The Sad Reason Vegetarians Need To Be Careful At Restaurants

For vegetarians and vegans, dropping animal products from their diet is an empowering, life-changing choice, but one that doesn't come without challenges.

Of course, there are several types of vegetarians. Vegans are the strictest of the lot — they consume no animal products, or byproducts, so fish sauce, mayonnaise, and hollandaise are completely off limits. Some vegetarians eat foods with dairy (lacto vegetarians), others consume eggs (ovo vegetarians), and there are those that stay away from meats, seafood, or fowl but will eat dairy and egg — and these lacto-ovo vegetarians (via Vegetarian Nation).

For all the vegetarians out there, the pain is real when we want to eat out at restaurants, and are navigating an omnivore's world. As bunnyjezus, a vegetarian Redditer who commented on a thread on eating out says, "[it's] finding the courage to ask the waiter if there is xyz animal byproduct in the dish when you know that they won't have the answer offhand, inconveniencing them and making you the 'crazy vegan' in their eyes."

Vegetarians need to explain their dietary choices when they eat at restaurants

Most of the struggle vegetarians encounter when eating at a restaurant involves explaining what they can and cannot eat. Redditer andjok says, "You have to ask about every possible animal ingredient because people don't really think about everything involved. You could say no dairy but then they forget tht [sic] butter is dairy. You could say no meat but they forget about the fish sauce...And sometimes, even if you ask to see the ingredient list and confirm it's vegan, your vegetable soup may come out with cheese sprinkled on top. Ugh."

But finding unintended animal byproducts in your food could be the least of your problems. In a chef's survey, the Food Network says the term "vegetarian" is open to interpretation, because 15 percent of chefs have admitted that their "vegetarian" dishes may not really be vegetarian (we're looking at you, Impossible Whopper). And if you're really squeamish, sorry, but one chef ratted on a cook who seasoned a vegetarian primavera with lamb's blood. 

Given that horrifying anecdote, vegetarians may be better off eating at home, or going to a vegetarian restaurant instead.