There are some people in my life who struggle with committing to the vegan lifestyle . It's not so much because they hated giving up meat; it's more about the fact that they found veganism to be a little bland and inconvenient. A great example they would give me is the thought of eating out became so frustrating that, more times than not, they'd just stay at home.
If you're someone who is nodding your head in agreement, then this article is personally dedicated to you. Choose to see it like a cheat sheet for vegans who want to dine out. My hope is that it will provide you with enough tips that will motivate you to check out some new places, make specific requests and embrace the fact that, just because you don't eat meat, that doesn't mean that you still can't have a ball while eating out.
If You’re a New Vegan, Know What You Shouldn’t Be Eating
I'd venture to say that one of the best things about becoming a vegan is, since you're probably more sensitive about your diet, you're more comfortable cooking at home; that way, you can know exactly what is—and what isn't—going into your meals. But if you've recently decided to give veganism a shot, you like going out to eat but you're nervous about what to order, let's start with the things that are a no-no. Meat (including anything seafood-related) is a given, but remember that vegans avoid all animal products, including dairy. This means no milk, butter, cream or cheese. This also means no eggs. Or gelatin (it comes from collagen that is produced by animals) or even bee products; this means no honey.
What's up with the whole bee thing? Well, passionate vegans feel that to consume anything that bees make is a form of exploitation because bees actually make honey for themselves, not us. Yeah, that might sound a little over the top, but don't shoot the messenger. If you want to read more about this, check out this article , this article and this article .
Then Focus on What You Can Eat
I know, right? That sure is a lot of stuff that you have to overlook on a restaurant menu.
The silver lining is, think about all of the other things that are left—fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, mushrooms, pulses (like chickpeas and lentils), herbs, spices, oils, vinegars, condiments and plants (like seaweed).
If you really let this list sink in, that still leaves literally hundreds of possibilities.
Check Out a Restaurant’s Online Menu
I don't know about you, but nothing irks me more than making plans to meet a friend at a restaurant, hopping online to Google the eatery's website and either it doesn't have one or their site is down. First impressions are important so, more times than not, that will automatically make me want to take a pass. An online menu is not only good marketing for the restaurant and convenient for their customers, it can take a lot of guesswork out for vegetarians and vegans. These days, many restaurant owners are well aware that their business can't truly thrive without some great vegetarian and vegan options. So, definitely look online before heading out to see if the restaurant you're considering has dishes that you're actually interested in.
Or, Feel Free to Call Ahead
Unfortunately, a lot of us update our personal websites more often than businesses update theirs. That's why, if you can't seem to find what you are looking for on a particular restaurant's site, you should call ahead. Another benefit that comes with taking this extra step is you can ask if there are any new or specialty vegan items that might not currently be on the menu, along with if the chefs are willing to customize certain dishes. That way, you can know exactly what you are getting yourself into before you arrive.
Consider More Ethnic Cuisine
A lot of Americans continue to be big time meat consumers; that's a part of the reason why so many restaurants have a ton of meat options but oftentimes limited vegan and vegetarian ones. That's the bad news. The good news is many Indian, Mexican, Thai and West African (which is a big 2020 food trend) restaurants have some really delicious dishes that contain absolutely no meat. When you think about it, that can be another benefit of going vegan—you can try different foods from other cultures. Why not give it a shot?
Confirm That Non-Meat Meals Are Prepared Separately
With articles floating around in cyberspace like " Plant-based 'meat' isn't always vegan or even vegetarian, and that's a common misconception that needs to be clarified ", don't you feel the least bit self-conscious or uncomfortable about asking your server if the vegan meals are prepared on a different grill or in different pans than meat-based dishes are. You'd be amazed how many aren't (especially in fast food restaurants) and a lot of places aren't going to volunteer that information. If they say "no" or "I don't know", ask to speak with a manager. Remember, you're not at your grandma's house for Sunday dinner. You are paying for your meal. You should get what you want, just how you want it.
Request That Dairy Be Substituted
A lot of sauces have some form of dairy in them whether it's milk, cream or even yogurt. If you do see a dish that you want, you like the sauce, but you don't want any dairy to be in it, ask for a substitution. Perhaps a milk substitute like hemp, oat or almond milk. When it comes to cheese, see if they've got any cashew cheese (a wonderful Brie substitute), hemp seed crumble cheese (a great Parmesan substitute) or Daiya cheese (which is a good mozzarella substitute). As far as the actual cooking goes, an oil or mashed avocados can replace butter.
As far as desserts are concerned, there are all kinds of dairy-free ice cream brands now. Or you can order a sorbet. If you want something with whipped cream on top, whipped coconut milk can scratch that itch. If something has condensed milk in it, see if the chef has any maple syrup; a blend of it and coconut milk is an awesome substitute. (This dairy point is another good reason to call ahead.)
Ask to Speak with the Manager (They Can Handle It)
If, for some reason, your server wants to give you a hard time about your requests or you've got a recommendation that you think will make it easier on other vegan eaters, please don't hesitate to ask for the manager. They are there to handle things that servers may not be able to. Also remember, if they are not able to suit your needs, go by my customer service motto—every manager has a manager.
Oh, and if the service does prove to be outstanding, make a point to tell the manager and to post an online review. This can make it so much easier for other potential customers who are looking to have a delicious vegan-friendly dining experience.
Try Something New
If y'all ever make your way to Nashville , if there's one thing we don't lack, it's places to eat. Although I've been living here since I was about four, I must admit that it wasn't until last year that I set out to try as many new restaurants as possible. Boy, am I glad that I did! It's expanded my palate and altered my perspective a bit on the place where I live. If you're new to veganism and all you do is go to the places where you once had your favorite ribs, steak or hamburger, you could easily get frustrated by the limited options that are at your disposal. But if you decide to try some new spots, you could end up being very pleasantly surprised. Start your cuisine quest by checking out articles like " 50 Best Vegan-Friendly Restaurants In The USA ", " The Best Vegan (and Vegan-friendly) Restaurants in All 50 States " and " Veg Out: 20 Top Vegan Restaurants from Coast to Coast " to see if your city made the lists. Then go to your favorite search engine and put "best vegan restaurants" along with your city and state in the field to narrow down your search.
Just because you're vegan, that doesn't mean you can't turn up a little bit. If you want to have a cocktail with your meal, do so. If you're hesitant because you'd prefer for even your alcohol to be vegan, Barnivore is a website that offers a pretty comprehensive list of beers, wines, and liquors that are exactly that.
Being vegan doesn't have to be synonymous with boring. It also doesn't have to keep you in your own kitchen all of the time. With a little research and interaction with the restaurant staff, you can have a wonderful dining experience. You might even teach them a thing or two too. Enjoy!
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find , there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecole exclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause , marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression , anxiety , like all of it, mental health challenges , all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry ’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy . If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures , and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood , her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff , which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You , which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Victoria Monét has had an incredible year. Thanks to the success of the widely popular “ On My Mama ” that went viral, the singer/ songwriter’s Jaguar II album debuted in the top 10 of Billboard’s Top R&B Albums chart. She also went on to headline her own sold-out tour . So, when the MTV VMAs happened in September, everyone was surprised to learn that Victoria’s team was told that it was “too early” for the “Smoke” artist to perform at the award show. However, a couple of months later, the mom of one received seven Grammy nominations, including “Best R&B Album” and “Record Of The Year.”
Victoria is currently in London and stopped by The Dotty Show on Apple Music and shared how she feels “validated” after being dismissed by the VMAs.
“It really does feel nice and validating because, in my head, the reason why I wanted to be a performer at the VMAs or award ceremonies like that is because I felt like I am at the place where I should. I would work really hard to put on the best show that I could, and I was excited to do so,” she said.
“And I guess the best way to describe it for me is like when you're like on a sports team, and the coach is like, ‘No, you gotta sit this one out.’ When they finally put you in, and then you score all these points, and it feels like that feeling. You're like, yes, I knew it wasn't tripping, but I knew I worked hard for this, and so it's been super validating to just have these accolades come after a moment like that, and I know the fans feel vindicated for me.
While her fans called the VMAs out on their decision, the “Moment” singer kept it cute and is still open to performing at the iconic award show. “I feel no ill towards them because it's just maybe that's just truly how they felt at the time, but I hope their mind has changed,” she admitted.
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