How to Eat Out and Order Raw Food in Normal Restaurants
It’s not easy to find 100% raw food when you are out and about, in restaurants, at a friend’s house or traveling. You may be in situations where you do not have easy access to raw foods or any healthy food at all. Without a plan, you may be tempted to eat the wrong foods that you know aren’t good for you. Don’t worry! The longer you lead a healthy, vegan and/or raw food diet, the easier these things become. When you go out, simply be prepared to either bring your own raw foods and/or order off the menu.
Rule Number 1: Don’t be Afraid to Order Off the MenuBut the real key to this rule is: don’t make it a big deal either. As for ordering off the menu, remember that you are paying for the food and it is ok to ask for what you want. But, at the same time, you don’t need to announce your ‘perfect rawness’ to the waiter and everyone in your party in such a way that other people will feel bad for ordering cooked food (or even worse, meat and dairy!). After I scan the menu, I will usually excuse myself to go to the toilet and I will discuss my requests with the waiter or manager privately. That way, my requests don’t disturb the rest of the group (especially if I’m with people I don’t know very well, for example friends of friends, etc.).
In my experience, the worst thing to do is to say something like, ‘well I eat only raw vegan food and there is nothing for me here.’ Comments like that will only isolate you from your non-raw food friends and family and does not make for a pleasant start of a happy, peaceful meal.
If, for any reason, I cannot order anything in a restaurant (which is very rare unless it is Indian food where everything is already cooked and in that case, I would prefer to choose another type of restaurant), I simply order herbal tea and explain that I had a late lunch and I’m not hungry. For me, this is a normal way of life and I would much rather skip a meal than eat something I don’t want. I am more than happy to wait until I’m back at home to make a salad or smoothie that I really enjoy!
Rule Number 2: Bring Spices, Fresh Herbs, Nuts or Seeds to make any Salad taste GreatWhen I go out, I always bring a small container of cayenne pepper, some nutritional yeast and a good quality sea salt. Sometimes I will also bring a small bottle of Bragg’s Lquid Amino Acids or Raw Apple Cider Vinegar. Occasionally I will bring fresh herbs (dill, parsley, or basil), raw nuts (like walnuts), and cherry tomatoes. That way, I always have something easy to transport and healthy and tasty to add to any salad.
When I look at a menu, I try to find all the veggies. Then I ask the waiter if they can make me a special salad made from whatever veggies I find – say broccoli, tomato, carrot, spinach, beetroot, and sun dried tomato as an example. I explain that I am happy to pay more for an entree-sized portion. I specify ‘nothing cooked, just raw and chopped’ and I may ask for some fresh chopped garlic and olive oil on the side. I tell them ‘no salad dressing, no soy sauce.’ When the salad arrives, I add my own extra spices and voila! Most of the time I get something very nice. And, many times, people with me wish they had ordered it too!
If a restaurant has vegetables on their menu, they can surely make you a salad, so it is always worth asking for what you really want!
Rule Number 3: Bring Your Own Salad
If I am invited to someone’s house for a party or dinner, I always offer to bring the salad. Usually I will bring 2 or 3 salads to really give people a nice intro to raw foods (what better way to get people excited about raw food!). And the good thing about that is there is always plenty of food for me to eat too!
Over the years or being raw, I have discovered that it can be too difficult and stressful for other people to try and accommodate my eating habits, so I don’t say anything about my food requirements when invited to a party. I’ve seen people, in their best efforts, make me a salad with commercial salad dressing already added, or swearing that something has no MSG when it does, and every other mishap in between so I have long learned that it is simply easier for everyone if I bring my own. People who know me personally of course know that I will bring yummy salads and they usually look forward to seeing what new creations I have to share!