Over the past few decades, vegetarianism has been on the rise. Today, it’s estimated that over 20 million Americans follow a vegetarian-inclined diet. While it has never been more acceptable and easier to follow a non-meat eating diet at home, eating out for vegetarians still often remains a challenge. If you’ve had trouble in the past discovering the right restaurants or finding something on the menu that isn’t a salad, consider the following tips for eating out as a vegetarian.

Be Upfront

It wasn’t so long ago that if you told certain people you were a vegetarian, they’d look at you as if you just admitted you came from another planet. Nowadays, being a vegetarian is much more accepted and is even commonly considered modern, healthy and cool.

To avoid trouble, such as being invited to a steak house or a restaurant where sharing family-style dishes that feature meat is the norm, let your friends know in advance you follow a vegetarian diet. Get involved in finding a place where everyone in your group will be happy, and be sure to let your server know as soon as possible that you don’t eat meat so they can alert the chef as well as provide recommendation and options suitable to your diet.

Do Research

There’s nothing worse than sitting down in a restaurant, getting your drinks and then realizing there’s nothing on the menu you can or want to eat. Before heading out, get online and check out the restaurant’s menu to see what they have available. If you’re not sure about a certain dish, or if the place doesn’t have a website, give them a call and ask about your options. Most restaurants today understand there’s a growing population of patrons who do not eat meat, and they are typically eager to provide solutions that are just as satisfying.

Be Adventurous

Learning how to eat out as a vegetarian can be tough enough — being a finicky eater makes it all but impossible. No matter how old you are or how long you’ve been eating vegetarian, it’s always a good idea to keep trying new dishes and more exotic ingredients. Often the most vegetarian-friendly restaurants feature flavorful ethnic cuisines such as Thai, Middle Eastern, Asian and Ethiopian.

Get Creative

Eating out for vegetarians can be as easy as spotting the items on the menu marked with a green “v.” Other times, you might have to look a little closer to find a solution you’re going to enjoy. Consider ordering multiple appetizers or sides if there are tasty vegetarian options or seeing if the chef can substitute meat on a particular dish for something more suitable. Just don’t try re-writing the recipes or reinventing the menu. That can be looked at as rude and gives vegetarians eating out a bad name.

For all people who love food — carnivores, omnivores and herbivores alike — dining out is one of the great pleasures of life. Following these tips on how to eat out as a vegetarian will ensure you never have to miss out on a fun experience or suffer through a less-than-agreeable meal. If you’re interested in finding a restaurant in the Naples, Florida area with delicious food and a menu selection that has something for everyone, visit the USS Nemo online and whet your appetite by perusing our extensive lunch and dinner menus.