Month: September 2016

Plant-Based Diet – Solving the Restaurant Problem

After being on the whole food, plant-based diet since April 2016, I’ve faced the dilemma of eating out with people who do not share my dining requirements.

The plant-based diet, as I’ve previously shared, eliminates meat and dairy products from one’s diet. Along with meat and dairy, fats are eliminated naturally. In restaurants, however, fats from frying, cheese, and olive oil are added back in, as is a lot of salt. Under all conditions, finding plant-based things to eat in a standard restaurant or fast-food chain is difficult.

Dining out, however, is a social function that should be enjoyed with family and friends without turning it into an affair that’s “all about you and your silly, picky eating habits.” Minimizing the differences between  everyone’s dietary choices is a must!

I thought at first that salads would satisfy my needs, but frankly, there are not enough calories in even the most stuffed salad bowl to sustain me after toppings of cheese, fried croutons, and bacon are removed.


I have, however, solved the restaurant problem and this solution meets my need to:

  • Avoid stuffing myself on bread
  • Avoid appetizers that are fried, meat-filled, and/or are topped with cheese
  • Satiate myself on a low-calorie salad
  • Lower my salt intake

While I still order a salad as a main course, I now bring in an unopened package of unsalted nuts which serve as nibbles during the drink and appetizer portion of the meal.

Before opening the nuts at the table, however, I ask the server to plate them so my fellow diners can share. Plating, of course, usually results in a restaurant charge, much like BYOB. When being served by waitstaff, don’t sneak food into a restaurant as it is impolite and in addition, make sure that what you bring in has not been previously opened.


When you are on the road, unsalted nuts serve as an excellent alternative to French fries, fried cheese, and fried onion rings in fast food restaurants like McDonalds or Burger King. They also taste good when added directly to a “fast food” salad. Under all conditions, nuts are a nutritious food, not a guilty pleasure.

Note that some casual restaurants, such as Cracker Barrel, do serve vegetables that include baked potatoes, baked sweet potatoes, broccoli, and baked beans, which together provide enough calories to be filling. Chain restaurants that offer “all you can eat” salad bars also offer good choices. This  2014 list of chain restaurants with salad bars by The Daily Meal can help you plan, especially when you are traveling. While these restaurants specialize in various cuisines, fresh veggies are tucked around the sides.

Where to Buy Unsalted Nuts

Large companies, such as Planters, sell them, although they might not be commonly available. Regional candy shops that roast their own nuts usually carry at least one non-salted variety, and nut specialty shops always sell unsalted varieties.

If you cannot find unsalted nuts in your community, check these outlets and buy as needed.



This article was written by Karen Little for and was published on September 5, 2016. For permission to reproduce this article, contact Karen Little at All rights to this article are reserved by and Karen Little.