Vegan Guide to Takeaway Cuisine

I had the idea to write this from a recent conversation I had with someone on Twitter, they were struggling to find anything that would be suitable for a vegan on the menu at a restaurant. It inspired me to write this little guide for any one else who finds eating in restaurants, Chinese takeaway shops or at fast food chains a struggle.

As a beginner vegan myself, 2 years ago I found it difficult at times to go out with friends and family due to lack of options on the menu and having to make a meal from the side orders. Don’t get me wrong that takes some set of skills – despite wanting to see ‘vegan options’ on there, sometimes we have to make do with what we have.

To start of with, if you know you are going out somewhere ahead of time, it can make all the difference if you do some research into the place you are wanting to dine in. Search their menu online; have a look and see if they have any vegan options, or if not contact them via email, companies are willing to discuss any enquires from possible customers, so don’t be shy.

Chinese –

Many vegetable dishes on the menus are suitable for vegans: Steamed vegetables with a side of sesame sauce, Mixed vegetables in black bean sauce, Vegetable spring rolls etc. If you are lucky enough to have a Chinese takeaway close to you that offer tofu on the menu, then you can replace meat in almost any dish. Tofu in garlic sauce, Mapo Style Tofu etc.

Things to look out for:

  • Oyster sauce
  • egg (included in the likes of: Singapore noodles, and egg fried rice)
  • Fish in vegetable dishes (this isn’t a common thing, however I had experienced it so always make sure to check the allergen list)

Indian –

Curry, Curry, Curry! Indian is the best for vegans, with so many options out there, you won’t be struggling to find a meal. Onion, and cauliflower bhajis, vegetable samosas and vegetable pakoras are all vegan. Along with that mains you can indulge in include: Vegetable curry, veggie vindaloo, chana masala/chole (chickpea curry) sambar, vegetable biryani and balti are. And the majority of the sides tend to be veggie-packed; saag aloo, aloo gobi, tarka daal, daal, chana saag and Bombay potato too. With so much to choose from you won’t be stuck.

Things to look out for:

  • If the restaurant cooks in ghee (butter); ask your waiter before hand, if so then opt for your meal to be cooked in vegetable oil.
  • Naan bread is often baked with yogurt so it’s best to avoid
  • Chapatti brushed with butter; you should ask for them ‘plain’
  • Raita is a sauce made from yogurt, so avoid ordering this

Italian –

Cuisine loved by many, but don’t fret you don’t have to give up your favourite Italian dishes. There are many vegan friendly options out there such as: vegetable pizza with no cheese (or vegan cheese if there’s the option), Puttanesca without anchovies, and a pasta Primavera packed full of veggies – always make sure it is completely vegetable based. A popular Italian restaurant amongst vegans is Zizzi’s, they have a completely separate vegan menu with array of options from vegan pizza, lentil ragu and chocolate desserts. I have a review on my visit to Zizzi’s here.

Things to look for:

  • Fresh pasta is often made with egg. so make sure your pasta is dried and has not been made with egg
  • Creamy dishes often are not vegan; as they have a base of milk
  • Pizza bases: always ensure that the dough had no milk or egg in the mixture

Mexican –

Mexican cuisine is popular amongst vegans, with so many options out there. Things such as Guacamole, salsa, and refried beans are all vegan. You are often able to specify what you want exactly. Opt for the vegetable version of meals such as: vegetable chilli, vegetable quesadillas and tacos etc. Just ensure your waiter knows not to include any dairy products in your order.

Things to look for:

  • Nachos – no cheese, no sour cream – ask for extra beans or chilli sauce instead
  • Make sure your breads, wraps etc. are baked without eggs, milk or butter

Fast Food Chains:

Places such as: Mc Donald’s and Burger King – places that you wouldn’t really see a vegan, however if you find yourself in a situation where you have to be here, then don’t worry you will have some options here. Mc Donald’s have released their new ‘McVegan’ sandwich, other items that could be suitable for vegans include: a plain toasted Bagel, hash brown, the fries, a side salad and carrot sticks. Burger King has fries and apple fries as the only things suitable for vegans.

Things to look out for:

  • make sure food is cooked in vegetable oil

Chains with vegan options:

  • Wetherspoons (vegan menu)
  • Wagamama’s (now have a full vegan menu)
  • Pizza Express (two vegan pizzas, one contains vegan mozarella, as well as dough balls and sorbet)
  • Zizzi’s (full vegan menu)
  • Harvester (3 vegan meals – Aubergine & red lentil tagine, Penne arrabiata and Stuffed red pepper)
  • Shakeaway (soy milk& ice cream bases & skittles, party rings, ginger nuts, and more vegan topping options)
  • Taco Bell (Cinnamon twists, chips and guacamole, bean burrito, veggie cantina power bowl no sauce)
  • Starbucks(salad, porridge all dependent on the franchise – now offer a vegan wrap hummus and falafel, soy, oat, almond and coconut milk in their drinks)
  • Costa (vegan fruit crumble snack, salad and soy based drinks)
  • Pizza Hut (salad buffet and their classic base pizza with vegan cheese)
  • Subway (veggie delite sub without cheese, not on the flatbread or the honey oat sub)
  • Nando’s (veggie burgers, pittas and wraps. No dairy!)
  • Yo Sushi (a range of Asian dishes are vegan – Vegetable Gyoza, Pumpkin Katsu, Kaiso Seaweed, Vegetable Chahan, Tofu Katsu Curry)

Tips for Eating Out:

  • Call or email ahead of time. Those restaurants without anything specifically vegan may accommodate you, explain what you do and don’t eat
  • Work events often arranged by colleagues, make sure they know your dietary needs, or contact the restaurant directly if you prefer
  • Look for the labels ‘V’ or ‘VE’ on menus these state which dishes are Vegetarian and Vegan friendly
  • Ask the waiter, or chef if they cook in animal fat, use butter, milk or egg in their process – and ask if it is possible to have it made vegan
  • Don’t be afraid to talk about your food – make it clear what you want, and how you want it cooked.

I hope this guide has helped any issues you may have been experiencing or it will help you avoid being in any awkward situations regarding food. If you have any other questions, or this list needs updating, get in touch; comment below or send me a message. I am happy to help with any queries you may have.


1 Comment

  1. January 15, 2018 / 6:08 PM

    Great post. I remember it being tough when I first went vegan but loads of places have vegan options on their menu now. It’s changed a lot in recent years

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