Plant-Based Pause No 26: Make A Meal Out Of Sides

In November 2011, I made the decision to progress towards a plant-based diet and lifestyle. Since then, I have learnt so much about where our food comes from, and what it does to our bodies and the environment. Along the way, I have encountered many obstacles and challenges. I have also been asked lots of questions, most of them valid and a few off them more than a little odd. One of the aims of my blog is to chronicle my experiences as a plant-based traveller. So, hopefully these Plant-Based Pauses will provide a little more explanation and maybe answer some questions that my readers may still have.

‘The obstacle is the path.’ – Zen Aphorism

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Whenever I arrange to eat out with omnivore friends in a ‘regular’ restaurant, panic ensues. Not from me, however, but from my fellow diners. ‘But what will you eat?’ they ask.
Obviously, a restaurant doesn’t have to be classed as ‘vegan’ to serve plant-based food. A lot of mainstream eateries have suitable dishes on the menu. Or, at the very least, a dish that can easily be converted. However, there are some out there that don’t. Have no fear, though, this does not condemn you to an evening sat in the car park with a take-out bag of chips.
My simple trick in these situations is to make a meal out of sides. Even the most meat-heavy restaurants that I’ve eaten in have plenty of vegetarian and vegan sides on offer. They may not look very appetising on their own, but combine a baked potato with a portion and vegetables and a side salad and you’ve got a pretty decent plate.
Be warned when using this tactic, though. It has on many occasions confused the waiting staff. Be prepared for ‘I only have 13 mains, and there are 14 of you’.
I’m not trying to convince you that choosing from side dishes is the most interesting choice, and I wouldn’t like to do it on a regular basis, but it comes in useful when I find myself in certain situations. There are of course many, many amazing restaurants out there that go more than out of their way to cater to us plant eaters, and we’ll discuss those another week.

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