Making healthy food choices is important on any diet. The choices become crucial when dining out. Since beginning the plant based lifestyle, I’ve found it easiest to prepare my own meals at home. However occasionally there is a family dinner or I am out of town or I want to pick something up on the way home after a long day.
Is it possible to eat out when living a plant based lifestyle? Or while following other diets? Yes!
I was in Olathe, KS today, dropping Greg off to paint a house interior for his cousin. Before I headed back to Joplin, we wanted to eat a late lunch. My experience provides a good example of how to stay true to a diet or lifestyle, while enjoying a meal out.
* Avoid fast food restaurants. There are very few good options available in fast food.
* Use Google, if you own a smart phone, typing in the words, vegan restaurants, and the town name, to locate healthier possibilities. Look the list over carefully! Google isn’t perfect. I Googled vegan restaurants Olathe KS and IHOP appeared on the list. While they do offer a few healthier options, it’s not a good choice for me.
* Ask for suggestions. I found the perfect restaurant today by asking Greg’s cousin Tim what healthy options were available locally.
* Check out an online menu before finalizing the selection, to make sure the restaurant is a good choice.
I chose a new-to-me restaurant this afternoon, Zoës Kitchen in Olathe, based on Tim’s recommendation. Zoës features Mediterranean cooking using fresh ingredients that are prepared daily.
* There are several good choices for restaurants, when eating plant based or following other diets. Many restaurants offer a veggie plate or allow sides to be ordered a la carte. Chose Mexican or Chinese or Thai restaurants that offer brown rice, simply prepared vegetables or salads with lots of veggies rather than iceberg lettuce with toppings such as cheese, bacon and croutons. There are good buffet style restaurants that have large salad bars full of healthy choices. However, avoid buffet style if the platters and platters of food present too great a temptation!
* Carefully check out the menu before ordering and don’t hesitate to ask the wait staff questions about ingredients or food prep.
Zoës Kitchen made it easy to make great choices. Their menu listed exactly what was in each meal, and they even put a V for vegan next to plant based meals.
Greg and I shared Classic Hummus with Cucumber Slices, and we each had a bowl of Mediterranean Lentil Soup. Both were delicious! I loved that the hummus came with cucumber slices. Pita bread was available on request. That made me feel that Zoës has my best health in mind.
* If the meal isn’t right or what you expected, don’t feel like you have to eat it. Most restaurants are happy to get it right for you.
* And if the meal is more than you can comfortably eat, take the rest home. I like knowing I have another healthy meal ready to eat in the fridge.
With a little knowledge and preparing, eating out doesn’t have to set me back or make me feel guilty, or worse, make me feel bad, physically. I have a short list of approved restaurants in the Joplin area. And I love discovering new vegan restaurants in bigger cities, and places that at least have plant based options on the menu.
In the end, eating out isn’t supposed to be stressful or a reason to cheat on a diet or lifestyle. Its about connecting with others, having fun, and nourishing the body and the soul. When I can accomplish all three, it becomes a beautiful experience.
Zoës Kitchen in Olathe met that criteria, providing wholesome, flavorful, healthy food in a fun, colorful atmosphere. It was added to my list of favorites today.