Happy Herbivore Blog

Plant-Based Restaurant Finds (Making It Work)

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Advice

I'm always getting questions about plant-based options at restaurants. In fact, I have an entire section dedicated to dining out in my new book, The Happy Herbivore Guide to Plant-Based Living. (It's also available in Audible format!)

I've blogged plenty of times about my plant-based dining adventures (if you're looking for a specific city, use the search bar at the top of the page), so this time I asked Herbies on Facebook to share their experiences while dining out.

Sure, eating at a lot of these places may not be ideal, but it's nice to know there are options -- and lots of them!

Applebee's: "This is their Strawberry & Avocado salad over a bed of arugula and romaine with zesty chili lime vinaigrette, which is normally served with chicken. I asked to substitute it with blueberries and pecans instead and they did without charging me!"

Image via Desiree N

Bonefish Grill: "After talking with the waitress, I found the couscous is cooked in water (not broth), so I ordered a side of couscous, a side of broccoli, and asked for some of their mango salsa. The salsa was great over the broccoli."

California Pizza Kitchen: "They always sub avocado for chicken in any salad free of charge."

Carrabba's: "There are several pasta dishes they can make that don't include cheese. Just tell your server and they will take care of you."

Cheesecake Factory: "You can order the new kale and quinoa salad without parm (sub in "Skinnylicious Mustard Vinaigrette" dressing). It is both vegan and oil free."

Image via Kelly D

Chili's: "They have a menu online to identify non-dairy items before you get there so you can "be ready." I ordered a salad without the chicken and no substitute, and they charged me for just a side salad! It was so delicious!"

Cracker Barrel: "This restaurant is clearly VERY Southern, which would seem impossible to eat plant-strong. But they have a vegetable platter that you can choose options from. I had a plain baked sweet potato with a fruit cup, steamed broccoli and a tossed salad. You do have to vigilant about asking for the items prepared plain though."

Culver's: "I had the Strawberry Fields salad and was surprised when they actually took money off when i asked for no meat and cheese."

Jimmy John's: "This is the #6 on wheat. No cheese, no mayo. Add mustard, extra tomato, extra cucumbers, extra hot peppers, extra lettuce, extra sprouts. Add onion and oregano. Sounds complicated but it's very easy to order on-line and they always have gotten my orders right."

Image Via Jen H

In-N-Out: "You can order a veggie burger, no sauce, add ketchup, mustard, and pickle. You can also add tomatoes, lettuce and onions."

Outback Steakhouse: "I had a plate of sides with a dinner salad with no cheese, grilled asparagus, steamed mixed veggies, and a plain sweet potato."

Panera: "They will sub avocado for chicken for no extra charge!"

Texas Roadhouse: "I get their veggie plate and order a veganized salad, baked potato, mushrooms and steamed veggies." [**Editorial Note: It has come to our attention that Texas Roadhouse soaks their potatoes and sweet potatoes in bacon grease.**]

Waffle House: "You can order the hash browns at Waffle House with NO OIL OR BUTTER and pile on extra servings of veggies (mushrooms, tomatoes, jalapeños)."

Wendy's: "They took $1.20 off of their full size Apple Pecan salad for removing the chicken and it comes cheese-free! Win!"

The Yardhouse: "I just went through the menu and asked the chef to grill up all the veggies he had. He did."

Image via David G

What are some plant-based meals or substitutes you've made when dining out?

Herbies of the Week: Derrick & Katie (They've Lost 140lbs Together!)

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Herbies

Meet our Herbies of the Week: Derrick & Katie!

This hubby and wife team stumbled upon a plant-based lifestyle after paying more attention to what they were putting into their body -- and realized what they thought was "healthy" was the exact opposite.

Derrick and Katie started to eat more plant-based foods and noticed they felt a lot better. Fast forward four months later: Derrick and Katie lost a combined total of 140lbs and lowered their cholesterol and blood pressure!

Read on for their incredible plant-based adventure!

Our “adventure” began in March 2013 when Derrick decided to try a new app that tracks your nutritional and caloric intake and documents cardiovascular activity. Derrick had successfully lost 40 pounds the year before with intense exercise, but gained it back because his diet didn't contain enough calories and other things your body needs to keep you healthy.

I decided if he was going to log his food and exercise every day, I should, too. We quickly learned that not only does regular heart-pumping activity help you lose weight, but a balanced diet does also. Like most people, we've been bombarded with mixed messages about what's healthy and what's not our whole lives, whether it was from friends, family, the Internet or media. Lots of things seem to work for people, but not long-term and not in a way that leaves them feeling energized and full.

In addition to calories, our app tracks nutritional information like sodium, sugar, potassium, vitamins, cholesterol, fat, fiber and protein. We were amazed so many foods in our diet offer little or no nutritional value, and these are the types of foods touted in our culture as being “healthy.” Processed foods are so awful! And good luck finding anything in a restaurant that is low in sodium, sugar and calories. Yuck! So many boxed, bagged, frozen and canned products are loaded with preservatives and other chemicals. Products labeled “diet,” “skinny” or “healthy,” we noticed, are the biggest offenders. What the food companies cut out in calories or fat they just replace with additives, salt and sugar.

With all this new information learned, we also found out what is good for us to eat. Some foods are even “free” to eat whenever you want. Fresh vegetables and fruit are amazing! For example, if there was a day when we were really low in potassium or iron, and were therefore feeling really sluggish, we often found that eating fresh produce solved the problem. Eating cheese and meat made us feel gross and ready to nap. If you've ever inhaled a pizza, burger and fries or steak dinner you can relate.

Within four months of us following a plant-based lifestyle, Derrick lost 100 pounds and I lost 40 pounds. We felt amazing, like we found “the answer” that everyone is looking for. Our cholesterol and blood pressure is very low; mine is that of a professional athlete.

There have been many other resources we have used on our journey in addition to the app. We watched documentaries like Forks Over Knives, Engine 2 Kitchen Rescue and other films that have grown in popularity as people have become interested in plant-based eating. We were amazed by what they were teaching is what we had found in our own research. We read blogs and bought plant-based cookbooks. I went to hear the No-Meat Athlete author Matt Frazier give a talk. We dove into plant-based cooking and spent many, many hours in grocery stores. Education has been the driving factor in our decision to change the way we live.

While neither one of us is vegan or vegetarian, we are continuously working at incorporating plant-based meals into our daily routine. There have been really great days, weeks and months, and some not-so-great ones. We've found that stressors like work, family issues, societal pressures and even winter weather have an impact on how we eat. Both of us have always used food as a coping mechanism for boredom, stress and sadness, but it's also used for celebratory times, bonding with people and relaxing.

We live in the rural Midwest, where many meals center around a huge cut of meat, and the sides are usually secondary and often warmed up in a microwave. We drive to a nearby city to get most of our groceries. We are planning to buy a house soon and hope to plant a garden to help with that. We are still learning how to address eating (or just not eating) at social functions where healthy options are not available.

I am still considering becoming vegan because I feel the best when I eat that way. It's an ongoing education and learning process for us, and we cannot say enough great things about resources like Happy Herbivore for getting the information out to people. Doctors don't always prescribe food as medicine, but if they did, we believe it would cure so many of the world's health problems.

Thank you so much for sharing your story with us Katie & Derrick!

"Beef" with Broccoli Bowl, Grilled Vegetable & Chickpea Salad, Southwest Pasta Salad & More!

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: MealPlan

Start the month off right with this week's meal plan!

Both the individual and brand new dinner only family meal plan are exploding with delicious and exciting new recipes like the "Beef" with Broccoli Bowl (NEW!), Southwest Pasta Salad (NEW!), Grilled Vegetable & Chickpea Salad (NEW!), and the BBQ Black Bean Wrap (NEW!).

Happy & healthy eating everyone!

Southwest Pasta Salad

Individual Highlights

  • Easy Mango & Strawberry Smoothie (NEW!)
  • "Beef" with Broccoli Bowl (NEW!)
  • Banana Split Overnight Oats
  • Grilled Vegetable & Chickpea Salad (NEW!)
  • Southwest Pasta Salad (NEW!)
  • Sweet Potato & Black Bean Enchiladas
  • BBQ Black Bean Wrap (NEW!)

Get this meal plan now.

"Beef" with Broccoli Bowl

Family Highlights

  • "Beef" with Broccoli Bowl (NEW!)
  • Sweet Potato & Black Bean Enchiladas
  • Southwest Pasta Salad (NEW!)
  • Tomato Cobbler with Rosemary Biscuits
  • BBQ Black Bean Wrap (NEW!)
  • Cajun Cornbread Casserole
  • Grilled Vegetable & Chickpea Salad (NEW!)

Get this meal plan now.

Grilled Vegetable & Chickpea Salad


"Through your meal plans, I've finally learned how to eat well. Since April 1, I've lost 22 pounds and 10 inches off my waist! Thank you again for the valuable insight you provide all of us." - Jen P

"Your meal plans have changed my life!" - Kelly C

Get the current meal plan now.