12 Vegetarian/Vegan Dining Etiquette

Vegetarian Vegan Dining Etiquette
Either know your choices in advance or bring your own food. Be clear when communicating your dietary needs to others. Educate others if they want to be educated about the lifestyle, but don’t do so in a preachy way. Never be judgemental or disrespectful of others’ choices.

1. Plan Ahead

ordering vegan food online
Ordering vegan food online

If you are going to go out to eat, you should always research the restaurant and menu options ahead of time to ensure you can find something to eat. If you cannot find the menu online, you can always call the restaurant and ask about vegan/vegetarian options.

Though most are not vegan restaurants, there are usually a few veg-friendly options for you to choose from. If you are looking for a place to go that caters to vegan or vegetarian needs, you can use apps such as Happy Cow or Yelp.

They will give you a bit of direction in finding vegetarian or vegan restaurants, or at least a restaurant with some good veggie options.

2. Communicate Clearly

Be straightforward and clear about your dietary needs to the server or chef when ordering at a restaurant or dinner party. Just as you would be forthcoming about any food allergies, you should do so with your vegan diet needs.

Non-vegans may not be familiar with exactly what a vegan diet is. They may think you do not eat meat, which is true, but if you are vegan, you should be sure to explain that you do not eat any animal products.

Make sure they understand that things made with chicken broth are not things you can eat, and see if they have any substitutions to offer you. Giving them information about what you can and cannot eat and what acceptable substitutions can make things much easier for them and you.

When explaining your dietary needs, you can use phrases like “I’m a vegetarian/vegan; what options can you recommend for me?” This way, they can explain what menu items they have rather than you trying to devise food options they may or may not have.

3. Be Respectful

Be considerate and polite to your dining companions, even if they are meat eaters or make different dietary choices than you. There is no need to comment negatively or belittle anyone for their choices.

If there is a debate or a discussion about special diets versus meat-eating diets, you can say, “I respect your choice to eat meat, but I prefer to remain meat-free.” This is respectful and will discourage any further debate or arguments.

4. Make Your Own Food

If you are going to a restaurant or gathering that is not vegan-friendly, you may want to consider bringing your own food or eating ahead of time. If you are going to bring your own food, you should inform the host or restaurant beforehand so as not to offend anyone.

Another option is bringing a dish to share with everyone. That way, there are vegetarian and vegan options for everyone to enjoy.

5. Be Open-Minded

It is always best to find some common ground when dining out with people who are not on plant-based diets. Rather than being closed-minded and not looking for a compromise, try looking for the best way to make everyone happy.

Whether that is ordering different types of food choices for everyone, carnivores, omnivores, and herbivores included, or whether it is everyone ordering their own meals to enjoy the vegetarian dish they want while enjoying their meat.

You can always try new things as well. Perhaps there is something on the vegan menu that is new or that everyone might like. You could also order a few side dishes that everyone may like to share. There are tons of options when it comes to sharing meals with non-vegetarians or vegans.

6. Leave Generous Tips

restaurant tipping
Restaurant tipping

You should always tip generously when dining out or even getting takeout. You may want to tip extra if the waiters and chefs go out of their way to accommodate your dietary needs.

It is customary to tip about 20%, but if your waiter takes special care to ensure you get exactly what you want and need, you may consider tipping more to show your appreciation.

Servers and chefs have difficult jobs, and ensuring everyone gets exactly what they want is no easy feat, so tell them you appreciate them.

7. Avoid Being A Pain

Just because you follow a special diet does not mean you have to be a burden to the restaurant staff or your dining companions. You want to avoid making a big deal out of your dietary restrictions while at the same time assuring that everyone is aware of them.

Try to avoid making complex requests or substitutions that aren’t on the restaurant menu. Work with the server or host to ensure you have something that you can eat, but try your best to avoid making it difficult for everyone involved.

8. Don’t Assume All Vegetarian/Vegan Food Is Healthy

Just because you are vegetarian or vegan does not mean that your diet is necessarily healthier than others. Yes, you avoid eating red meat, but not all vegetarian and vegan food is healthy.

You must be mindful of all of the ingredients, including oils and sugars, and be aware that most processed food is not very healthy.

Eating whole foods is the best way to eat a healthy vegetarian or vegan meal. You can speak with the server or chef to find out the ingredients of different dishes at a restaurant, and when you are making food at home, be sure to check the ingredients on the label before you buy it.

9. Don’t Judge Others

Rather than judging the dietary choices of others, you should be accepting and respect their choices. Everybody is different, and everyone has different needs, including dietary needs.

Just like some people must eat gluten-free, others need higher protein levels. People have different intolerances and different ways to deal with those. You should always respect the choices of others, even if they are not right for you.

10. Educate Others On The Lifestyle

If you feel the need to educate others about vegetarianism or veganism, then by all means, do so. However, you must be sure you are coming off respectfully and educationally, not preachy.

Never come from a place of judgment, but rather, educate them with kindness and respect. This is a much better approach that will not scare them off.

If you really want to educate friends or family members, you could provide them with certain resources and offer answers to any questions they may have about the lifestyle. Remember that not everyone knows about this type of lifestyle, so don’t judge their questions, but answer them in a considerate way.

11. Embrace The Challenge

In a world of carnivores, you are the minority. However, you should embrace the challenge and enjoy exploring different meals and options.

Educate yourself and make sure you understand this lifestyle better. Try new things! Explore different recipes and try different vegetarian or vegan restaurants. Enjoy trying different things!

If you have found a restaurant you love, maybe you could try a different entree each time you go to expand your palate some. The options are seemingly endless, so enjoy the journey and the challenge of finding delicious options for yourself in any environment.

12. Enjoy The Experience!

Even if you are in a situation in which there aren’t many options for you, you should try your best to enjoy the experience. Enjoy the company around you, even if you can’t quite enjoy your meal.

Suppose you can find something to eat, try and enjoy it. Not everyone knows how to make vegetarian or vegan dishes, but if you can find something to eat, then be grateful and enjoy it.

Savor each bite and make sure to express gratitude for the effort that was put into accommodating your needs. Your gratitude will not go unnoticed.

How Is Vegetarian Or Vegan Denoted On A Menu?

The V-Label is an internationally recognized symbol indicating whether a product is vegetarian or vegan. Generally speaking, a menu may have a V beside vegetarian meals and a VG beside vegan meals.

Vegetarian and Vegan Dining Do’s and Don’ts

Do’s ✅Don’ts ❌
Plan aheadBe a burden to others
Educate othersJudge others for their choices
Be respectful of other’s choicesAssume all vegetarian/vegan food is healthy
Be open-minded and flexibleAssume everywhere will have meal options for you

Margaret Dunn

Margaret is a passionate writer based in Costa Rica, though she was raised in the southeastern US. Being from the South, good manners and proper etiquette were ingrained in her from a young age and she has always been fascinated with etiquette in different settings and places. When she is not writing, you can find her exercising, reading, or spending time with her family at the beach.

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