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Vegetarians – Does Eating Out Have to Be a Challenge?

One of the biggest challenges vegetarians face is dining with friends. They sometimes feel guilty about steering the group away from places that would be a better fit for their meat eating friends, but does it need to be a major issue?

Most modern restaurants have vegetarian options and will even customize a dish to your diet upon request. The exceptions would be places where a customer has simply never requested a vegetarian option, such as rural diners in the Midwest or barbecue joints.   Even places you wouldn’t consider vegetarian friendly will serve salads and sides that are meat free. These options may not be ideal but they’re likely adequate. Who wants to settle for adequate, though?

What about meat eaters who have vegetarian friends? It’s more probablewe’re the ones making plans. Many meat-eaters have never considered vegetarian foods until they are exposed to a friend or acquaintance who expresses a desire to avoid meats. How do we ensure we find a place that includes our vegetarian friends? In this case, the Internet is your best asset.

Most restaurants publish their menu online, but certain restaurant types are a safe bet even without looking. For instance, a place that serves gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches will almost always have a selection of meat-free options. Pizza is another safe bet, as making meat free pizza is simple. Pasta is another safe choice, because many pasta dishes are not only vegetarian, but vegan friendly. Basil pesto pasta, anyone?

Nothing is simpler than a sandwich shop. Almost every sandwich shop in the US has vegetarian sandwiches. Even if the shop doesn’t offer vegetarian options, a request to ‘hold the meat’ on an otherwise perfect sandwich will usually work. A specialty sandwich shop without a selection of vegetarian options is almost unheard of these days.

Breakfast is always a good choice, and many restaurants will serve breakfast foods all day. Even for a meat-eater, breakfast for lunch can be a fun change of pace – Belgian waffles are not just for Sunday brunch anymore. Given the number of vegetarian items on the normal breakfast menu, finding something delicious should be simple.

Most people who look at a tremendous array of options on a menu don’t consider the limited options that may be available for vegetarians. As long as we are aware of the needs and wants of every member of our group, we can make more informed choices. The most important thing to remember is that a mindful choice and a little creativity will go a long way.