Everytime friends suggest eating out, I take a step back in my head. I LOVE eating out. Indian, burgers, pizza... the idea of not having to cook and have a great time with friends is pure bliss, that is until I remember that I can't eat just anything.
There are a lot more people with food allergies today than there ever were, and many restaurants (especially if you live in a suburban area) don't cater to newer developments in eating habits. The vegan movement is growing, however, currently at 3% of the nation's population, and rising! Cities like New York City boast of having over 100 restaurants, cafes or bakeries that cater to vegan diets. But what is one to do if your town/city don't have such a plethora of options? It's like going to war: plan ahead!
If you have some amazing friends, like I do, they will be pretty laid back with going to any restaurant that has vegan options. If not, then there's always plan B: BYOF (Bring your own food). Now, don't get discouraged or overwhelmed. It may sound cumbersome and a pain in the butt to have to develop a habit of bringing your own food on every outing you go on, but there are simple ways to make this easy.
1. bulk cooking.
I LIVE on this. I usually make 1 pot of something and live off of it for the whole week. If you don't mind this, it makes life easy, and you can enjoy vegan choices whilst being in great company.
If you are going to chance ordering something that is on the menu at a regular restaurant, make sure to ask specific questions, like whether or not something's cooked in butter or oil, and especially if you have food allergies, if the veggies have touched animal product or dairy.
(**if you have severe dairy, wheat or nut allergies, you must make sure to specify to the waiter/waitress about cross contamination, i.e. cleaned bowls & dishware without having touched any of the above mentioned allergic products)
2. snack options.
have snacking options readily available. find what you like best and make sure you have it in stock. chances are, you can definitely expect at least a veg dish at whatever party or restaurant you go to, and most places are fine with serving you undressed (i.e. not buttered) veggies. (I always ask for my vegan dressing, like a vinaigrette, on the side.)
If this is not enough for you, the following will be the quickest, easiest option
3. the store bought option
frozen, vegan meals
vegan packaged snacks/goods
vegan friendly protein bars (make sure to READ THE LABEL, as many protein bars use whey protein which is a milk derivative)
In truth, being a vegan is quite a commitment. Heck, living a healthy lifestyle is a large undertaking and in today's fast-paced society, it's difficult to try and fit in a lifestyle that may resemble Little House on the Prairie, but if you think about it, what did the human population suffer back in those pioneer days, other than a lack of medical science technology? People ate meat and carbs, fruits and veggies, worked hard from morning til night and lived until they were 90+. Yes, it wasn't an ideal era, but what era is perfect? Let's face it. If you want to be healthy and live for a cause, it's going to take some work, but what we need to ask ourselves is this: is the effort worth it?
*no digestive/allergic problems
*clearer skin (it's true!)
*stopping animal cruelty
*supporting natural, clean farming/living
*less destruction to the earth
*leaving behind good soil, good ethics and habits to pass on to the next generation
(these are just some of the perks of being healthy and/or being vegan)
I'd say it is. Your well-being is worth the effort.