"If you look for lack, that's what you'll find. If you look for abundance, that's what you'll discover."
Eating out as a vegan can be challenging. Especially in a country like Australia where a culture of 'meat-eating' still lives strong. Although most restaurants offer salads and other vegetarian dishes, there generally aren't many (if any) vegan options on the menu. Personally I don't find this so much as a problem since I don't eat out very often. I do realise, however, that for some people the social aspect, or rather the difficulty of it, is one of the reasons why they think they couldn't follow a vegan diet.
Last night, we went out for dinner with my fiancé's parents and their family friend. I had booked a restaurant (there aren't many in my area to choose from) and called in advance to ask whether they had any vegan options on the menu or whether they were able to make something for me off the menu. The restaurant staff was extremely helpful and friendly and said the chef will be able to accommodate my request. To be honest, I wasn't expecting more than a bowl of lettuce and that's pretty much what I ended up having. Rather than complaining about my creative-less dish, I remained positive and friendly and I hope my attitude helped others to understand what it means to be vegan. Plus who knows, if there will be enough vegan requests, maybe the restaurant will actually add a vegan dish on the menu permanently.
In last night's case, I was also prepared by eating something at home before dinner. I had made this cabbage and chickpea salad with grilled portobello mushrooms that will most definitely be my stand-by salad from now on. I adore portobello mushrooms - they are so incredibly juicy and 'meaty' and perfect for marinating and grilling. I love the crunchy cabbage and toasted walnuts with the softness of chickpeas and mushrooms with a tangy dressing of olive oil, apple cider vinegar and mustard. It was perfect!
Cabbage and chickpea salad with grilled portobello mushrooms
3-4 portobello mushrooms
pinch of chilli flakes
1 garlic clove
1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 small red cabbage
1/4 small green cabbage
2 green shallots
200g cooked chickpeas
3-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1. Preheat the oven to 180C and line a baking tray with baking paper. Clean the mushrooms and remove the stalks. Combine one or two tablespoons of olive oil with one grated clove of garlic and a pinch of chilli flakes. Brush the mushrooms with the oil and bake for 10-15 minutes or until just tender.
2. Finely slice the cabbages and shallots and place in a large mixing bowl. Lightly toast the walnuts in a dry pan and add into the salad. Also add in the chickpeas and toss to mix. Whisk the dressing ingredients together and toss into the salad.
3. Cut the mushrooms in thick slices and arrange on top of the salad. Serve immediately.
More tips on eating out as a vegan can be found in Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's new book
"The 30-Day Vegan Challenge"