A common misconception and perceived barrier to vegetarian or vegan diets is that those who observe them cannot easily go out to eat with their friends.

In suburbs and rural areas, this may be a valid concern, but in a city like Madison, dining out is quite simple for vegetarians. You can still go anywhere that your friends go. Even if you aren’t interested in a veg lifestyle yourself, keep reading for tips to help you out next time you plan to eat out with a vegetarian friend or colleague.

Options are abound along the entirety State Street, and some menus even conveniently label their vegetarian options.

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Starting with the well-known fast food establishments, Chipotle offers Sofritas, a spicy tofu option, and guacamole comes free on veggie burritos. At Naf Naf Grill, anything with the golden lamp icon next to it (most of their menu) is vegan. Noodles & Company offers a vegan Japanese Pan Noodles bowl that you can try with tofu. Potbelly’s Mediterranean sandwich is delicious even without any meat or cheese.

If you’re looking for a slower meal, State Street has those options as well. Ian’s Pizza will always make you a build-your-own pie with vegan cheese (yes, it does melt) and some vegan meat alternatives. Sunroom Cafe offers vegetarian options for any time of day, including tofu scrambles and veggie burgers, and don’t miss Roast Public House’s delicious veggie burger either.

After your meal, there are many options for dessert. The Chocolate Shoppe sells a few flavors of soy ice cream, Fair Trade Coffee House bakes a vegan apple pie, Michelangelo’s Coffee House makes vegan chocolate peanut butter bars and Espresso Royale boasts vegan zucchini bread.

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Eating out while avoiding animal products doesn’t have to be daunting in Madison. Remember if you stay gracious and polite, most places without clearly marked vegetarian options will still work with you and serve your needs. Demonstrate support for the restaurants that are already veg-friendly and show interest in more options to the restaurants that aren’t there yet.

Regardless of whether you already subscribe to a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, aim to reduce your animal product consumption, or just try to support your friends and fellow students — it matters what businesses you choose to visit and what products you choose to buy. If all of us spend our money more mindfully, we will slowly witness a reduction in animals used for food in the U.S., which is good news for our health, the environment and farm animals.

Claire Clark ([email protected]) is a sophomore majoring in mathematics. She serves as the activism chair for the Nature and Animal Lovers Association.