You Should Think Twice Before Ordering Vegetarian Dishes At Restaurants

Agrinews reports that plant-based eating has been rising in popularity over the last few years, so going out to eat as a vegetarian or vegan isn't what it used to be. Gone are the days of being relegated to ordering sad side salads or trying to cobble together what could hardly be called a meal out of assorted veggie side dishes. Now, nearly all restaurants offer at least a handful of delicious meatless main dishes, whether it's eggplant Parmesan or a Beyond Burger. 

But before you get too excited — and before you order all of the mouthwatering plant-based options on the menu — you might want to reconsider. According to professional chefs, vegetarian or vegan dishes are some of the worst things you can order at a restaurant. Shocked? We were, too, especially given that we tend to think of plant-based meals as healthier, or at least more veggie-packed. But the reason why you might want to avoid them actually has nothing to do with their nutrition. Rather, it's their ingredients.

Just because it's labeled 'vegetarian' doesn't mean it is

As posted on its website, the Food Network surveyed chefs across the country anonymously to find out some of their best-kept secrets. One that will be especially concerning to vegetarians and vegans alike? About 15 percent of chefs who responded said that their vegetarian dishes may or may not actually be free of animal products. To make things worse, one chef admitted he had seen another chef pour lamb's blood into what was being marketed as a vegan primavera. Yuck.

There are also some dishes that might sound vegetarian but include animal products. For instance, Huffington Post reports that Cracker Barrel's corn muffins contain bacon drippings, even though it isn't mentioned on the menu. Your best bet for ordering something completely plant-based? Make sure the server knows about your dietary restrictions. While this doesn't guarantee you'll get a vegetarian or vegan dish, it does improve your chances, as they might know which options are totally free of animal products.