How to Order Vegan Pretty Much Anywhere!
Chances are, there are more vegan options out there than you might realize! With just a few modifications to some of your favorite menu items, you can create a delicious vegan feast!
Check out our vegan meal recommendations and tips below. If we’ve missed a great option you’d like to suggest, please let us know.
Vegan recommendations: Green or red vegetable curry made with coconut milk; vegetable spring or summer rolls; raw papaya salad (hold the fish sauce and dried shrimp); vegetable pad Thai (stir-fried rice noodle dish – ask for no egg); sweet and sour, peanut satay or chili basil fried tofu; tom yum mushroom soup and pineapple fried rice. For dessert, try some mango-sticky rice or banana spring rolls.
Tip: You can usually add tofu to any dish. If ordering a curry, check that the curry paste doesn’t contain shrimp. If ordering a soup or noodle dish with broth, check that it doesn’t contain fish sauce.
Vegan recommendations: Veggie burrito with beans and rice; tacos made with rajas (roasted pepper strips) and potatoes and nachos. Hold the cheese and sour cream!
Tip: Traditional guacamole should not contain sour cream, but it’s always best to check as some restaurants choose to add it. Corn chip and salsa side dishes are usually vegan-friendly.
Vegan recommendations: Falafel (spiced chickpea patty) wrap with tabbouleh, salad and hummus.
Tip: Check the bread is made without egg and dairy. If you’re after a snack, ask if you can order a container of falafels to dip in hummus (a chickpea dip/spread) or sweet chili sauce.
Vegan recommendations: Stir fried vegetables and/or tofu (also called chop suey) with steamed rice, veggie fried rice (hold the egg and check there’s no meat), veggie noodle dish such as vegetable Chow Mein (stir-fry noodles and shredded veggies).
Tip: If ordering a stir fry, be sure to ask for no fish or oyster sauce, the restaurant will usually offer soy sauce instead. If ordering a noodle dish, check if they are egg noodles and if they are, ask if you can have rice noodles instead. Tofu can usually be added to any dish!
Vegan recommendations: Steamed or fried vegetable gyoza (dumplings filled with veggies, mushroom and tofu is a common filling; avocado, cucumber and mixed veggie/tofu sushi; inari (a deep fried sweetened tofu bag filled with sushi rice); edamame (young green soy beans); udon, soba and other Japanese noodle dishes such as udon noodle soup.
Tip: When ordering sushi, check for no mayonnaise and no fish or egg. If you’d like to try a noodle or soup dish with a broth, be sure to ask if the restaurant offers vegetable-based broth (no fish). If it’s your first time trying edamame, don’t eat the them whole! Only eat the soy beans inside, never the skin.
Vegan recommendations: Japchae (Korean Sweet Potato Noodles – check for no meat), a vegetable Bibimbap (Mixed Spicy Veggies and Rice—check for no egg), vegetable dumplings, Kimbap (Korean Sushi Roll) or pyogobusut-tangsoo (sweet and sour shiitake mushroom) with steamed rice.
Tip: Tofu can usually be added to any dish. Generally, the veggie bibimbap can be ordered in a hot stone bowl or plain depending on your preference.
Vegan recommendations: Pasta alla arrabiata (a spicy tomato-based pasta sauce), pasta aglio olio (toasted garlic, oil and sometimes parsley), pasta puttanesca (garlicky tomato sauce with olives – ask for no anchovies), fresh-baked bread with olive oil, bruschetta (grilled bread rubbed with garlic and topped with olive oil and salt, usually topped with fresh tomato and basil but double check) and any vegetarian pizza (just hold the cheese).
Tip: If ordering pizza, check the dough is made without egg and dairy. Many restaurants make garlic bread using olive oil instead of butter and are vegan-friendly, so it’s worth asking! If ordering pasta, check if it contains egg.
Vegan recommendations: Cauliflower, onion and okra bhajis (similar to a fried fritter); vegetable samosas (a fried or baked triangle pastry filled with spiced potatoes, onions, peas and lentils); vegetable curries such as veggie vindaloo, chana masala/chole (chickpea curry) sambar, vegetable biryani and balti; saag aloo (curried spinach and potatoes); aloo gobi (cauliflower and potato); daal (spiced lentils); chana saag (spiced spinach and chickpeas) and Bombay potato (spiced potatoes).
Tip: Ask the restaurant if it can cook your food with vegetable oil instead of ghee (clarified butter often used in Indian cooking). Indian food is extremely vegetarian friendly, but usually contains dairy such as yogurt, creams and ghee, so be sure to check that your dish is dairy-free. Avoid any dishes with ‘paneer’ (an Indian cheese).
Vegan recommendations: vegetable curries on injera (a special fermented Ethiopian flatbread made with teff flour that’s soft like a pancake and used to scoop up the curry), shiro (chickpea curry), gomen (spiced green collards) and mesir wot (red lentils cooked with spices).
Tip: When ordering a curry dish, check that it isn’t cooked with dairy.
Vegan recommendations: Vegetable rice pilaf (rice cooked with oil, onion and spices), veggie kebab with falafel (spiced chickpea patties), hummus (chickpea dip/spread) or baba ghanoush (smoked eggplant dip/spread) with pita bread, tabbouleh (a salad made with parsley, chopped tomatoes and cucumbers), batata harra (spiced potatoes), fattoush salad (a garden salad with herbed crispy bread topping and a lemon dressing) and vegetarian dolmades (vine leaves full of fresh herbs, roasted eggplant, olives, spices and rice).
Tip: If ordering a salad, ask for no cheese – especially feta. Some dolmades include ground beef so be sure to check they’re veggie.
If you’re feeling confident and notice something on a restaurant menu that can easily be veganized (for example: a veggie stir fry made with rice noodles instead of egg noodles) politely suggest to the restaurant owner/manager that it be added to the menu as a vegan option as it may attract a new customer base for them! If the restaurant is open to the idea, offer to promote its veggie options on social media. Most everyone will warm up to the offer of free advertising!
Want to learn how to order vegan with ease at popular food chains like Taco Bell and Burger King? Our food chain guide is coming soon!