’s still potato, but at least it’s a change.

Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Grilled Cheese Sandwich | Source

Third Tip

Consider restaurants with vegetarian menus or ones that don’t have a heavy focus on meat. Many ethnic restaurants are better suited for vegetarian life since non-American countries don’t put as much focus on meat. Mexican restaurants often have a section of the menu dedicated to vegetarian meals and Chinese restaurants have portions of their menus with vegetable dishes. However, you may need to ask about broth in Chinese restaurants.

Examples

Las Margaritas Vegetarian Menu (Option C): one bean burrito, one cheese enchilada, one bean tostada and nacho cheese.

Vegetable Fried Rice with a side of spring rolls or honey cheese. Served at almost any Chinese restaurant. (Note: Panda Express has a disclaimer on their site stating that none of their dishes are vegetarian, so skip them and hit that little struggling place on the corner instead.)

Spaghetti Pasta Noodles
Spaghetti Pasta Noodles | Source

Fourth Tip

Many restaurants and fast food places now have alternative options to fries, so this is something to consider as well. Be willing to ask your server about alternatives if you are dining in and browse the menu for them if you are at a fast food place.

Examples

Mozzarella Sticks

Cheesy tots

Onion rings

Fifth Tip

Some fast food places are more than willing to let you custom order. Taco Bell, for example, not only allows custom orders, but you can sub beans for beef on any item on the menu for free. If you’re vegan, then you’re in luck, because if you order your meal “Al Fresco”, then they will replace any cheese with Pico de Gallo.

Examples

(My personal favorite): Frito Burrito, sub black beans in place of beef, add creamy jalapeño sauce.

Mexican pizza, sub beans in place of beef, make it Al Fresco

Final Tip

My final tip is to be creative. Don't be afraid to ask places if they are willing to work with you on customizing orders. Ask if a vegetarian menu is available. And finally, don't be afraid to try new vegetarian things that you may not have tried before.

© 2018 Teddy O'Malley

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