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How to Dine Out on a Whole Food Plant-Based Diet

Quick Synopsis

Eating at restaurants can be a bit overwhelming when you first transition to a whole food plant-based diet. But it can be done! Follow our tips for ordering plant-based meals at nearly any type of restaurant.

The Full Story

Worried you'll never go out to eat again? This is a common fear for plant-based beginners. But rest easy - there are plenty of ways to navigate dining out on a whole food plant-based diet.

To make things easy on yourself,  choose vegetarian/vegan or at least veggie-friendly spots when possible. You can search vegetarian and vegan restaurants in your area using HappyCow. You'll be more comfortable ordering from servers who understand your dietary preferences. 

That said, you won't be choosing the restaurant in every social dining situation and sometimes you may be stuck in an area with not a whole heck of a lot of options. Don't panic! It's all going to be OK.

So what do you order if you want to eat whole food plant-based meals when you go out to eat? Check out our suggestions below:

American Bar and Grill

Veggie burger (no egg); baked potato (no butter) with corn, beans, or salsa; fresh salads, sides of brown rice, beans, or fresh vegetables.

Chinese Restaurant 

Stir-fried vegetable dish (ask for no oil, no oyster sauce); vegetarian noodles soups; garlic eggplant; sautéed green beans

Indian Restaurant 

Bombay potato; chana masala (savory chickpea); chana saag (spinach and chickpeas); dal (savory dried lentils); saag aloo (spinach and potato curry); tarka dal (lentil stew); veggie curry; veggie samosa

Italian Restaurant 

Grilled eggplant with marinara; grilled or steamed veggies; minestrone soup

Japanese Restaurant

Brown rice vegetarian sushi; udon or soba noodles; seaweed salad 

Mexican Restaurant

Beans, rice, and veggie burritos (no cheese, no sour cream); vegetarian chili; bean and vegetable based soups

Middle Eastern Restaurant

Hummus and Baba Ghanoush with fresh veggies; dolmades (grape leaves stuffed with rice); tabbouleh (tomato and herb salad) 

Thai Restaurant

Fresh veggie spring rolls; veggie Pad Thai (no egg, no fish sauce, no oil); steamed vegetable dishes; vegetable curries (no fish sauce)

Key Takeaways and Final Tips for Whole Food Plant-Based Dining Out

1. Look at the menu online ahead of time if you can so you can get a good idea of what they offer. This will make you more comfortable and make the ordering process go smoother if it's not a super veggie-friendly place.

2. Look for "steamed" "baked" and "grilled" veggie dishes - and ask about oil and any hidden animal products.

3. Be super nice to your server. Sometimes it can be awkward to explain our dietary preferences but a good attitude goes a long way!  



What you should do now

  1. We have been where you are and we’ve helped thousands of people (just like you) transition to eating a plant based diet. If you are looking for a guide that can help you with some of the big questions, and dramatically reduce your stress, this FREE Ultimate Little Guide to Plant-Based Eating is a great place to start.
  2. If you’d like to learn about plant-based living go to our Heartbeet Journal where you can read hundreds of “How To” articles. If you’d like to learn about plant-based cooking go to our Recipes Section for easy step by step favorites.
  3. If you’d like to work for us—or see why our team members love working for us—then contact us at and tell us about yourself.
  4. If you enjoyed this article, then so will your friends, so why not share it on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Email

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