Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Dining Vegan With Other Cultures

When it comes to healthy eating, American cuisine is not where it’s at. All you have to do is look at the native people of China, Japan and India to realize that you have to venture outside our typical diet and explore cultures who naturally follow a whole-food, plant-based diet. When it comes to dining out, you are going to have greater success at an ethnic restaurant than you ever will at say Outback or Fridays when trying to keep it vegan.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:


You can’t go wrong with vegan sushi, don’t be afraid of the seaweed salad (I love it!), and always go for steamed rice (brown rice is better) with a side of steamed broccoli/veggies. Try some miso soup; make sure the broth is not animal based. Confirm that the veggie egg roll wrappers don’t contain egg (many do). Check out Seoul Garden – Parma’s not just about pierogis, we’ve got the best Korean joint in Northeast Cleveland! My go-to dish is Bi Bim Bop, a traditional Korean dish served in a hot stone, with rice, finely julienned veggies and mushrooms, just be sure to request no egg.


Traditional Greek cooking is based on fresh seasonal vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, herbs, spices, and olive oil (no one’s perfect) - great for vegans! Go for hummus, baba ghanoush, falafel, spanakorizo (spinach & rice casserole), yemista me ryzi (meatless stuffed vegetables), dolmades (grape leaves stuffed with rice and herbs), fassolakia freska me domata (green bean & tomato casserole). Just make sure none of these dishes contain dairy.


Indian cuisine tends to put veggies in the spot light, making these types of restaurants a safe haven for vegetarians. However, Indian food can rely on a lot of dairy (ghee is butter & paneer is cottage cheese) so ask lots of questions. Seek out dishes with lentils and beans, chana (chickpeas), bhindi (okra), naan (flatbread – verify no dairy). Most dishes are served with rice. Try Cuisine of India in Parma one evening.



Pure and simple pasta and sauce, just ask if the pasta contains egg, most fresh pastas do. Who can say no to pizza? Omit the cheese, double the sauce, load up the veggies (peppers, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, fresh garlic, jalapeƱos, etc.)!


The heart-healthy Mediterranean diet emphasizes healthy fats, legumes, fruits and vegetables and olive oil. It’s actually because of the focus on fruits and vegetables that makes this diet heart-healthy, not the inclusion of olive oil. Check out Aladdin’s Eatery – opt for veggies and hummus, an array of vegan pita wraps and soups/chili’s or my favorite – Jasmine’s Favorite: steamed rice, beans, potatoes and an array of herbs.


No, not Taco Bell - you need an authentic Mexican restaurant to have it your way. Go for veggie fajitas, tacos or burritos! Ask if the refried beans were cooked in lard. Most restaurants make their refried beans from scratch, which means they have whole beans – ask for those instead. Don't forget the guacamole & fresh salsa!


Lots of veggies, rice and noodle dishes – confirm there is no fish sauce in your dish; these restaurants tend to add this to everything and forget this is not a vegan ingredient. Plenty of tofu here!

Keep it Healthy!

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