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Vegetarian? Healthy Alternatives When Dining Out

When you're a vegetarian, healthy eating when dining out can be a challenge. If you've never been to a certain restaurant before, sometimes you find yourself ordering a glass of water and a side salad--or maybe not even that. Here are a few tips to finding healthy alternatives as a vegetarian when dining out.

Find Asian Restaurants

Authentic Asian restaurants have a plethora of low fat vegetarian dining options. Buddhist practices encourage (but don't require) abstaining from meat, so many dishes that have developed in Asia center around vegetables and grains. There are even more options for the lacto ovo vegetarian, as eggs are a frequent ingredient in Asian dishes as well. Just be sure to ask about the possible animal content of any dish you've never heard of.

Look for the Veggie Burgers

While salads make a delicious and healthy option at just about any restaurant, veggie burgers are a vegetarian healthy option at a number of fast food and gourmet burger restaurants. Veggie burgers are usually made of soy-based patties; lacto ovo vegetarians should be safe, but vegans should make sure there are no dairy components in the burger before they order, as there sometimes is.

Mexican Fiesta

Because you likely think of tacos when you think of Mexican food, it's easy to forget that there are many vegetarian options available at a typical Mexican restaurant as well. A burrito can be loaded with toppings and be made up of ingredients that are entirely vegan, including a flour or corn tortilla, beans, lettuce, tomatoes, guacamole and rice. If you're a lacto ovo vegetarian, you can add cheese and sour cream.

Build a Sub Your Way

Any sub sandwich shop will have a wealth of vegetarian-friendly ingredients. If you go to a sub shop where you can watch your sub being made, you can be sure to have your choice of vegetables and vegan-friendly toppings. Double check the content of any vingeratte or sauces you add, though. One safe alternative is balsamic vinaigrette.

No Need to Eschew Pizza

Many pizza parlors offer vegetarian healthy pizzas and dough and sauce made with no animal by-products. The lacto ovo vegetarian will have an easier time finding a pizza loaded with vegetables and cheese, but the vegan has a few options, too. Order a pizza laden with vegetables without cheese--the flavor won't suffer for the lack of a dairy product!

Ice Cream Parlor's Not Out

One of the most fun aspects of dining out is treating yourself to dessert afterward, but too many vegetarians can't find that animal product-free option for vegetarian healthy diets. However, some ice cream chains serve gluten-free and dairy-free sorbets, which are perhaps even more delicious than ice cream. Better yet, they're low fat--even lower in fat than ice cream and gelato.

There are always options for vegetarian healthy eating when dining out. The easiest way to get delicious, flavorful and diverse food is to eat at ethnic restaurants, which tend to have more vegetarian options than their American counterparts.

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