As a vegan, you may have experienced some challenges when you’re dining out in your hometown. This can become more pronounced when you’re traveling away from your home base, with strange new foods and restaurants.
Not to worry.
We have a technique that has proven time and again to really knock our socks off, although it does involve you being willing to take a risk and go on a little culinary adventure.
If you’re open doing things a little differently, here is the three-step method that could result in a very memorable meal:
- Review the menu. Find some side dishes that are either vegan or easily vegan-ized. For example, a side dish of vegetables sautéed in butter could easily be sautéed in olive oil.
- Talk honestly with the waitstaff… tell them you’d like a vegan plate, and point out the 2 or 3 items you’ve identified as possible candidates that look good to you. At this point you’ve introduced what your dining goal is, and have proactively offered some options that look suitable. Make sure you have the translation for “vegan” in the native language if you’re visiting a foreign country.
- Now you’re ready to make the request. This is a good way to phrase it: “I’m happy to pay the full dinner (or lunch) price for any plate the chef would like to assemble for me that is vegan. Tell the chef I trust their judgment and look forward to what they create.”
Now take a deep breath. You have relinquished control. The odds are in your favor, and the result is usually one of three options:
- Option One: Sorry, nice try. The chef may be too busy for special requests or limited by pre-made dishes or ingredients. This is unlikely as they will usually try to accommodate all patrons, but in this case what will probably happen is you will be notified that they are either unable or unwilling to make substitutions to veganize your meal.
- Option Two: About what you’d expect. They will make the substitutions you suggested to your waitstaff and you will get a combination of veganized side dishes that make a totally passable and often really delicious meal.
- Option Three: This last option is the one you’re hoping for: an off-menu meal that completely knocks your socks off. This is what we have consistently discovered: at any decent restaurant – and most especially at nicer restaurants – chefs really do take pride in their work. Cooking is a creative act, and putting something together that is outside their usual selection of dishes could both brighten their workday and delight your senses.
What do you think? While you will have to roll the dice, chances are that the chef will do everything they can to accommodate you and — if you’re lucky — relish the chance to create an inspiring and delicious meal just for you!