Sunday, 17 April 2016

EATING OUT AS A VEGAN: MY FAVOURITE CHAIN RESTAURANTS

Hi lovelies! Today, I have a bit of a different post as I was forever searching this sort of thing when I first starting switching over to a vegan lifestyle. As some of you may know, I have recently adopted a plant based diet and am in the process of using up all my products to switch out for 100% cruelty free (that's a topic for another post!) and while I'd never say it's difficult, it is definitely a huge learning experience and does pose challenges when it comes to eating out. Cooking your own meals at home is easy as you know what's going in it and where it comes from, but eating out can be tricky. Can be. See, often when I tell people now that I'm vegan I get 'Oh.. what do you eat?!', but actually when you know what to look out for and you're not afraid to ask for a menu to be switched up a little, there can be vegan options almost anywhere. So, today, I wanted to share with you all my favourite 'go to' chain restaurants with vegan options, or options that can easily be made vegan. This is by no means a list of the only chain restaurants you can go to and I'm sure there's loads I won't mention, so if you have a personal favourite, definitely let me know in the comments!

Bill's 
First up is Bill's, they've recently opened a Bill's in my town and I really love it here as while the menu isn't huge, there are a few really great vegan options. Something I really like about Bill's (and any other restaurant that does the same!) is that on their menu they have 'v' for vegetarian and 've' for vegan, I think this is great as it makes it super clear. For a starter, I love the Potato and Rosemary Bread, but my favourite is the Hummus with Piadina Bread, if you like hummus you have to try this! As for mains, they have a couple of options, the Superfood Kale Salad is great and is vegan by default, however my favourite is the Beetroot and Falafel salad. While this is just vegetarian as it's supposed to come with goat's cheese, it can be made vegan by simply omitting the cheese. This is so yummy, if you love falafel, lentils, beets and squash, you'll love this! As for deserts, like with many restaurants, you will struggle. However if I'm with someone who's getting a desert, I'll get their Green Smoothie or a juice. They do a Carrot, Apple and Ginger juice and a Watermelon, Peach and Raspberry juice and while all of these options are lovely, the smoothie is hands down my favourite!

Nando's
Who doesn't love a Nando's? Even prior to going fully vegan, despite loving Nando's, I'd rarely go for the chicken as I was always funny about meat and so I'd actually already tried their veggie options. My favourite vegan option hands down is the veggie burger, which is made with tomatoes and soya. You must specify no mayo though, as this isn't a default vegan option. They also do some lovely salads, but again, you need to specify no cheese/ chicken! Nando's actually do do a vegan desert in the form of their passion fruit gelado. I haven't had this myself, but it's definitely worth a try!
Something I'd like to comment on is the fact that many vegans don't like to eat at restaurants that so all about meat like Nando's is, however I think it's really important to create a demand for vegan options at places like this, so I have no issue with this.


Zizzi
My favourite. Hands. Down. And let me tell you why in three four words. Cheesy Fucking Vegan Pizza. Bonus for those with soya allergies, the 'MozzaRisella' 'cheese' is made with Rice Milk! Zizzi's is the first UK chain restaurant to even offer a cheesey vegan pizza and for that, they'll always hold a special place in my heart (and not my arteries, yay!). The pizza tastes amazing and really quite cheesy despite it being a non dairy cheese. It also looks the same as everyone elses so you don't feel like the 'token vegan' at the table! (Though I have no problem with this title). As for deserts, though I said you may struggle, this is not the case here. They have not just one but three vegan gelato options for desert, coconut with a mango swirl, lemon sorbet and strawberry sorbet. All three are seriously yummy but the strawberry is hands down my favourite, it tastes like strawberry starbursts (which, side note, are also vegan. Fun fact.) so if you love super sweet things, you need to try this. The gelato deserts come with 3 scoops and you can have one of each, but I definitely recommend doing as they're all sooo good!

Pizza Express
Pizza Express doesn't do a vegan cheese option at the moment (I'm sure they'll catch up now Zizzi's have taken the vegan pizza crown), however all their pizza bases are vegan, so you can pretty much just order any pizza without cheese and choose whatever toppings you like. They do have a vegan pizza option on the menu in the form of their 'Pinata' Pizza, which comes topped with tomato sauce, spinach, mushrooms, pine kernels, chilli flakes and rocket with garlic oil. Plenty of flavour and no cheese! They also do a Superfood Salad which you can ask for with no cheese (but as you're eating out, why not go for the pizza?!) As for starters and deserts, the dough balls themselves are vegan, you can just substitute the garlic butter for garlic oil instead. They also do a yummy raspberry sorbet for desert which is vegan, so no need to miss out.


Wetherspoons
Not the most obvious choice, but there's a Wetherspoon on almost every high street so it's nice to know you have options. As far as I know, you need to check your own menu at your local restaurant but I know for sure the Sweet Potato and Chickpea curry is vegan and it's seriously good! It does come with a naan bread as you can see, which unfortunately isn't vegan (I just kept mine in the picture as it looked a bit empty on the plate without! I give mine to whoever I'm with at the time!) but you can order with extra poppadoms instead! If you fancy a side dish, their chips are vegan as are the vegetable samosas and onion bhajis. You can always alter dishes to make them vegan - just don't be afraid to ask!

So those are just a few of my favourite places to eat out as a vegan! I've actually really enjoyed writing (and researching!) this post, so if you'd like another or have any suggestions for future posts on this topic, I'd love to hear your thoughts! Happy eating!

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