The vegetarian's guide to dining out

SINGAPORE - Sometimes, the fear of eating at a non-vegetarian restaurant may deter a vegetarian from inviting family and friends or accepting invitations to dine out.

However, rest assured that you can eat almost anywhere and still have a satisfying meal without meat, as most restaurants have vegetarian options on the menu.

You can also ask your server if they have a separate vegetarian menu that is usually produced on request. If they do not have one, you can put in a special order - most chefs will be happy to whip up something suitable, but it is a good idea to call ahead to check if they can accommodate your request.

Each chef may have his or her own understanding of what vegetarianism constitutes. So, depending on what kind of vegetarian you are, it is best to ask how they prepare their food. Some important things to check for are fish sauces in Asian dishes, whether gelatine of animal origin is used, and the kind of oil or fat used for cooking and frying.

To have an easier time ordering, stick to ethnic restaurants that serve these types of cuisines: Japanese (noodles, vegetable tempura, agedashi tofu, edamame (green soy beans) and miso soup), Indian (ricem vegetable curries, beans and flatbreads) and Middle Eastern (falafel, hummus and tabouli). Avoid Brazilian, German and French restaurants, as they serve mainly meat courses - unless they have a well-stocked all-you-can-eat salad bar.

When you cannot find a viable vegetarian option but don't want to miss out on the gathering, consider bringing your own food from home. This may sound unconventional and even rude, but you can order something small, like a drink and a side, from the restaurant. But don't forget to check with the restaurant first!

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