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Going Vegan

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I've been a vegetarian for almost 8 years. I'm considering going vegan. Or, at least, I'm considering going vegan when I eat out. This is mostly because of some books and articles I've read--Peter Singer's "Animal Liberation," Rachel's "The Basic Argument for Vegetarianism," Pollan's "The Omnivore's Dilemma," etc. I'm starting to be persuaded by the argument that the best way to take a stand against factory farmed meat and dairy products is to refuse to purchase it in any form. This means going mostly vegan when I go out (unless I'm at one of the few restaurants who are very transparent about where their meat and dairy products come from, in which case, I'll indulge in the dairy products, but not the meat product for personal reasons).  At home I can eat dairy because I can make sure that the dairy I eat is from a local farm where the animals have seen the sun and pranced around in grass and have not been fed antibiotics and have lived a good happy healthy farm life. I am only interested in taking in dairy products that are produced from happy animals!

Any advice from people who have gone (eating out) vegan? Is it hard? How do you deal with the social awkwardness when you know it will be difficult to order (I'm used to relying on there always being a cheese dish). Is it really so difficult to find vegan dishes? Any advice/stories will be helpful.



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First of all I'd like to say grats on thinking about going vegan. 

2nd of all :( I will tell you that at least in my case it sucks being vegan when you go out. Unless you are in a more progressive restaurant, you are limited to salad, and even then you need to make sure it doesn't have any hard boiled egg or bacon bits. That being said, there is no way I would ever have the cobb salad with egg and bacon over the plain (plane?) jane salad. You will have to make sure the waiter has made the proper substitutions for whatever you have ordered.

YOU WILL GET CRITICISM. I yell this because it has been very true in my case. I get a comment almost every day at work. You can not let this get to you. In most cases the criticism comes from insecurity. They know it is not hard to refrain from eating foods that are from dead or exploited and abused animals but they are so set in their ways that they feel it's too hard to change. 

The annoyance of going out to eat and having to be constantly aware is nothing compared to how much better I feel since going vegan. Be a leader and help promote veganism. 

I am also vegetarian and would like go vegan.  It has been a very slow process for me.  So far, I have been able to substitue almond milk for cow's milk.  And I love Daiya vegan cheese.  The rest is hit and miss.  I figure when I eat out, I will assume that I might be confined to a couple of things on the menu.  But I adjusted my thinking so that I go for the enjoyment of the experience and company as opposed to only being there for the culinary experience.  Regardless of where you eat, always request vegan selections from the waiter.  The more people request it, the more it will offered.

Oddly enough, I live in Las Vegas and find that eating vegetarian or vegan is quite easy.  Steve Wynn, the local mega-mogol, is vegan and requires that all restaurants on his properties have a vegan menu available.  So it is coming about, but slowly for sure.

By the way, Wynn is not a vegan for compassion reasons.  He does it for health reasons and has lost 20 pounds and no longer has the severe back pain that he attributes to the consumption of animal products.

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I have practiced a vegan diet.  It lasted for about 2 or 3 years.  I never felt better in my life!  It ended because it was incredibly invconvenient trying to avoid dairy products and animal protien while working away from home.  Now  I find myself working back toward that vegan lifestyle out of the desire for personal well being and professional longevity.  I am carrying around more weight than I would like to.

If someone is considering it as a choice I would recommend disregarding the social/moral judgement perspective.  There are other reasons more important to consider.  Many of them end up being personal religious or spiritual considerations that really should hold up regardless of the views of others.  That being said, breaking the vegan diet because someone slips you something with whey protien or meat should open an awareness for compassion for others instead of an anxeity fit about what we put in our bodies.

There are skeptics and those who will tell you " I like meat".  So what...

Mostly back to vegetarian, but man I like expensive cheese.  Cow, goat, sheep. It makes my mouth water when I pull it out of the frig.  but I might as well put it in my pocket and carry it around. 

Uhgg!  life struggles...Mid Atlantic Mountains, where obesity reigns and heart disease is #1. 

It really depends on where you live.  I have lived and been to places where it was pretty easy to order vegan items off the menu, but unfortunately where I currently live, it is basically impossible.  Here, the "vegetarian" option is usually seafood, something cooked in chicken broth, some type of bread coated in copious amounts of cheese, or a crappy iceberg lettuce salad.  (Yes, I realize half those things are not actually vegetarian!)

I am absolutely the only vegetarian I know and I have yet to run into anyone here who even knows what the word vegan means.... most people seem to think vegetarian means I eat everything except beef, and vegan means I don't eat beef, chicken, or pork, but still eat seafood, cheese and eggs.  (I've even had people pronounce it vee-jun, LOL!) As a result, we almost never go out to eat.  Everything we eat at home is vegan, except for eggs, which come from truly free range chickens, fed an organic diet, who I see often.  If I can't get those eggs, we go without.  I often use flax seed or Ener-G as an egg substitute in baking, but we do enjoy fried eggs and omelets every now and then.

Lately, an even bigger issue than getting vegan food, for me, is getting organic.  There are only 2 restaurants in our area that have any organic food on their menu, and one of them has no vegetarian options.  Eating organic is so important, but since it isn't readily available, that is another reason I don't eat out often.

Hopefully you live in a more progressive area than I do.  :)

restaurant eating is tough as a vegetarian, and it is even more difficult as a vegan.

that said, if your values outweigh your desire to not rock the boat, then it can be done.

make sure you're at a restaurant that does actually make meals to order, ask questions about ingredients (is the soup cream-based? do the breadsticks have butter on them?), and get used to saying "NO cheese... NO butter... NO mayonnaise" etc.  And also get used to examining your food before you eat it, and be prepared to send it back if need-be.

I've also found that, although it's a bit of a lie, if you tell the server it's because of a food allergy, they're much more diligent about making sure your order is done right.

the more i have migrated towards a vegan diet, the more difficult and just annoying restaurant eating has become.  i actually think that's fine, because the best (and cheapest) food you can eat is the food you prepare.

BUT since we're on the vegan issue...  depending on how "hard core" you want to be about it, you should look into whether or not your next glass of wine is "vegan" too.  I was a little dismayed to realize a while ago that filtering processes frequently use animal products :(

I've been about 98% vegan for a couple of years now. It can be hard, especially here in carni-land (ND - farm country), but there are restaurants with vegan dishes. I find the Asian ( I love mongolian grills for this reason), East Indian, and to a lesser extent some Greek/Middle Eastern restaurants are most likely to have the best vegan dishes. We did have a Vegan cafe in town, but they didn't last very long.

If I can I will check the menu online or sometimes ask at the restaurant. I've been lucky that I havent' had much flak for my choices (except from my 17 year old son).

I also don't eat out that often and bring my own lunch to work. Most people don't say anything, but that's probably because of the industry I work in (supplements) 

My husband and I went vegan a few months ago and I think as long as you research it and are prepared, it can be pretty easy.  And there seems to be quite the plant-based diet movement going on so a lot of places have vegan options or can make things vegan.

My husband is eating a mostly vegan diet, but he ended up losing too much weight because he's the type who will skip meals a lot, especially if it's not convenient to make anything.  I am more the type who is excited to try new foods so while I lost a lot of fat since going vegan, my weight hasn't changed much.

My favorite purchase since going vegan is a bread machine.  I make pizza dough in it and have perfected my vegan pizza recipe.  So we can still eat kind of "bad" but it's really not very bad.  Plus, I am totally full with 2 pieces of vegan pizza versus several more pieces of regular pizza since my vegan pizza is so nutrient dense.

We really cut way back on eating out, partially to save money, but also because it is somewhat difficult to find things to eat.  I was thoroughly excited to find out our favorite Chinese restaurant has about 10 different tofu dishes and most places will accept requests to cook without butter or cheese.

Another thing to do is go online to restaurant websites to get information on their menu.  I like Chipotle Grill and they have a section for vegans/vegetarians and explain which foods are vegan.  I was surprised they put bacon in their pinto beans and noticed after becoming vegan that they tell you that when dishing up your meal so if you don't want bacon, you can opt for black beans instead.

There are a lot of vegan substitutes as well, such a Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream and other stuff like that.  It's not quite the same, but does the job and is nice to have as an option.

I started a blog when I went vegan to track my progress and share recipes and whatnot.  If you'd like to check it out, it is at:

Veghed mentioned a decrease in back pain and I must say since going vegan, I have noticed that I do not have anywhere near the pain I used to have.  I used to go to a chiropractor every 2-3 weeks to "fix" me, but the only pain I feel now is sore muscles from working out.  I have also noticed fat disappearing from my body.  My legs are always the last place I lose weight (at least it seems) and I have noticed that fat is disappearing as well as cellulite.

I feel incredible being vegan and it's not easy, but it gets easier as you go.  Good luck to you!

Thanks for all the responses! It's been great so far. The only thing is that I'm finding myself SUPER hungry lately. I am a runner and avid yogi, and I think I didn't realize how much cheese and dairy was filling me up. I'm eating basically the same amount of food, only minus the cheese and dairy (I hardly ever ate eggs so nothing is really missing from taking them out). But I guess the cheese and dairy was really filling me up, so I'm having to eat an extra meal to make up for the loss (I am NOT trying to lose weight).

Most of the restaurants I go to are somewhat accommodating. Since I've been a vegetarian so long, all of the places I eat are already veggie-friendly, and so most of them have vegan options. Also, I'm in a college town, so that helps. 

I'm really excited about doing this, and I hope it won't take long to internalize the vegan foods---right now I'm doing a TON of label-reading.

Thanks again!

If you're missing the cheese,  Daiya makes super awesome shreded chedder and mozzarella, it melts almost just like dairy cheese.

I get it at my local health food store

Nuts and plant-based proteins are quite filling.  I am finding that vegan foods are so much more satisfying than non-vegan foods because there are so many more nutrients that your body gets what it needs with less food (for the most part---there are a lot of junk vegan foods!).

Larabars are convenient and pretty filling.  And if you like smoked gouda cheese, there is baked tofu that my husband and I think tastes like smoked gouda.  We'll eat it cold by itself in slices, but you could put it on crackers.  We haven't had much luck with vegan cheeses yet, but we haven't tried much either.  I miss cheese a bit too!

When going to an everyday, run-of-the-mill, American restaurants that do not serve already vegan meals, I stick to salad. Know that some places will charge the amount listed on the menu, even if you ask for no chicken/cheese/bacon bits etc., though. I ask for these toppings on the side, on/in a separate plate/bowl, for my omni friends to eat. Unless the place has a great salad bar with food like peas and beans, I will have to eat something else afterwards.

If I see something vegetarian on the menu, I ask if it can be made vegan- like a burrito without cheese for example.

In general, it is difficult to eat vegan when going out unless in a big city, an area that is "vegan-friendly" or at an Asian/Eastern/Mediterranean eatery.

Well, i'm from Portugal and I can say that YES , it can be dificult to be vegan out of home because, unless you are on a mall or in a place where are many restaurants and you have a choice, you'll have to settle for a simple lettuce salad. But I imagine that on US ( guess u r from there, right?) its going to be easier because it's more developed and open minded(?):p

So, this said, you should at least try or ask where the eggs and the dairy come from.

Good luck!

I've been vegan for a month and finding something to eat out is so hard.  Here in Canada (and you can ask to double check) apparently BK's Veggie burger patty is now Vegan. They even cook it on a separate grill, it did say that it may go on a belt and sit in the warming area with real meat so you should ask them to put it in the microwave. Of course the sandwich has mayo, so you'd have to ask for that to go of.


I usually get a salad.

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I'm currently a vegetarian. But I really want to go vegan. I've been getting a lot of criticism lately, which I don't mind. Because it's my diet. And from what I read going on a vegan diet also makes you feel a whole lot better! But does anyone have any tips on how to make the switch?

Original Post by julliiaxx3:

I'm currently a vegetarian. But I really want to go vegan. I've been getting a lot of criticism lately, which I don't mind. Because it's my diet. And from what I read going on a vegan diet also makes you feel a whole lot better! But does anyone have any tips on how to make the switch?

Julliaxx try to eliminate non-vegan foods one at a time. Cheese is always a challenge for people. What helped me was making a mock Parmesan out of cashews, salt and nutritional yeast and also making mock cheese sauce. Additionally keeping in mind the suffering of the animals was a big plus. After about 3 months I did not crave cheese anymore. 
Here is the recipe for mock cheese sauce I made: ecipe-r164595

Adjust the spices to your liking. I love to put this on veggies and on potatoes.
Good Luck! 

You and I are kind of in the same boat. I'm 19, I've been vegetarian for 2 years now. I want to go vegan as a new years resolution, though I'm working on cutting out as much as possible before then so I can stop eggs/dairy completely on 1-1-12. I'm also working towards my first half-marathon in May 2012. What has helped me the most is just taking time to explore health stores. Me and a friend often who went vegan about a year ago go to a different town to explore the stores every couple of months. I also loooove to cook so websites like FoodGawkers, which has an extensive vegan tag lets me explore new vegan recipes to get excited about. Remember going vegan isn't a chore, it's an adventure!

When I was vegan and I ate out in restaurants, I relied on these:

Japanese restaurants: vegetable rolls, inari, gomaae spinach salad (watch out for tempura, which contains egg, and tempura sauce, teriyaki and miso soup, which usually contain bonito, a kind of fish)

Thai/Vietnamese restaurants: sauteed veggie/tofu dishes with rice or rice noodels, vegetarian salad rolls (watch out for the dip - it usually has fish sauce), hot and sour soup/tom yum (be sure to ask about the soup stock)

Chinese restaurants: Buddha's feast, various stirfried veggie/tofu dishes, Singaporean chow mein (made with rice noodles). Fried rice and Hong Kong-style chow mein are usually made with egg and oyster sauce, soups are usually made with meat stock, and wonton noodles usually contain egg.

Mexican restaurants: bean burritos (minus cheese/sour cream), vegetable mole, chips and salsa

Indian restaurants: Probably nothing, as even vegetarian dishes will be cooked with butter and/or cream. Maybe dal, or vegetable biryani. 

Lunches/dinners: vegetarian pasta dishes (minus cheese), hummus & pita, veggie sandwiches and wraps (minus cheese and mayo), tomato-based vegetable soups, veggie burgers, large salads, vegetarian risottos (sometimes an option, but not always - ask about butter/cream)

Breakfast/brunch: this one was always the worst. Unless you can find a place that's hip to veganism and offers tofu scrambles and the like, you're pretty much stuck with fruit salad and toast. 

Fast-food restaurants: I usually avoided fast-food chains when I was vegan as they tend to be very un-veg-friendly; however, when I was travelling through small towns and places where vegetarianism was seemingly unheard of, Subway was pretty much the only place where I could get a vegan meal (veggie delite w/ mustard and/or vinaigrette, no cheese)

Pub food: fries, veggie burger, salad, sauteed veggies, tomato-based soups

In general: look for vegetarian items that are assembled to order so any necessary substitutions/omissions can be made easily (eg. holding mayo/egg/cheese from soups/salads/pastas etc), avoid battered foods (egg), watch out for soups (meat stock), 

I live in CO and have been vegan for nearly a year. One of the many advantages for going vegan is exploring delicious new food! Eating in restaurants has not been an issue at all!!! You should expect to do some homework ahead of time. Obviously don't go to a franchise steak house and expect to have more than a salad and sweet potato. However, I have found there is SOMETHING vegan everywhere I go. I might have to get creative and ask the server lots of questions, but I just haven't had a problem with this. I suppose it depends more on where you live. Denver is an open-minded city with tons of great restaurants. I think you should give it a shot! You'll feel so much better without the cheese. Good luck!
The only restaurant that I had a hard time ordering something vegan was Red Lobster, even their pasta was cooked with butter. My husband and I eat at Apple bees a lot, and they can make any burger on their menu with a vegie patty instead of the meat patty, and I tell them to hold the cheese and the mayo. Somebody in an earlier post mentioned that the Wynn hotel in Las Vegas has vegan dishes on their menu, also the Encore hotel has vegan items on their menu in their restaurants. PF Changs can veganize most any dish if you ask.
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