Staying on Your Plant-Based Diet When Eating Out

When eating out you walk by tables filled with meat or other things you can’t or choose not to have. It seems impossible to find a way to eat but with some creativity and attention-to-detail, it is easy to get the food you want without compromising your diet.

Here’s some of the ways to make eating out easier.

  • If you know where you will be dining, check their menu online in advance of leaving work or home. Scan the menu looking for meals or entrees listed as vegan or vegetarian. Most of the larger chains have a few choices listed on their menu.
  • If you don’t know where you will be dining or are in an area unfamiliar to you, look for types of ethnic food known to be whole food, plant-based, such as Asian, North African, Indian and Mexican. The food from these cultures tend to use a lot of vegetables, beans, rice and whole grains making it easy to put together a lunch or dinner.
  • Also included in a plant-based diet are starches and fruits – a major source of calories as vegetables typically don’t contain many. Tubers, starchy vegetables, whole grains and legumes are all fair game and recommended. If certain ingredients are off limits, be sure to ask how a dish is prepared and ask to withhold any ingredients not on your diet.
  • Another option is to seek out a venue known to have a salad bar; it is always easy to craft a meal from the options available. If none of the above work, choose a couple of plant-based side dishes such as beans and rice for your meal. You can always find salad; most places have at least a side or dinner salad if not a salad choice as a main entrée.
  • If it comes with meat, cheese or egg that you don’t want, ask the waitress to leave these items off. Also if you want a balsamic vinegar-based dressing, ask for it on the side so you can control how much you use. Most restaurants are more than happy to comply with your requests.
  • If stopping in at a specialty place known for a certain food, such as burgers, ask if they have a veggie burger. Many of the chains do as well as the “mom and pop” places.

Eating out while on a plant-based diet is not that difficult – especially now that restaurants are becoming more vegan/vegetarian conscious. Today, it does not mean compromising your diet.

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The History of Vegetarianism Has Many Looking at Plant-Based Diets

A Guide to the History of Vegetarianism

While the term “vegetarianism” is relatively new, Eating primarily a plant-based diet is not new even though the term “vegetarianism” is. It is believed that early humans were more gatherers than hunters.

Supporting their views is that

  • Meat-eaters do not have molars as do humans.
  • Our digestive system more closely resemble other plant-eaters than it does meat-eaters.
  • As to more recent times, humans that frequently eat meat are more of an increased risk for disease than their plant-eating colleagues

We could draw the conclusion from the above that humans were meant to eat plants and not animals.

Up until the mid-1900’s, American ate more vegetables than meat. The meat consumed was done more on a local level due to the fact that without cold storage and efficient distribution yet, it was hard to get the meat to the people without it spoiling. To do so, meat had to be preserved in one of several methods which drove up the price and time to market.

The earliest vegetarian in recorded history was the Greek mathematician Pythagoras. In fact, early vegetarians were called Pythagorians because the word vegetarian had not been created yet. Other well-known names practicing eating primarily plants are Leonardo da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein and George Bernard Shaw. The term “vegetarian” was actually coined by the British Vegetarian Society in the mid-1800’s and comes from a Latin root word that means “source of life”.

A vegetarian diet was first established in the United State with the 1971 release of Frances Moore Lappe’s bestseller “Diet for a Small Planet”. In her book she promoted more meatless meals in an effort to reduce the amount of resources it took to raise animals for food. At that time livestock were consuming 80% of the grain produced in the U.S. Her theory was that if America reduced meat consumption by 10%, there would be enough grain to feed the world.

However, vegetarianism was met with much speculation. The prevailing thought was it was impossible to get enough protein from eating just plant-based products. Through the rest of the 70’s and well into the 80’s, the myths prevailed until the release of John Robbin’s book “Diet for a New America” in 1987. Part 2 of his book restarted the vegetarianism movement when he provided proof how dangerous animal diets were and conversely how safe plant-based ones were.

In the 1990’s several documents were published highlighting the health value of plant-based diets including a paper by the American Dietetic Association endorsing the health benefits of vegetarian diets and the adoption of the Food Pyramid by the U.S. government. It showed Americans should eat mostly grains, fruits, vegetables, beans and less meat.

Food PyramidWhile a few of the myths are still around in limited numbers today, vegetarianism and the newer vegan diet have gained and continue to gain popularity and by all accounts are here to stay.

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