Being VEGAN in the South?! 5 Tips to make it Work
It’s pretty easy to see that the South is all about traditions. We are firm believers in our country music, college football, and holding doors open for each other. Southern hospitality, anyone?
Another big part of tradition in the south is food. You know what I am talking about. Southerners are religious about their fried chicken, mac and cheese, and banana pudding. It’s a part of what makes the south… the south. Can I get an amen?!
My health and fitness journey has been a rollercoaster! I used to be the fried Oreos and meat at every meal kind of girl. After learning more about nutrition and what works best for my body, within the last year and a bit, I have adopted a plant based, vegan diet. I was vegetarian in the latter part of college, and when I graduated I lived in Australia for a bit where I decided to go vegan. If we’re being honest, it was an easy choice. The part of Australia I was living in is a health food haven… cafes on every corner that cater to every diet and tastebud in existence. The trouble wasn’t finding a vegan option on the menu but figuring out which vegan restaurant I wanted to eat at.
Fast forward to a few months ago and being back in the good ole South, the land of dairy and meat. It was culture shock, but I was determined to find a way to keep the values and practices I had adopted.
It is not nearly as easy to be vegan here in Georgia. The last several months, I have been on journey to learn how to be vegan in the South, and it’s a whole new ball game.
Here are some things I’ve learned that have helped when I am going out to eat:
1. Side Items are life savers.
Many restaurants in the south still don’t offer vegan options. Try sussing out the side items to see what kind of vegan meal you can put together. Get creative with it! For example, I went to a Mexican restaurant where even the vegetarian options had cheese poured all over. I opted to get a side of veggies, a side of rice, a side of lettuce, and a side of corn tortillas. I put the free salsa to use, and boom! Tacos!
2. Don’t be scared to ask about modifications.
Restaurants now a days typically have at least one vego option. Try asking your server if they can veganize it! I have found that at places where there are zero options, I can typically get a salad on the menu and ask them to leave certain things off. If they’re feeling extra generous, they may even do substitutes for free. No harm in asking. And don’t feel bad or embarrassed.
3. Look at the menu online before, and call ahead!
There’s no way you can be too prepared, so if you know where you’re going out to dinner Saturday night, check out the menu to ensure there’s something you can eat. Pro Tip- If you call the restaurant ahead of time, most places are very accommodating to help find something you can eat!
4. Always have a snack on hand.
This one is a good for more than just vegans. For when the hanger strikes, I try to have something easy and filling on hand in my purse or car. If you had to opt for a side of veggies at dinner and aren’t satisfied, there’s no shame in whipping out your favourite protein bar or sachet of nut butter when you get in the car after dinner!
5. Eat before you go.
If we’re being real here, this is also a major budgeting hack. If you eat a light or normal size meal before you go out to eat, you can order something small or not feel deprived if there are limited vegan options.
There you have it. Five trusty tips to help you stick to the vegan lifestyle without having to compromise your social life. Above everything else, remind yourself why you’re doing it, and if it’s important than to you, then make it work! What are your tips for being vegan in the South? We could never have too many!
About the Author
By: Supriya Sajja/ @supes94
Supriya Sajja is a young, marketing professional originally from Georgia. She has a passion for people, connection, travel, and overall wellness. She has lived in places all over the world, but her favourite is the Sunshine Coast, which is a little surf town in Australia. If Supriya’s not outside enjoying nature, you can find her making acai bowls, journaling, or hanging out with family and friends.