For many people who eat a vegetarian whole food diet, the most difficult aspect of the diet is the social one. They do fine when they are eating at home or with their family. The trouble comes when they eat out, go to a party, or eat anywhere where they are not in control of their food. Many people find that when they eat a vegetarian diet they eat out less frequently, but most people still eat out with friends or relatives on a regular basis. With that in mind, here are some tips for eating out when you are focusing on a whole food vegetarian diet.
At many restaurants, the most obvious choice for a vegetarian or someone eating a whole foods diet is the salad. Most restaurants offer at least a few choices of salad. Some places even offer an extensive salad bar where you can add your own toppings to a salad that you construct. This is an excellent option since it typically allows you to eat as much salad as you want for a predetermined price. Often ordering a large salad instead of the small one will provide you with enough produce to fill you up. If you are concerned about what is in the dressing then try ordering oil and vinegar or simple lemon juice. Either of these is a delicious salad dressing without any chemicals.
If you just don't feel like eating another salad, you do have other options. Even if you don't find them in the main entrees, you might have better luck with the appetizer or healthy choice menu. There you might find a fruit plate, rice pilaf, or even a veggie platter. With some creativity you should be able to put together a small meal even if you have to eat again when you get home.
If none of these options are what you are looking for, then it's time to ask for some help. Ask the waiter if there is a vegetarian menu available. Alternatively, see if a simple entrée can have the meat eliminated. You might be able to get pasta with a marinara sauce and no meat, or a rice and vegetable dish without the chicken. The key to making this work is to be very clear about what you want. If you are ordering this way be sure to check your dish when it arrives to be certain that it is what you asked for.
If all of these options fail, then you can always choose to relax your standards for just one meal. If you are eating a diet that focuses on whole foods then one meal of indulging will not set you too far off course. In this case, try to order something vegetarian that is healthy even if it does not fit in with your usual strict standards. If this doesn't sit well with you then obviously you shouldn't do it, but in most cases there is nothing wrong with giving yourself a meal off from your diet every once in a while.