A few years ago, Italian restaurants may have elicited thoughts of paintings of cheese surrounding you—staring at you—and meat-sauce leaking from the pipes above you, with enough prosciutto-scented candles burning to set off the Alfredo-sprinkler system. But that’s just not the case anymore. Today, as more and more people are embracing a compassionate lifestyle than ever before, many Italian restaurants are adding lots of yummy vegan options to the menu!

olive-garden

Olive Garden | Mike Mozart | CC BY 2.0 

Olive Garden When you’re here, you can still be vegan.

This is everything you’ll ever need to know about how to order vegan at Olive Garden:

Appetizers

Start with salad. Yes, the salad at Olive Garden is vegan, but the croutons and dressing it comes with aren’t—and honestly, people in Italy don’t even know wtf “Italian dressing” is. So keep it authentic and animal-free by holding the croutons and topping your salad with oil and vinegar instead. #WhenInRome

Have some breadsticks. The best things in life are free and vegan. Case in point: OLIVE GARDEN’S BREADSTICKS (the garlic topping is made with soy, not dairy foods). Veganize the Bruschetta Caprese by requesting it without cheese. If history teaches us anything, it’s that people are more receptive to info when it (sort of) rhymes, so tell everyone at your table that bruschetta is betta without mozzarella.

Slurp some soup. Olive Garden’s minestrone soup is vegan at all locations now! So you can get the soup, salad, and breadsticks combo like you were born to do.

Get stoked for artichoke. The Artichoke Fritti can easily be made vegan by holding the cheese and aioli sauce. If you want a dipping sauce, just ask for a side of the kids’ tomato sauce.

The Main Course

Pick your pasta. It’s like I always say—the hardest part about being vegan is choosing which type of pasta to order at Olive Garden. … There are SO many options. With capellini, cavatappi, fettuccine, gluten-free rotini, rigatoni, spaghetti, tri-colored vegetable penne, whole-wheat linguine, and ziti to choose from, it can be very difficult to decide. I find that if you listen really closely, your heart will tell you.

Select your sauce. The marinara sauce is the only vegan option, so you get a breather after making the difficult decision about which kind of pasta to get. #PastaSauceJarHalfFull

Eat your veggies. The Garden Primavera comes with basil garlic marinara (not vegan) and a blend of fresh veggies, so all you gotta do is swap the sauce for the kids’ tomato sauce and ask your server for NO CHEESE, PLEASE—and voilà.

Save room for dessert!

Olive Garden doesn’t carry any vegan dessert options, but you can easily swing by your local grocery store for some vegan ice cream on your way home. I find that eating vegan ice cream is the most efficient way to satisfy your sweet tooth, help animals, and save the planet—not too shabby for a dessert.

Once you’re a pro at dining at Olive Garden, broaden your restaurant horizons by learning how to eat vegan at Red Robin, Subway, Chipotle, and everywhere else!

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