An easy way to try new foods is to go to restaurants that offer a variety of vegetarian entrees. Eating Chinese? Try the bean curd (tokwa) dishes or ask for vegetable fried rice (without eggs) and eggplant with Sichuan sauce. Going Italian? Try marinara, arrabiata, or garlic and oil over spinach fettuccine. Having Mexican? Order bean burritos and tacos (make sure that there’s no lard in the beans), or make a hearty meal out of refried beans with Spanish rice and served with fresh tortillas, guacamole, and salsa.
In Indian restaurants, you’ll find fabulous vegetable curries, lentil soup, potato-filled samosas, and other delights. Japanese, Ehtiopian, Middle Eastern, Thai, and other ethnic restaurants also offer delicious meat-and dairy-free items.
Here are more great vegan dining tips when you’re out of town:
- If you’re stuck at a behind-the-times restaurant without many vegetarian options, ask if the chef can whip up a vegetarian entree. Some easy dishes to make vegetarian include eggplant ensalada, chop suey, pancit, adobong kangkong or adobong sitaw and laing. Most restaurants accommodate special requests, and you’ll be surprised at the creativity of some chefs!
- When dining at someone else’s house, let your house know in advance that you’re a vegetarian. Offer to take a vegetarian dish to share so that they too might want to try something new.
- You can usually find the following vegan foods at street stalls everywhere so being a vegan isn’t exactly difficult for you: banana cue (fried bananas), camote cue (fried sweet potatoes), fried tokwa (deep fried tofu cubes), cassava cakes, plain puto, turon (fried banana fritters) and suman (native rice cakes).
- Traveling will not be a problem too. But don’t forget to let the travel agents know about your vegetarian preferences in advance. Many airlines will provide you with a meat-and-dairy-free meal that will put standard airline fare to shame. Be sure to order at least 24 hours in advance, either through your travel agent or by calling the airline’s reservation hotline.
- Wherever you go…don’t forget that Starbucks, Seattle’s Best, and The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf outlets now offer soy milk as an alternative to cow’s milk in most of their drinks.