Dining Tips For Vegetarians At The Steakhouse

By Terry Pithers | Dining

Apr 26


Are you a vegetarian? Or do you have a friend or family member who has some food issues?

Need some advice how to not starve or look like a picky eater?

Want some table manners tips on what you can order if you get stuck dining at Tony’s Palace of Meats or the Vulture Restaurant? You’re not alone, we often get these questions at our dining etiquette seminars.

Here’s our recent advice for some questions posted in our Dining For Success online training forum.

Q: Will that be meat or… meat?

As a vegetarian, how should I handle dining requests that take place at Steak Houses?  Or when the dinner options are beef and chicken?

A: Vegetarians are more creative… they have to be

That’s not always easy. Our advice is to let the host know you’re a vegetarian during the invite to forestall this but that’s not possible all the time. Now most restaurants are making their menus more vegetarian friendly or at least ‘heart smart”. But if you end up at an old fashioned steak house, that calls for some dining etiquette creativity.

The big salad tip

You may have to really dissect the menu to find a vegetarian friendly dish. If an appetizer is being ordered, see if any of the soups will work for you and then save the “big salad” for the main course. Or have a salad and for the main course choose a stir fry or similar dish and ask them to hold the meat. Click here to laugh at Elaine’s big salad video scenes from Seinfeld

Q: High maintenance? Moi?

I live in the Midwest and finding vegetarian dishes at restaurants can be a recurring issue.  Usually, I will eat something before I go so I’m not starving.  Then I will have a baked potato and salad but I am afraid of being perceived as ‘high maintenance’ or ‘difficult’ because my diet is different.  There are usually some comments or questions and I try to explain that my diet is very important to me due to some health issues I’ve had.  But then again, I can come off as not being healthy enough for the job…it’s kind of difficult.  I would love to avoid this situation all together but realize that I can’t do that.  Any advice on how to approach this?

A: Our tip – don’t try to convert them

You have to be true to yourself. Vegetarianism is becoming more common. Our dining etiqette advice is not to over explain, convert them or get preachy. Try a simple statement like “I’ve made a conscious decision to be vegetarian and it works well for me”. If someone asks further questions answer them briefly and move the conversation on to another topic.

Bonus Q: What’s the difference between vegetarian and vegan or semi-vegetarian?

Not sure what the difference between vegetarian and vegan is? Click here for a page that concisely outlines how to understand the differences and also explains some other sub-categories of vegetarian – Semi-vegetarian, Ovo-vegetarian, Lacto-vegetarian.

Remember good etiquette and table manners is not to question people’s food choices (unless they’re your kids or your spouse) but to make them feel valued and comfortable dining with you. (Really you should make your spouse feel valued and comfortable too. Do you hear that, Joanne?)

Lunch and learn

BTW – We have a public LIVE Dining For Success – Business Dining Workshop over lunch in Edmonton on June 17th. Click here for details. So much more than your Mom ever taught you. Business dining is more than good table manners. Plus we’re throwing in so many freebies that the lunch and workshop is practically free.
Bon appetit!

Posted by Terry Pither – Image consultant, dining and business etiquette expert

About the Author

TERRY PITHERS Canadian speaker, humorist and business etiquette expert. If you are interested in booking me for a presentation, keynote or workshop, contact me. Based in Calgary / Edmonton, Alberta in western Canada.