Eating out vegan is hit or miss


Kala Youngblood

Sweet Treats offers a tasty sandwich perfect for those who are vegan or vegetarian.

Kala Youngblood, Broadcast Editor and Events Coordinator

Going out to eat can be a fun and an enjoyable social experience, but when you live with dietary restrictions, eating out can be quite stressful. I am vegan meaning I only eat plant-based foods. I have a dairy sensitivity that made me have to cut out dairy and I eventually switched to a vegan diet for ethical reasons.  Unfortunately for me, America seems to be meat and dairy obsessed.

Lexington can be a lonely place for a vegan, but in recent years, vegan options have been increasing at local restaurants. Yet sometimes I still get stuck with salad or french fries. I love salad, but lettuce loses its appeal when you eat it every time you go out. Do not get me wrong; I am not going into  known burger restaurants and expecting them to have elaborate vegan meals. Going into any fast food restaurant, I know that, most likely, I am going to be eating a salad or french fries.

Don Tequila is a Lexington staple to many, including me. It is beautiful to open a menu and see a vegetarian section because I can often request the meal without dairy.

The veggie fajitas are served on a sizzling hot plate, popping like Rice Krispies. In a less dramatic entrance comes the plate of beans, guacamole, lettuce and tomato. In a small bundle wrapped in foil are tortillas, warm and soft.

The fajitas are a mix of peppers, onions, tomatoes, potatoes and mushrooms. Though soaked in grease, the vegetables are tender and delectable. If I had to choose what my last meal would be, these fajitas would most definitely be on my list of options. These amazing fajitas are my favorite vegan option on the menu. The bean burrito, bean chalupa, bean tacos or taco salad with beans instead of beef and no dairy are delectable as well. Don Tequila wins at offering a variety of tasty foods for people of vegetarian and vegan diets.

Sweet Treats Bakery, a quaint family restaurant, also happens to be vegan friendly. The owners are understanding and have no qualms making an alteration to a meal. While the black bean veggie burger is rather bland, the veggie panini without cheese is magical. A toasted sub roll loaded with cooked squash, zucchini, mushroom and other delectable veggies is a pleasure to eat. Unfortunately, the variety of cute desserts are full of eggs, butter and milk. But I understand how difficult vegan baking is. They do have gluten-free desserts for those with gluten free diets. These local restaurants are often the best places to eat at if you have a dietary restriction.

Cookout, known for charbroiled burgers and creamy milkshakes, sounds like a paradise to most teens. While there are a few vegetarian options, such as the cheese quesadilla, as I am vegan I am unfortunately limited to the french fries. Coming in a small grease soaked paper bag, the limp potato strands are not the most appealing sight. Although the cajun seasoning and a few vegan dipping sauces are a nice way to spice up this option, it is still just a snack.

I am lucky that the fries at Cookout are vegan, unlike McDonald’s, which are cooked in beef flavoring so they are not even vegetarian. My options at McDonald’s are limited to a side salad of old lettuce and one cherry tomato, “fresh” apple slices served in a plastic bag, or lumpy oatmeal made without milk. Considering Burger King has begun to offer a vegetarian veggie burger, though not vegan, McDonalds vegetarian and vegan food falls flat.

According to, “3.2 percent of U.S. adults, or 7.3 million people, follow a vegetarian-based diet. Approximately 0.5 percent, or 1 million, of those are vegans.” While it is not a huge percent of the population, vegetarians and vegans are significant, and businesses need to become more aware of their customers with dietary restrictions. There should be more options for non-meat eaters that are not centered around cheese. Local restaurants are slowly becoming more aware of people’s dietary needs and offering more options.

I also understand that it is easier for locally owned businesses to alter their menu than  national corporations. I am not angry, I am not going to stand outside Mcdonalds with a picket sign, I am just hungry.