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Your guide to eating out as a vegan

How has the vegan foodie scene changed over the years? Leila Jane of My Vegan Health weighs in...

Your guide to eating out as a vegan

Eating out as a vegan, even two years ago, used to fill me with dread. 'Will I have to ask the waiter to Frankenstein a new meal from the menu? What will my dinner companions think? Am I a massive pain in the backside?' Fast forward to 2020, and this narrative could not be more different! Gone are the days of calling ahead to the restaurant and checking menus online. Will you have to ask for clarification now and again? Sure! Do you have to settle for a side salad and a portion of chips? Not likely!

With the number of vegans in the UK quadrupling between 2014 and 2019, according to The Vegan Society, it's no great surprise that restaurants saw an emerging section of customers to cater to. Massive chains are now offering fully vegan menus: Wagamamas, Pizza Hut, and Frankie and Benny's, to name but a few. Offering anything from 'pepperoni' pizza, to tofu and chips, to vegan tuna steak, and (how could we forget) Gregg’s infamous sausage roll, the restaurant scene seems to be satisfying the preferences of everyone from health freaks to junk food vegans.

Now, that isn’t to say that there aren’t more remote regions of the UK that have fewer vegan options, but this is changing on a monthly basis. Almost every restaurant has at least one vegan dish, and putting vegan food on the menu isn't limited to the big chains, either. There have been a dizzying number of independent vegan restaurants popping up in more rural areas. For example, The Guardian recommended Kat’s Kitchen Vegan Cafe in Keswick and Forest Side Hotel in Grasmere as just two vegan hotspots in the Lake District. The UK is clearly embracing veganism and, with it, bringing mouth-watering, meat-free food to the masses, which means eating out as a vegan (or even a flexitarian!) is only going to get easier and more delicious!

Looking to discover restaurants that have vegan options? Check out Peta's On The Menu platform for a list of everything from on-the-go outlets and fast food joints, to Asian restaurants and lounge bars.

Top tips for eating out as a vegan

1. Research before you go...

Whilst the number of vegan options at restaurants across the country has grown tremendously, if you're actively going out for a meal, then it's always a good idea to check the menu online before you go, or to call ahead to ensure there are vegan options – it's certainly safer than assuming everywhere will have more than one vegan option!

2. Don't be afraid to ask...

Nothing vegan on the menu? It's always worth asking whether the chef can make something for you. After all, there's nothing worse than seeing all of your friends and family tucking into a hearty meal while you munch on a side dish. Most restaurants today are happy to whip up something especially for vegans. What's more, if a lot of diners are asking this question, restaurants may begin to offer more permanent vegan options on the menu.

3. Take advantage of technology...

Looking for somewhere while you're on-the-go or in an unfamiliar city? There are several apps today that show you vegan-friendly restaurants nearby. Try Vanilla Bean or Happy Cow. You can search by a specific town or city, or look at a map, to view nearby restaurants that range from chains and cafes to pubs.

This blog post was written by Leila Jane. Follow Leila as she explores the world of vegan travel, beauty and food on her blog, My Vegan Health.

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