I would say I moonlight as a vegan, but I more-so daylight as a vegan.
Like most people who use up most of their willpower to get out of bed in the morning, I tend to be more conscientious about my food choices and meal selection throughout traditional waking hours.
That said, when the full moon rises, all bets are off. In fact, my habit of ordering buffalo wings in the wee hours became so notorious during my time living behind Pizza Mamba in Ocean City that I enjoyed text-to-order status with their closing manager for the better part of 2013. Reach for the stars, kids.
So, no; I’m not in the vegan club. I probably never will be. I’ve never felt particularly good after consuming animal products and I do my best to avoid eating them, however, vegans are one tribe that don’t appreciate a gray area.
Here is another thing I know to be true: lunch is a day maker or a dealbreaker. While many of us harbor complicated and varied relationships with breakfast, mid-day meals are more mainstream, and often come with a plethora of very healthy and very unhealthy options. For me, lunch usually comes in two forms: a twenty-minute dash to select something I can order, pick-up and attempt to consume before the next conference call, or, a choice made during a weekend fog where I slept through all acceptable breakfast hours and am not mentally, physically, financially or spiritually equipped for brunch. I hope that my suggestions below will help you eat a little cleaner at the places you’re already visiting — it’s a lot easier to adjust current habits than initiate new ones entirely.
Make Anything Vegan: My Top Three Tips
- Find the hidden cow. Unfortunately, cow products are a lot harder to find than actual cows, and asking for “no cheese” doesn’t always cut it. Pay close attention to sauces and dressings, and ask for them on the side when possible.
- Order online whenever possible. Is there anything more stressful than a long line, teenage cashier and complicated order? Instead, order everything exactly how you’d like it using the restaurant’s app or online ordering system. Plus, you’ll likely be automatically entered to begin receiving loyalty rewards and endless emails about God only knows after your first order. Who writes those emails, anyway?! 🤔
- Think about adding volume. This is an easy one: double up on greens! They fill you up and absorb the flavor of whatever you’re eating, with no caloric cost.
What to order: Start with Supergreens, then add Cava’s winter veggie medley, harissa, roasted red pepper hummus, kalamata olives, banana peppers, Lemon Herb Tahini Dressing, and a lemon. Pita optional, though their fried pita chips are highly endorsed by VTNF.
What to order: I start by asking for a Mexican Caesar. From there, I swap the chicken for avocado, and cheese for corn. Request Mexican Goddess dressing, salt and pepper when it comes time for mixing, and transfer to a bowl that compliments your bedspread for maximum enjoyment.
What to order: the Veggie Sandwich. Top with hot sauce if you’re feeling adventurous, or fries if you’re feeling hungover. Fun fact: Five Guys cooks everything in peanut oil, so this is actually super vegan!
What to order: The Kimchi-Wa, without yogurt and with an avocado half. Beware that the greek yogurt is added to the base, so you’ll need to request they hold it from the get-go. I really, really love this place, and if you’re not familiar with the work Jose Andres is doing in Puerto Rico, I seriously recommend reading up — it’s awesome, inspiring and could change the role corporations currently play in disaster relief.
What to order: avocado spring roll sushi with mochi dessert. Spoiler alert: the best part is the dairy-free, coconut-based mochi, however, I really do love the peanut dipping sauce and liberal avocado portions included with the sushi!
Bonus Roud! Chipotle
What to order: Sofritas burrito. Ask for white rice, fajita veggies, Sofritas, mild and medium salsa, corn, guacamole, and extra lettuce if you’re a total freak like me. Top off with Diet Coke.
🙌🍔🙌 Ready to order? Head over to Postmates and use code 1DLU4 for a $100 delivery credit. (First timers, only 😉)
Want more? Read what got me going dairy-free in the first place here.