Day 3 – First Challenges and Pleasant Surprises

UPDATE! After I posted this, someone from Lafayette, CA “Liked” it. I just wanted to say, Hi person who likes my blog from Lafayette! I’m not trying to be a super creepy stalker or anything, but you are in Lafayette, which coincidentally is where the restaurant I ate at is…So if you would like to procure a glorious vegetable plate like mine pictured above, go to Postino’s Italian Restaurant http://postinorestaurant.com maybe if enough people request vegan offerings, they will add it to their regular menu. Who knows?

Today I was presented with my first small challenges accompanying my new lifestyle. It all started last night… It’s my fiancée’s mom’s b’day today and I was alerted that we were going out to dinner at an italian restaurant. Hmm. Now obviously I’ve documented eating-out vegan for the past three days, but all of the restaurants I’ve visited have been vegan or vegan-friendly. My fears about being a pain in the ass or inconveniencing people because of my dietary choices arose immediately.

Am I going to ruin the party? Am I going to confuse the waiter? Am I going to sit there with an empty plate and make everyone uncomfortable? No need to freak out. I figured out the restaurant name and looked it up on the magical internet.

However, after previewing the online menu, I quickly determined that there was not a single vegan option. Now, at most italian places I could get pasta with marinara or primavera or something-elsa-a. But this is a mega swanky place yo. They make their own pasta in-house. Which means they probably use eggs in their fancy-pants-homemade pasta. What to do? Luckily their fanciness listed a number for the kitchen separate from the reservations line.

I called.

The conversation went something like this…

“Hello”

“Hi! I am coming to eat at your restaurant with a birthday celebration reservation party tomorrow night. This might be a bit of a strange request but I’m a vegan, which means I don’t eat any meat or dairy. Is there any possible way something can be prepared for me?” <– Don’t be intimidated, it’s ok to ask for special stuff. With all the food allergies today, restaurants are used to accommodating special requests.

“So you don’t eat cheese….?” <– I have a feeling I’ll be hearing this a lot….

“Yeah, no cheese, no butter, no cream, or dairy at all” <— When someone seems unsure about what a vegan is, it’s good I think to nicely define what it is.

*Long Pause*  <– Don’t get scared yet, let the poor man think 🙂

“Hmmm…yeaaahhhhh, ummmmm.” *Pause* “Oh! Yeah! We could do a grilled vegetable plate for you, some grilled zucchini, corn….(listed some veggies) — Maybe I can ask the chef if he can prepare anything else…?” <– YAY

“A vegetable plate would be so great! I would really appreciate it! The chef can use all the olive oil or spices he wants for seasoning, just not the butter. Thank you so much!” <–It’s so important to be polite and gracious! I mentioned olive oil so that my vegan request might seem a little less daunting.

*At this point the person on the other end of the phone had regained his composure after shock and horror he experienced upon being told I don’t eat cheese*

“Not a problem at all. Actually, now that I think about it, we’ve done this kind of thing before. Let me just make a note on your reservation that you’re vegan and can’t have dairy” <– Double YAY!  See? You’re not a weirdo!!

“Wow, thank you again, I’ll see you tomorrow” <–Polite, Polite, Polite!

So with that out of the way, I relaxed about dinner. I was a little ambiguous as to what the vegetable plate would be like. I really didn’t have expectations of grandeur, so just to be sure, I ate a little snack before we left. Just in case the vegetable plate turned out to be a single leaf of lettuce or something. It’s good to be prepared, but it turned out I didn’t have to be…

BOOM!!! That’s vegetable glory right there!! Holy shit, I was like “whoa!!!” *Mouth Agape* *Stunned by Vegetable Splendor*. Even my fiancée’s family were like “Wow, that looks great, can I try a bite?”. Everything was amazing, although the peas were the standout winner (and I’m not even a really big pea fan either).

What was best about the experience is that it showed me that being vegan doesn’t have to hold me back from enjoying food anywhere. Yes, it required a tiny bit of prior planning but it was worth it to have a delicious dinner and more importantly, an enjoyable dinner experience where the focus was on my soon to be mother-in-law and her special day and not my dietary choices.

When the waiter took our my order, I just let him know that I called ahead, that I am a vegan (no meat, no dairy), and that the chef said he could make me a grilled vegetable plate. Simple. Moved right on to the next person ordering. What a great night.

 

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