Fed your vegan Indian? Good noms. Time to explore other yummy countries.
EVERYTHING ELSE IN ASIA
Don’t assume that other Asian food places will be as vegan or vego friendly. Asian restaurants are as diverse as the huge continent from which they come, so if you’re booking for a party that has a vegan, ask if meals can be made without egg or fish sauce in the least. Your vego friend can figure it out from there. I have to admit, I HATE asking questions about food at restaurants- I want to be a diner, not labelled as “the vego table”. I have happily eaten Chinese, Thai, Korean, Malaysian, Indonesian, Japanese and a whole lot of other cuisines asking minimal questions and knowing the potential pit falls. As a host, you don’t have to know everything that could stop your vegan friend eating, but it helps to know a few.
In Asian cuisine, the most common unveganising factors are:
-egg (many menus don’t mention it in a dish. I just always say “no egg” when ordering, even if it shouldn’t have it).
-fish sauce (laksa and east Asian curries)
-tofu made with egg
-ham in fried rice (obvious but it happens)
-mayo in avocado/vege sushi
-fish and shrimp paste in miso
Don’t worry, your vegan friend can handle themselves, but knowing to ask one or two questions on the phone about removing one or two ingredients from otherwise nommy dishes is super considerate and will make your vegan love you.
-Ethiopian can be vegan friendly (and very trendy and exotic right now in Brisbane. Try out places on Beaudesert Road in Moorooka).
-Many burger places bind patties with egg, so check if there’s a mushroom burger option
-Pacific Islands eat a lot of seafood and pork, but baked taro in coconut, salads and *sigh* chips will still get you where you need to go.
-Try Buddhist restaurants- you can get amazing mock meats and fresh veggies. A non-Buddhist restaurant chain that is all vegan is The Loving Hut. They’re even in Paris. But they’re also in Mount Gravatt (slightly less exotic).
-Do the call ahead, like, a week. I’ve had beautiful vegetables (admittedly, that’s all they were, but they were great) made up for me at the Lyrebird restaurant at Queensland Performing Arts Centre because my mum called ahead (thanks Mum). Just make sure sides of vegetables are not cooked in butter, or can be flavoured with an alternative.
LESS FRIENDLY CUISINES
-You know, you can totally get vegan friendly Italian, but not normally (in my experience) at the best Italian restaurants. Good fresh pasta has egg. Unless that restaurant is super duper awesome and committed to making a vegan dough, you might be better off going somewhere a little down market where the pasta is dried or packet. Sorry. That, or hope your vegan gets to love cheeseless bruschetta.
-Greek. GREEK! Although I KNOW there are awesome vegan Greek things out there, in restaurants the options are usually vego-only. Because of feta. You magnificent bastard. You could ask for a Greek salad without feta, but it’s probably pre made and will result in fury or picked out cheese- neither so good. Common vego options are: Greek salad (feta), dolmades (cheese sometimes!), spanakopita (cheese), haloumi cheese or vege moussaka (cheese). You can see the trend. Unless you can get cheeseless dolmades, and some gigantes (big baked beans things in a tomato sauce), it’s actually quite a hard cuisine from which to order off the menu. Be nice to your vegan and maybe avoid altogether, or try Turkish (there’s some cuisine overlap but generally less cheese).
-German or Bavarian. Be kind. Don’t book. We don’t want to watch you shovel thousands of calories of spatzel into your mouth while we drink schnapps. There is usually nothing at all on the menu, unless it’s green salad or chips or you’ve called ahead and discovered your chef is from Berlin and therefore kinda cool with vegans. Oh well, at least your vegan will get drunk cheaply.
And you know what? Chances are, that you’re already a pretty neat friend/relative if you’re reading this to help you understand eating out with your vegan, but when in doubt, ask. I’m sure you’re vegan would rather chat about it than eat chips.
QUESTION: Do you have any tips you can share on eating out with vegos, vegans or other people with dietary needs?
PS- The 14th is my birthday. Happy birthday to me 🙂