We’ve all been there. You know, that moment when your friends ask you out to dinner at a nonvegan restaurant and your mind goes into panic mode.

Oh my gahhh. What am I going to eat? Will the waiter look at me all weird if I ask about ingredients?

Take a deep breath and listen up, because we’ve got the essential “do’s” and “don’ts” of eating out that’ll get you through this each and every time.

Ready? Here we go:

dos and donts of eating out

DON’T sit at home feeling defeated, thinking you can’t go out to eat ever again. You can! Unless you live in a city with vegan restaurants on every corner, you’ve just gotta suck it up and work with what you’ve got.

DO check out the HappyCow app. If you don’t have any vegan or vegetarian restaurants in your area, this rad app can at least help you find vegan-friendly restaurants in your area.


DON’T go into an unfamiliar restaurant unprepared. Let’s be honest—the most stressful part of a new place is scouring an uncharted menu. The good news? It’s totally avoidable.

DO be prepared! Check the menu online to see what your options are, call ahead to check on questionable ingredients, or try the HappyCow app or peta2’s Vegan Life section to see if the restaurant is already vegan-friendly.


DON’T harass the waiter about miniscule animal ingredients. You may be asking, “Are there any monoglycerides in the hamburger bun?” but what your waiter and your friends are actually hearing is “Being vegan is hard. Oh, and vegans are annoying as hell.”

DO take one for the team. Sure, cross-contamination or the possibly animal-derived “xyz” in that hamburger bun may be gross, but you’re sending the message to your friends that being vegan is hard, meaning that you’re actually hurting animals instead of helping them on this one. Remember: Being vegan isn’t about purity—it’s about reducing animal suffering.

dos and donts of eating out

DON’T be that vegan who orders boring, plain food while everyone else eats “normal” food.

DO veganize, veganize, veganize! Most restaurants these days have vegan-friendly pasta dishes, delish salads, and veggie plates on the menu, and lots even have an entire menu section dedicated to vegetarian dishes that are easy enough to veganize (just nix the eggs and dairy products!).

dos and donts of eating out

DON’T be rude if the waiter gets your order wrong and accidentally brings out a cheese-coated disaster. Snapping at the waiter sends the universal message that all vegans are, well, assholes (and we’re not!).

DO BE NICE. Sometimes, waiters make mistakes, but there’s a kind, sassy-free way to handle these types of situations. Remember that often times, you may be the first vegan most people have come into contact with, so if you come across as rude and demanding, folks will assume that we’re all that way—and again, we’re not!

See? Eating out at nonvegan restaurants doesn’t have to involve a full-scale freak-out. Follow the easy steps above, and you’ll be golden (and you may even convince your friends to go vegan in the meantime—bonus!).

If you’re more of the dining-in type of person, sign up for FREE vegan recipes below, and whip up something delish in the comfort of your own home instead. 🙂

All fields in bold are mandatory.

FormBuilder Form - 2828
All fields in bold are mandatory.
First name
Last name
Date of Birth (mm/dd/yyyy)
Get peta2 texts for info on contests, local events, & ways to help animals.
Tel. (mobile)
I agree to the texting T&Cs. Message and data rates may apply.
Please sign me up for peta2's News. Current subscribers: You will continue to receive e-mail unless you explicitly opt out by clicking here
Please sign me up for peta2's Recipe of the Week News. Current subscribers: You will continue to receive e-mail unless you explicitly opt out by clicking here