McVeggies and salads and Fourthmeals — oh my!
Published: Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, April 13, 2011 15:04
Nowadays, pretty much all restaurants and fast-food chains offer salads, which are always an easy out for vegans and vegetarians. However, the leafy filled dish can get to be unsatisfying and boring. So don't settle — try something new.
Being a vegan doesn't mean you should avoid eating out. Just in case you end up around one of these establishments I listed, you know what to order.
In order to persuade meat-eaters to eat healthier, vegan/vegetarian options must be available in the places where they dine. We must show that we support these places to get what we want in return. Even Burger King offers its BK Veggie; a vegetarian (not vegan) burger. Help by ordering these menu items at restaurants that you've been eating at for years.
Baskin-Robbins offers dairy and gelatin-free ices and sorbets. Enjoy them as you would ice cream, except without the horror of dairy — need I remind you of the hormones?
One of my favorites, at Cheeburger Cheeburger and Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville, is a large, grilled vegan Boca burger. Enjoy a grilled Portobello mushroom sandwich at Cheeburger Cheeburger as well.
At Chili's, order the veggie quesadillas or fajitas and substitute the cheese and sour cream with extra vegetables and guacamole. In fact, you can create vegan quesadillas and fajitas in most restaurants. Also offered is a vegetarian black bean patty that can take place of any burger or sandwich meat on the menu. Chili's vegetarian menu cautions to avoid all fried food because the same fryer oil is used for animal products.
Chipotle also offers a vegetarian fajita burrito. Ask for black beans instead of the pinto beans, which are cooked with bacon.
If pizza is your go-to fast food, make Little Caesars and Papa John's your choice. The pizza sauce and dough at both restaurants are vegan. Omit the cheese and choose your favorite vegetable toppings instead. You can easily create a tasteful vegan pizza.
A new find for me is The Boston Coffee House, in the Waterford Lakes shopping plaza. I went for the first time recently and ordered the Mango Salsa Salad with mandarin ginger dressing and asked them to stuff it into a pita for me. It was vegan-ly delicious! They allow you to fill any pita with a salad or roll it up into a wrap. Also offered is a roasted vegetable pita — leave out the cheese and substitute the cucumber sauce for a non-cream based dressing. Don't forget to ask for soy milk and hold the whip when ordering a coffee drink.
Vegans can also enjoy Denny's any time of the day. Denny's vegan foods include oatmeal, English muffins, bagels, grits, applesauce, fresh fruit, vegetable plates, seasoned French fries, baked potatoes with several vegetable toppings, garden salads with light Italian or oil-and-vinegar dressing, and sandwiches that can be made with several vegetable options.
Craving a good old fashioned fast food burger? Johnny Rockets features the Streamliner, a vegan Boca burger with grilled onions, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and mustard. And if you're visiting New York City or California, McDonald's is offering a McVeggie burger as a trial run.
Macaroni Grill has several vegan options, including all the pastas with garlic and oil and its Capellini Pomodoro. If you order Tomato Bruschetta and Penne Arrabbiata without cheese, you're golden.
My favorite bagel place of all time is Manhattan Bagel. Guess what? The bagels are vegan. Just use your judgment, obviously the jalapeño cheddar cheese and egg varieties are not vegan. The Manhattan Grille and Vegetable Garden sandwiches can be made on a bagel, a roll, or a tortilla and are vegan if you omit the spreads and cheese.
Lime Fresh Mexican Grill also offers a tremendous amount of vegan and vegetarian options. Order any veggie option on Mondays and receive 20 percent off your meal. Still craving Mexican? All of Moe's Southwest Grill's tacos, fajitas, salads and burritos can be made vegan by substituting tofu for meat and skipping the cheese. Double check and make sure it's being made with a vegan tortilla.
P.F. Chang's is one of the most vegan-friendly restaurant chains around. Its vegetarian menu is terrific, and everything can be made vegan; from appetizers such as Tofu Lettuce Wraps (I order it every time) to entrées like Orange Peel Tofu.
A local favorite is Pollo Tropical. Several vegan options are available such as the Vegetarian TropiChop entrée. Other vegan items include Balsamic Tomatoes and Bananas Tropical. The chain's black beans, French fries, white rice, yellow rice, boiled yucca and corn are vegan too.
An alternative to Subway's Veggie Delite is Quiznos's veggie sub. Order it filled with guacamole, black olives, lettuce, tomatoes, red onions and mushrooms.
If you're in the theme parks and your stomach starts growling after venturing through Animal Kingdom, the Rainforest Cafe offers The Natural Burger without the Safari Sauce and the Morningstar Garden Grill.
Feeling the Fourthmeal? Taco Bell's dishes can be veganized if you omit a few ingredients. The tacos, nachos, and Mexican pizzas are vegan when you order it without the meat, cheese and sour cream. Or stick with the bean burrito without the cheese. Same with Del Taco.
If you pass a Wendy's, go for a plain baked potato, the Deluxe Garden Salad with red Italian dressing and no cheese or French fries.
Do some research. You'll be surprised at what your favorite restaurants offer. Read the menu, use your judgment and ask questions if you need to. This is your chance to broaden your horizons and add more variety to your diet.
For more information on how to go out to eat vegan-style, visit peta.org/living/vegetarian-living.