Saturday, September 10, 2011

Kicking it Vegan Style at the Red Lobster

Admittedly, I was a bit concerned when my mother announced that she wanted to dine at the Red Lobster for her birthday.

While I would never tell someone how to celebrate their birthday (I celebrate my own birthday for the entire month, after all), I shamefully attempted to covertly persuade her into eating at a more vegan-friendly establishment.

Alas, once my mother makes up her mind, it is what it is (hmmm, guess I know where I got it from).

Ok, no problem - I decided to take this experience on as a challenge and it really did test every bit of vegan know-how I have.

The Plan...

First I scanned the menu.  Every soup was dairy based, that's out!  Two types of salad - Caesar and Garden - both side salads and nothing to write home about. How about pasta?!? No dice, a Fettucine Alfredo was the only option.  I started dissecting main meals to pull out the veggie sides - I developed a starting point.

Next, I asked for the Allergy Menu.  While I had hoped this would bring some dishes not on the main menu, it did not.  What it did do was list each menu item and indicate thoses with wheat/gluten, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, dairy and soy.  By utilizing this guide and a very knowledgeable waitress, I was able to create my own vegan, oil-free meal.

The Meal...

In order to be filling, I knew I had to ground my meal in grains and starch.  So I ordered a dry baked potato (nothing on it) and the rice pilaf (confirming it was not cooked with butter or oil).  To that I added two servings of broccoli and asparagus, also dry.  To liven things up, I ordered several sides of the Peach Bourbon BBQ sauce that came with a shrimp dinner.  Lastly, I requested one large plate. Once everything arrived, I chopped it all up, stirred it all together and topped with sea salt.  Luckily my sauce had been forgotten and to my surprise my concoction didn't need any sauce help at all.  In fact, once it did arrive, I found the sauce too spicy for my liking.

I found this meal so filling, I wasn't even disappointed that there were no vegan dessert options - I was too stuffed!

The Life Lesson...

Do I want to relive this meal anytime soon - no, it wasn't that great.  But for an evening that was all about someone else, it was a fantastic meal.  After all, my mother didn't complain when I decided to celebrate my birthday at an all-Vegan restaurant.  The moral of this story is that you can't impose your lifestyle choices on others, but that doesn't mean you have to forgo them either.

With a little bit of research and negotiating with the restaurant staff, I was able to get exactly what I needed to maintain my eating habits and the rest of the party got exactly what they wanted - everybody wins!

Don't compromise, improvise!
The Hoff


  1. loooove this!

    Don't compromise, improvise!

  2. i would have just asked for bourbon (hold the peach and BBQ sauce) and called it a wash, but i'm a quitter like that. you=1 craptacular menu=0

  3. So you know i work at red lobster and i am vegan...the rice has chicken stock the veggies are all cooked in butter. Not a vegan friendly place at all. However you can order the veggies plain but the rice is made with chicken stock. You can order the pasta with a marinara sauce but I'm pretty sure the noodles are made with eggs and milk.

  4. UGH! Good to know - Red Lobster is off the list!