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How to Eat Out Raw

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One of the most frustrating aspects of being a raw vegan is realizing that most restaurants are not creating menus with you in mind, which leaves one believing that they must either eat at home or supply their own meals. Fortunately, it is easier to find raw vegan fare at the average American restaurant than one may realize at first glance, which is good, since most raw vegans share their lives and meals with those who are not, and dining out is an important part of socializing, especially for singles. After all, no one would expect to have a first date in someone's home; that would be too intimate. So, dining out is a necessity for many people, as it is part of the courtship ritual, in our culture.

There are many restaurants across the US that specialize in vegan cuisine, but they tend to be concentrated in some parts of the country (California and New York) and non-existent in others (the Northeast and Midwest). This being the case, it makes sense to simply make use of conventional restaurants that have the potential to cater to everyone's dietary preferences. However, if you can find a raw vegan, vegan or even a vegetarian restaurant in your area, you'd do well to make use of it. It certainly won't harm your family, friends or date to consume raw whole foods at one meal. Far from it. But since most of us won't have the option, because of our location, we'll discuss how you can get what you want from the typical American restaurant.

  • Always devise a plan when you know that you will be eating out. It's important for anyone not on a typical Western diet to plan ahead, but it's even more important for those who are raw vegans. Never go out to eat without a plan. Start by doing your research. Google a general list of restaurants in your city or town and visit their websites. Most restaurants, whether they're chains or standalone operations, have a website. It's a cheap, convenient way to promote their business. Most restaurants also post their menus online, for customer's convenience. They may even have a Facebook page and Twitter account. If they do, ask questions about possible raw vegan options.
  • Call the restaurant for options. Do this even if you have gotten a response online – be it positive or negative. The person fielding your questions online may have little or nothing to do with the day to day operations of that restaurant, and what you were promised online may not be considered doable by the actual kitchen staff and management. You want to be certain.
  • Ask if the restaurant has a vegetarian menu. Regardless of the dishes an eatery may be known for, most restaurants and cafes have a “secret menu”. These are items that they're willing to make for those on special diets. One of the most common special diets that conventional restaurants are willing to cater to is vegetarian. These secret menus are secret for a reason, so you'll have to ask for it if you want it. From there it's easy enough to get the type of dishes you want, uncooked.
  • Be very specific about what you want. It's important to keep in mind that even when a restaurant agrees to prepare a raw vegan dish for you, it may not be enough. Most people who have never been raw, and even some cooked vegans, fail to understand how much food you may need to, not only satisfy your appetite, but get enough calories to truly call what you've eaten a meal. Tell them exactly how much of whatever veggies and fruit they have on hand you will need to constitute a true raw vegan meal. Don't be surprised if the bill is a little more than expected; you should be well aware of fresh produce prices. Even so, get an estimate before making reservations.
  • Take advantage of the veggie side dishes. Most restaurants offer veggie side dishes for the health conscious; simply request yours raw and unseasoned. Since veggie sides are usually very inexpensive, don't hesitate to order two or three, for variety.
  • Make use of the salad bar. The best conventional restaurants offer a salad bar, where customers can build their own salad. Most have a low flat rate for their salad bars, so you needn't worry about being overcharged for produce there. However, there are a few restaurants that charge by weight. Either way, you can be certain that you'll get your money's worth.
  • Bring your own raw seeds and nuts. In my experience, most restaurants don't offer raw nuts and seeds at their salad bars, only pasteurized and/or roasted, so feel free to bring your own. It's highly unlikely that the waitstaff will object to a baggie of nuts and seeds to sprinkle on your leafy greens.
  • Get permission before bringing outside food. If you're one of those fastidious souls who just can't bring themselves to trust their nutritional needs to others and you wish to bring your own entree, please, call the restaurant beforehand to get permission from the restaurant's management. AND do mention that your dining companions will be ordering off the menu.

Most restaurants are more than happy to comply with unusual requests, because they understand that they are in a people pleasing business, where only satisfied customers return and there are many, many options for the dining public. So, if you follow these simple tips, you may no longer feel the need to bring your own meals when you dine out in the future.

Never forget that dining out isn't just about food or ambiance. Even the worst meals can be improved with good companionship. As Helen Keller once said, “Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.” So, relax, think positively, think humorously and enjoy your time with family, friends or your date. Your good cheer will positively effect their mood and vice versa.


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