It is a constant struggle to get good, healthy, vegan food whilst eating out. It is especially difficult when you have a family that is not also vegan. I don’t like succumbing to only fries and a side salad. For one, french fries aren’t healthy and at many restaurants they aren’t vegan. After transitioning to a plant based diet after New Year here are some of my more satisfying meals. Most are from national chains, but there are a few local and/or regional favorites here.
I love Chipotle. I think almost everybody does. I actually have never actually had a burrito. Before it was because I was trying to do a low carb/paleo diet, now it is due to my wheat allergy. Also, the food is so filling I can’t imagine adding a huge tortilla into the mix. I typically get either the salad or a burrito bowl with brown rice. I get the sofritas with black beans, lettuce, onions & peppers, every salsa the offer, and guacamole. Before became vegan I had a love-hate relationship with beans, but I of course have had to let that go. I don’t like relying on a lot soy products for my protein so I switched to getting the veggie bowl instead of sofritas. I get both black beans and pinto beans and the biggest plus is that guacamole is FREE!
2. Taco Bell
I know fast food is not healthy period, but sometimes you can’t get around it. Taco bell is like the generic Chiptole for me. I either get black bean tacos, fresco style, with guacamole. Or the power bowl without sour cream, cheese, or avocado cream, and extra guacamole. With both meals I get a side of pintos without cheese. I would like it if they did like chipotle and gave guacamole for free if your getting no meat or dairy. I mean, they could at least give me that.
I feel better about getting Chic-fil-a for myself and my family because they have been rated as one of the best fast food restaurants as far as hormones, pesticides, and GMOs, etc, are concerned. I usually get a large super-food salad that has kale, broccolini, nuts, and dried cherries. Or I will get their southwestern salad without chicken or cheese. I don’t get the salad a lot, because they will charge less without meat (some restaurants don’t), I still think its over priced.
4. Kimono Japanese (local)
This is a restaurant local to where I live, but I’m sure any hibachi place offers similar options. I get the spicy teriyaki dinner with tofu, mixed vegetables, and steamed rice. I made the mistake once of getting fried rice, I even remembered to ask for no egg, but I didn’t think about butter/margarine. I decided to go with steamed rice to be safe regardless. They offer many vegan sushi rolls including: avocado, cucumber, sweet potato, mushroom, and veggie. I get the veggie which included avocado,cucumber, and asparagus. Asian is always a good choice because their food is usually naturally dairy free and the vegan choices don’t leave me staring at my families food like a sad puppy dog. The same goes for Mexican or Hispanic food;as long as a have plenty of GOOD avocado or guacamole.
The other weekend, my husband wasn’t feeling well, so I decided to get his favorite lobster ravioli from Carrabbas for take out. We had been avoiding it since I found out about my dairy allergy, but I decided to make the ultimate sacrifice. But I had to figure out something I could get that would be satisfying. They now have a gluten free pasta. So I got it, along with spinach, sun dried tomatoes, mushrooms, in olive oil and garlic. I added some nutritional yeast when I got home and it was delicious. This same could probably be done at any Italian Restaurant. Pasta with marinara sauce is usually safe, but I typically like something a little more adventurous.
I thought I was safe getting guacamole and chips, which also come with salsa. I got that when eating their with some coworkers. My dairy allergy let me know that it was not a safe vegan option as that evening I was camped out on the toilet (sorry TMI). After researching I found out their tortilla chips have dairy. This makes as much sense as french fries and hash browns with dairy, but somehow they find a way to mess it up. When I checked their website they say to get guacamole with flour tortillas. For one, who the heck even wants that, and for two I can’t due to my wheat allergy. So my go to meal from Chili’s is black beans and rice or the quinoa blend if I’m feeling super healthy. I may also get a side salad or guacamole and/or salsa. I know it seems a little lack luster compared to the other options I’ve listed, but I really, really enjoy their black beans, so it works for me.
7. Mozzarella Fellas (local)
This list is not in ranking order, but I did save the best for last. This the latest jewel that I’ve discovered in my city. My husband was missing the New York pizza place from our home town, and someone suggest them. I usually get a small veggie pizza without cheese from pizza places. If they have gluten free I get it, if not, I ignore my mild wheat allergy. When I checked then menu I was pleasantly surprised that they had several, not only vegetarian, but VEGAN options. They use Follow Your Heart vegan cheese. Unlike the chain Mellow Mushroom, which I have not added to this list, because they use disgusting Daiya cheese. They also have a vegan ranch and cashew flakes they use in place of Parmesan cheese. The dishes I’ve tried thus far are the crab cakes made with artichokes and heart of palm, Fit for Queen margarita pizza, Bbq pizza made with jack fruit. What I like it that they realize that vegan cheese, even a superior brand, will never replace real cheese. So there pizzas are elevated with lots of other flavors. The vegan margarita pizza includes pickled red onions and a balsamic glaze. They Bbq pizza has bbq sauce, of course, jalapeños, and a ranch drizzle. This place is beyond awesome. My husband actually prefers another Italian Restaurant’s pizza over this place, but we compromise, because of their wonderful vegan options for me.
8. Smoothie King
Saturday mornings are traditional for fast food in my family. My husband loves McDonald’s breakfast but sometimes gets Bojangles or Taco Bell. We have a plethora of restaurants down the main road near our apartment. On the way to get his favorite fast food breakfast, I swing by smoothie king and get the Dark Chocolate Banana smoothie, with Kale. They always have a $1 off coupon on each receipt and I use the rewards to eventually get a free smoothie. Sometimes I treat my son to a Little Angel, their strawberry banana smoothie, or get a medium and share mine. I
I know there are many other options that are great for vegans, but this is what I’ve experienced thus far. I hope to find more places that will make eating out not such a pain. Or maybe I shouldn’t. The more tasty vegan options I find, the emptier my bank account is. What are some other good places you’ve found to be convenient and delicious options for vegans?