When it comes to any kind of special diet, we all have to learn how to navigate social events and eating out with family and friends. Whether you’re diabetic, have high blood pressure, allergies, or intolerances, it’s important to be as prepared as possible for these various social occasions.
Some social events bring on stress of their own due to the nature of the event (I’m looking at you Thanksgiving), there’s no reason to stress out over your food choices when you’re following a plant-based diet.
Here are tips that have worked for me to navigate social events and holidays.
Eat before you go
You always have the option of eating at home or somewhere else friendly to your diet before heading out to your event. This is especially important if you know you won’t find anything good on the menu or it’s going to be something like a barbeque and the only veggies in sight will be cooked in animal fat. If you eat before you head out, you’ll be more full and less likely to eat the things you don’t want to eat.
Offer to bring a dish
This works especially well if it is a family function, tailgate, or non-restaurant gathering. By bringing your own dish you have total control over what’s in it and you know you’ll be able to at least eat what you bring. For bonus points, bring something to cover each phase of the meal: appetizer, main course, and dessert.
Call ahead to the restaurant
If you already know what restaurant you will be going to, check out their menu online. Many restaurants have indicated on their website which items are vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, etc. But sometimes it’s still tricky to navigate.
Earlier this year we gave my aunt a surprise birthday party at a seafood restaurant. I looked up the menu online but still wasn’t sure of my options. I called and they mentioned a dish I could get when I got there. However, when I got there that option was not available. So I spoke with a manager and he was able to get me a pasta primavera. While it still had oil in it, it was the best I could do right then.
Remember, this isn’t about trying to be perfect, it’s about having fun with your family and friends or doing your networking thing without stressing over food. With that in mind, do the best you can in the situation you’re in.
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