Eating less meat (or eliminating it completely from your diet) has positive effects on the environment and a plethora of benefits for your health. If you’ve newly taken the plunge to exclude meat from your diet or you’re simply trying to reduce your consumption of animal products, eating out can pose a challenge.
We asked clinical nutritionist, Holly Arnold, for her tips on eating out when you’re trying to avoid meat, while also not compromising on your social life.
Where you choose to eat out will determine how easy or hard it is to find vegetarian or vegan options, so keep this in mind when making dinner plans with friends. Before deciding on a restaurant, scope it out to see what’s on offer, as many vego options can also veer into unhealthy territory, which you may not be keen on.
“Take time to look at the menu and check there’s something on there that meets your dietary preferences,” Arnold told TheLatch—.
“If you know you’re going to be limited in your choices and it’s looking like junk food is on the menu, try to make sure your other meals that day have consisted of plenty of vegetables, plant-based protein and whole grains.”
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Last nights dinner = today’s lunch. This was part of my dinner last night and now I'm reaping the benefits of leftovers. All I've got to do is add a bit of protein, which depends on what else I've got in the fridge. I always ‘cook once and eat twice’ cause I’ve got no time for scrambling around my kitchen at 7 am in trying to pull lunch together, losing half my lunch break in a cafe queue or wasting money on a crap meal. It’s the little habits you put in place each day that help make getting good food into you just that bit easier ???
If none of the main meal options are vego-friendly, side dishes are your next best bet. Restaurants that offer share plates are also great for vegetable-based options, think tapas or dim sum, which usually include a number of dishes sans meat.
“This allows you to select sides (which are often free of animal products) and choose plant-based options, whilst still allowing other guests to add in additional options if they wish,” said Arnold.
“If you have other dietary requirements, don’t be afraid to ring the restaurant and see what they can do for you beforehand. Most restaurants are extremely accommodating and given enough notice, will be happy to put something together for you.”
If you’ve exhausted all plant-based friendly restaurants, consider a dinner party where everyone brings a dish. This way no one is constrained to one style of eating and everyone can try something a little different.
“Invite your friends over and get everyone to bring a dish, that way you can make sure you’ve made something you’d love to eat and it’s a different type of night for you and your friends to enjoy,” said Arnold.