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Restaurant phobia.....

Everytime a friend or family member asks me to go to a restaurant with them, I don't want to go. I know that theres not going to be much that I can eat in a restaurant and I would much rather make my own food at home. The problem is that before I became a vegetarian ( I lean more towards being a vegan now, as I can't have dairy and very rarly have eggs) I use to eat out with friends and family almost every day. I think they want the old me back, but I do't want to ever go back to  my old way of eating ( just the thought of it makes me sick). I also don't want to lose the people that are in my life, but I know they are all getting frustrated with me. Any advice? What do you guys do in situations like this?

Many restaurants will make something vegetarian (or hopefully vegan) if you ask them. I know olive garden has capanalini pomedoro which is vegan, even simple places like arbys make vegetarian sandwiches if you ask them (and lots of times you get nice people that don't charge you a ton for a baconless BLT!) Just ask around, look online, VeganEatingOut.com has lists of restaurants with vegetarian/vegan selections also!  ;)b

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It is hard to go someplace and try to find something that will please your belly and be vegan.  All of us have eaten the iceberg salad with oil and vinegar because that was the only option.  BUT!  It will not always be the case.  Look for ethnic restaurants like Indian or Mexican or Thai or Japanese. 

If you cannot go to a place that might have something vegetarian on the menu then look at the sides offered.  Can you pair up a pasta and steamed broccoli?  What about subbing a portabello mushroom for a burger?  Baked potatoes and veggies can get you through the meal with a bit of help from some Italian dressing or balsamic vinegar. 

Ask clear and concise questions "Does this dish (pointing at the menu) have dairy?" of the servers.  If they don't understand you ask for someone that might.  Ask to talk to the chef.  Be friendly.  Smile.  Look hopeful and cheerful.  No one wants to help the angry person, but they will bend over backwards for the puppy dog eyes!

This doesnt mean you should go out every night.  Invite those friends to your house for dinner!  If they must have meat, have potlucks at their house where you bring a huge fabulous meal, to share if you are feeling generous.  Pick the places you go to with care, check them out online, call ahead, have a plan and then go and enjoy yourself.

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That's why I started my site - I was having the same inhibitions. It lists vegan menu options at a lot of popular places. If you're unsure of anything I try to include any e-mail correspondence I've had with the companies and where you can find hte information on their websites. I hope it is of good use to you!

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I just do the best I can, I will get a veggie burger (probably has cheese) french fries (might be fried in same oil as meat).  Then, drink coffee afterwards, it calms your stomache and acts as a laxative, gets it all out before it makes you too sick.  That seems to work for me in those situations.  But, if you are very very strict, that kind of thinking probably would not work.  Last week, I went to a mexican restaurant and ordered an avocado taco, many taquerillas serve avocado tacos with lettuce, tomato and lime.  YUM!  but this one came out as one tortilla with guacamole on it.  HA!  awful.  But at least I was there with my family having fun and showing them that being vegan doesnt mean you cant do everything you used to do.

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Many restaurants will make something vegetarian (or hopefully vegan) if you ask them. I know olive garden has capanalini pomedoro which is vegan, even simple places like arbys make vegetarian sandwiches if you ask them (and lots of times you get nice people that don't charge you a ton for a baconless BLT!) Just ask around, look online, VeganEatingOut.com has lists of restaurants with vegetarian/vegan selections also!  ;)b

just wanted to warn you about the questionability of any vegan items at olive garden.. theres been whole threads about it and lots of the info from og isnt too promising.  eggs in the pasta, broth in the marinara, eggs in the salad dressing, etc.  just an fyi!

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Oh geeze, thanks! I havent been there in a while. Next time i go i'll be sure to talk to someone there and question it and ask for a real vegan item to be served/put on the menu!

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Oh geeze, thanks! I havent been there in a while. Next time i go i'll be sure to talk to someone there and question it and ask for a real vegan item to be served/put on the menu!

no problem! 

don't stress about it too much though chickpea - i personally would much rather make a meal at home instead of eating a salad at a restaurant but sometimes being social necessitates it.  even at a bbq restaurant in the south i got a decent salad of baby spinach, cranberries and slivered almonds (after i had them leave off the cheesy croutons, the bacon pieces and cheese, of course..)

another idea is to invite your friends over and host a dinner party, that can be really fun - just have them all bring a bottle of wine!

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I feel the same way chickpea37. My boyfriend sometimes just wants to go out to a restaurant and in my head I'm like, "Oh boy..." I never know what's really vegan on the manu and the choices are really limited. I guess you do what you have to do. Sometimes you just have to make sacrifices sometimes, even though you'd rather have your delicious truly vegan food at home. My bf understands but I feel bad sometimes because I don't want to be a party pooper. But relationships take work, so I say go out and take the advice form the other vegwebbers, especially that wine idea from propinecone!

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I always worry about eating out too!  Especially because I've been lied to in the past  :(  I have a few restaurants that I know have vegan options and I'm always willing to go to those places!  I just do my research and try to call ahead if its a new venue...

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I'm starting to see that a lot of us have this problem. Atleast I know that I'm not alone. :)

If you care about what is in your food, and what you are eating (as we veg*ns should), it's going to be a "problem." You are definitely not alone. We don't really eat out..but if we do, I get something that I'm 99.9% sure about.

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I'm starting to see that a lot of us have this problem. Atleast I know that I'm not alone. :)

If you care about what is in your food, and what you are eating (as we veg*ns should), it's going to be a "problem." You are definitely not alone. We don't really eat out..but if we do, I get something that I'm 99.9% sure about.

I totally agree with this.  I have found the best thing to do when eating out at restaurants to make others happier and to feed yourself a little is to just stick to the 99.9% sure foods.  These are mostly raw salads and veggies and fruits, which you can easily ask for no cheese/croutons/dressings/etc on these.  This makes my boyfriend and family happy.  Really though, I don't like to eat out at all, but it does seem to make the people in our lives who are not vegan feel better when we actually eat something when out with them. 

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Going to a Japanese steakhouse tonight. "Christmas" dinner before my mother leaves. I looked at the menu, and i think its unlikely i get to eat, I'm gonna get some sushi though i think. Its one of those places with the cooking at your table, but i still have little trust because (stereotype alert, though its been true to me at every place around here) People at most Japanese restaurants have no clue what vegan is and think broth and fish and lots of things are okay and bring them to you no matter how many times you say no. Ugh.

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It's comforting to know I'm not the only person who'd rather eat in... Good stuff!  ;)b

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I just wanted to chime in regarding Olive Garden. I have an e-mail from them stating the following:

Quote:
Olive Garden suggests the following items as vegan, meaning they contain no animal-derived ingredients including meat, dairy, eggs, or honey:

Minestrone Soup
Garden Salad with oil and vinegar (instead of our house dressing) and no croutons
Tomato Sauce
Capellini Pomodoro
Steamed Veggies without seasoned butter

You can find it on my site here: Olive Garden Vegan Email. I'm going to e-mail them again to clarify and if this e-mail is true ask that they have the website changed to reflect it.

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i always thought the Capellini Pomodoro was vegan...

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I only feel 'safe' eating at vegetarian or vegan restaurants.  I've come to the realization that a lot of people working in 'regular' restaurants are just plain ignorant about food.  They forget things like bacon comes from pigs and that butter is made from millk from cows.  I've met some chefs that think using chicken broth is ok in vegetarian cooking because it doesn't have any actual 'meat' in it.  It can get downright frustrating eating out.  So I stick to 'as close as I can' when eating out with friends.  Mainly that means the salad without cheese or eggs and a plain baked potato but at least I am out with friends.

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Ugh. Broth makes me so mad, it has to be one of the top things that people thing is ok for vegetarians/vegans. Ugh. And bullion. I wish more people really knew what vegan is, one day mabye..

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I've been told several times that the pasta at O.G contains eggs, so I don't recommend that.

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Ugh. Dinner was horrible, it was like the cook was torchering me. He knew i was vegetarian, so he put the meat right by me on the grill, and whenever he cut anything up he'd say something like "i hate you cow, stupid cow, die" or something completely retarded. The lobster reminded me of my hermit crabs, and i love lobsters (alive), and he takes the shell off and sticks it in my face! I couldn't believe this man. I did get some nice sushi and edamame though. And this woman that shared our "grill table" commended me for doing what i do and just couldnt stop about how cool she thought it was and proud she was. So besides the cook, it was decent.
Stupid restaurants. >:(

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ouch...Sarah sorry to hear you had such a jerk for a cook.  If there is anything to karma....wellllll

My mama use to tell me that when I met that kind of person I should just think to myself "Poor person they just don't know any better."  However, I feel that a lot of time they know better and are just a##hole#

At least you got some positive things to hold onto...like that nice lady. 

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