Go Green: Order Vegetarian

Going meatless is one simple way to impact the environment

6. Does my choice contain meat broth or stock? What about other vegan no-no’s?

Many soups and sauces are made from meat or poultry stock. So, ask about this before ordering to ensure a truly vegan meal. Other common ingredients could also bring your meal back into non-vegan territory, depending on how strictly you define the term.

Some vegans may simply avoid meat, eggs, and dairy, while others may opt out of foods containing other vegan no-no’s like gelatin (used in many candies and jams), bone char (often used to process white sugar), and, sometimes, lecithin ( some forms are made from egg yolk and used to bind salad dressings).

If you would rather not partake in a meal containing these ingredients, mention them to your server by name and ask him or her to double-check with the chef before you order.

7. Is there any protein in my meal?

Many people who aren’t familiar with vegetarian and vegan diets assume that these choices may be lacking in nutritional value, and protein is typically a top concern. While Americans tend to believe that king-sized portions of protein are necessary to grow big and strong, medical findings show a different story.

Only one calorie out of every 10 we consume needs to come from protein for a healthy diet, according to a study conducted by the Food and Nutrition Board at the National Academy of Sciences‘ Institute of Medicine. And most vegetable choices more than meet the quota.

A cup of cooked beans or lentils contains a whopping 18 grams of protein, while a mere 2 tablespoons of peanut butter weighs in at 8 grams, according to the USDA. If you’re unsure about the protein or nutritional content of your meal, ask your server for further guidance.

8. Do you offer dairy substitutes?

If you love milk, cheese, and other dairy products, don’t deprive yourself! Ask your server about dairy-free alternatives like almond milk or rice cheese.

These choices may sound a bit off-putting at first, but most taste the same (if not better!) than the real thing. If you’re already thinking ahead to bathing suit season, you’ll be pleased to know that these choices are typically lower in fat and calories, too.

9. Is your pasta made in-house? Does it contain egg?

Homemade pasta is always an attractive menu choice. But be careful when ordering it if you’re going vegan for the night. Typically, homemade pasta recipes require egg. Many restaurants opt for eggless alternatives to please vegan diners, but you’ll never know until you ask!

10. What kind of bread do you use?

This may sound surprising if you’re not a baker, but many bread recipes actually call for milk, scratching them off your list of vegan possibilities. Other chefs may glaze their bread with egg to create a golden-brown hue. So, be sure to ask your server about these ingredients before chowing down.

— Mary Mazzoni, Earth911


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