Real World Tips for Going Vegan

salad-healthy-diet-spinach-mediumThis is advice for those of you who are new to veganism or plant-based eating. I take it an extra step and omit oil, avocado and nuts because I am on the Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Diet by Dr. Esselstyn.  I do not stray from it so it takes some planning but the results have been worth it. I have dropped my cholesterol 100 points in a year and I have lost 20 pounds.

Going to Someone’s House Scenario 1

If you have civilized friends or family you can have this conversation when you are invited to someone’s home.

You: I have some serious dietary restrictions so I’ll just bring my own food, but I’d love your company. Let me know when you decide on your menu and I will bring something like that so it’s not so obvious.

Friend variation 1: Don’t be ridiculous. Tell me what you can eat and I’ll make something.

Friend variation 2 (lazy friend): Fine. And bring a bottle of wine while you’re at it.

You to Friend 1: It’s a little much, so let me know if you just want me to bring something.

Friend 1: Absolutely not. What can you eat?

You: Well, I’m a vegan, which means no meat, eggs, dairy, fish; nothing with a face or mother, or came from something with a face or a mother. I also do not eat oil. An easy thing is pasta (that doesn’t contain egg such as quinoa pasta) and vegetables sautéed in white wine or a plain baked potato and salad without dressing.

Friend 1: Aren’t you a pain in the ass? Okay, no problem. I will make you some pasta and a salad without oil.

Going to Someone’s House Scenario 2

If you have family like mine, good luck. Expect this conversation. Fill in with your family’s nationality/gesticulations and specific obtuseness.jewish mother

Me at my 80 year old Jewish Aunt’s house. We are all sitting around the table for brunch. I brought bagels because I knew I could eat one in a pinch.

Aunt: Lauren, have some cream cheese on that bagel.

Me: It’s okay, I’ll just have a bagel and fruit. I’m a vegan, I don’t eat any meat or dairy.

Aunt: So fine, schmear a little egg salad on your bagel.

Me: I can’t.

Aunt to her 93 year old hard of hearing husband: I don’t understand. Do you? She won’t eat.

Uncle: What?

Aunt: She won’t eat any eggs, meat or dairy. She’s gonna get the “diabetus” from the way she eats.

Uncle: Fine, have some tuna fish. Delores made it, it’s delicious.

Me: I can’t. I’m really fine with this bagel and fruit. I ate earlier (even though I didn’t).

Delores, their housekeeper extraordinaire brings over a jar of jelly, winks and whispers not to bother.

My aunt to Delores: Please make her some macaroni and cheese, she doesn’t eat any meat, eggs or dairy. Don’t ask me what she does eat, because I couldn’t tell you. Look how skinny her tuchus is (I assure you it is not).

Me: Please don’t. I can’t eat it. I’m fine.

Aunt: I don’t understand. Do you want any cream in your coffee?

Repeat general conversation for the next twenty minutes while everyone eats, offers you food you can’t have and shakes their head. Try several times to steer the conversation away from your eating habits. Fail.

Aunt: Do you want some cheesecake for dessert?

Me: Yes. Put the dessert on plate. Move it around a little. Go home and take a nap from exhaustion.

Real Life Tips:

Have some things to suggest if people really do want to cook for you:

  • Quinoa pasta with fat free marina from a jar or veggies sautéed in white wine
  • Plain baked potato with salsa and a salad with vinegar, lemons or limes
  • Veggie chili

Bring an appetizer:

Spinach artichoke dip made with white beans or tofu instead of dairy spinach dip

Salsa and “chips” which are just organic corn tortillas baked in the oven and broken into pieces


Bring your own food:

A veggie burger packs up well (I buy the Engine 2 Black bean poblano burgers) and baked “fries” which are just cut up potatoes sprinkled with spices, cooked on a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper, in the oven at 425 degrees.



Author: Lauren

Plant-based educator and speaker

6 thoughts on “Real World Tips for Going Vegan”

  1. Great post! I am trying to go all raw and I am dreading going to other people’s houses and telling them and explaining myself. I will definitely adapt your tips to my lifestyle. Thank you!

    1. Erik, I bring my food everywhere. I even bring it to restaurants if I’m going out with a group and I know I probably won’t be able to eat. I usually just ask for an extra plate and put my food on it when the waiter isn’t looking. If they say something I just explain that I have a lot of restrictions. It has never been a problem. Good luck!

  2. Haaaaaahaaaaa…I’m giggling away. So funny and so true. Love it!

    Ps- I need to change our lunch meet up (school stuff, ya know). Does the 13th work for you?

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. Brilliant post Lauren, I am still chuckling….I would have loved to have been at your family gathering, sitting around that table…Shame ! We as a family are heading for the vegan way more and more (hubby is getting there slowly) but even just ‘vegetarian’ is a mission with people, so I just arrange to take a few dishes myself for whoever wants to eat them at family or friends 🙂

    1. Good for you, Lynne. My husband will never go fully vegan, but he eats a good amount of vegan things. I’m sure you are influencing your friends when you bring a delicious vegetarian dish.

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