You Need Brunch Help: So You’re The Only Vegan At Brunch

Hold onto your eggs, we’re getting ready for Autostraddle’s International Brunch Weekend 8/23-24! Find a brunch meetup in your city or create your own by heading over to our events page. You can also load up on all things brunch by watching this space. From playlists to recommendations to personal essays, we’re writing all about the brunch experience. Get excited! BRUNCH.

“So if you’re vegan… what do you eat?!

So here we are, it’s a glorious Sunday morning (or early afternoon) and you and all your hungover friends are hobbling out into the bright sunshine to drink bottomless mimosas as part of the great weekend tradition we call Brunch. Better yet, you’re all dolled up in your Sunday best and off to go meet with some brand new queer best friends at your local Autostraddle brunch! Your friends suggested this place and gosh, you just love brunching with your friends so much! Except when you get to the restaurant and look at the menu, there’s not a damn vegan option to be found. This happens sometimes — non-vegan friends might not think about making sure there’s a tofu scramble or tempeh bacon available before they pick a place. Depending on where you live, being vegan can be so easy that your friends might have even forgotten you have different dietary needs — but all of a sudden you’re sitting at the table gazing at a veritable ocean of eggy waffles, creamy sauces and unidentifiable breakfast meats, with nary a vegetable in sight. Usually that’s when people start cooing “Ohhh, is there anything you can eat? Like a salad?”

This is actually the exact opposite of the brunch I was hoping to have.

This is actually the exact opposite of the brunch I was hoping to have.

I’ve suffered through many a diner breakfast this way, glaring down at my plain toast and coffee, swearing that I don’t really eat breakfast anyway, it’s no big deal, really, but the truth is that after a while, I’m not only hangry, I’m a little resentful. So your friends are inconsiderate jerks!* That’s okay! Here are some tips to help you get through brunch without compromising your morals or starving to death.

* – Just kidding, I’m sure your friends are very nice.

Call Ahead

I read somewhere that if you call ahead at Medieval Times and tell them you’re vegan, they’ll make you some hummus or a stuffed pepper instead of a whole chicken you have to eat with your hands. Are you guys brunching at Medieval Times? You guys are hardcore. Anyway, if at all possible, it never hurts to call ahead to a restaurant and ask if they have the ability to accommodate your diet. A lot of places won’t mind the opportunity to get creative with ingredients on your behalf. Part of me always hates asking questions because of being perceived as that annoying vegan, but there’s a big difference between politely inquiring about the egg-free options and loudly preaching about the evils of factory farming to all your friends while they’re just trying to enjoy their bacon. Odds are good if you give the kitchen a good-natured fair warning, they can whip up something delicious without having to so much as inconvenience an animal.

Get Creative

If calling ahead isn’t an option and none of the brunch entrees look particularly safe for a vegan diet, you can usually piece together something pretty excellent. Does the restaurant have plain toast and an avocado? Boom, you have avocado toast, you mad genius — bonus if the restaurant can give you a side of rice and beans, provided they’re not cooked in some kind of animal stock. Are there breakfast potatoes? What are they cooked in? You definitely want those breakfast potatoes. Maybe the restaurant can sauté some veggies with those bad boys. Toss in a side of fruit and you’ve got yourself a pretty sweet breakfast situation.

Eat A Garnish

If all else fails, there are probably like, some fake flowers on the table or something. Eat those. Eat the orange slice that comes in your friend’s cocktail. Pour some hot sauce on a napkin.

Is this a joke?

Is this a joke?

What are your tips for navigating a vegan brunch in a world full of scrambled eggs and hollandaise? Let us know in the comments!

Are you following us on Facebook?

Profile photo of Stef

Stef Schwartz is the Music Editor and self-appointed Vapid Fluff Editor at She's a rock'n'roll jack-of-all-trades, vegan crusader and legit professional weirdo. She currently resides in New York City, where she spends her days writing songs nobody will ever hear and her nights telling much more successful musicians what to do. Follow her on twitter.

Stef has written 169 articles for us.


  1. Thumb up 7

    Please log in to vote

    Fortunately I live in what is possibly the vegan brunch capital of the world, but in other places I usually ask if the potatoes are safe and of so, get potatoes and a side of fruit. Carby and delicious. If the potatoes are cooked in butter/bacon grease/dead puppies/something not vegan I just get drunk (the ideal is that they can do a bloody mary without worcestershire but that’s not always possible) and eat later.

  2. Thumb up 5

    Please log in to vote

    ALL OF THE CARBS. That’s my typical brunch/diner situation. Toast, breakfast potatoes, oatmeal made w/ water, and the requisite fruit cup. Maybe a bagel instead of toast. CARB PLATE. If it’s really bad, I just enjoy my black coffee…and try to not be totally awkward while everyone else is eating.

  3. Thumb up 1

    Please log in to vote

    Not a vegan so all I can think about is what I’d cook. Not just cause restaurants have so many variables but because making veggie kebobs is one of my favorite things. And you mentioned hummus so it’s only a natural progression with how my mind works.

  4. Thumb up 1

    Please log in to vote

    Hell, I’m a lacto-ovo-pesce-vegetarian, not even vegan, and it’s damn difficult here in Maine to find something I can eat! I don’t know how vegans manage. There was a lunch at church last week and the only things I could eat were pickles and guacamole. Yum.

  5. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    For brunch I usually got a vegan place or make a meal at home (5 min vegan pancakes – google it!) but if that’s not an option you can always try ordering off of the lunch menu if the breakfast menu isn’t offering much in the way of veg friendly selections.

  6. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    This has happened to me countless times, and brunch is frankly, the least vegan-friendly meal of the day…
    However, in my experience, I refrain from toast, even plain toast, because oftentimes people just don’t know what you mean when you ask “Is the bread vegan?” They’re like, “Yeah, there’s no meat in the bread, of course.” *sigh*
    Things I have found that work pretty well:
    1.) Find the fruit bowl.
    Just about every place has a fruit bowl, and brunch places almost always do. It’s probably somewhere tiny on the menu because bitches did not come for the fruit; they came for the waffles, so make sure you REALLY look for it. Also keep in mind, it will probably be small. Ask for two, or a large. Make sure it doesn’t come with yogurt/other non-vegan things.

    2.) Plain Baked Potato. You could also probably do hash browns if you ask what oil is used, but I don’t like hash browns so… Plain baked potato! Some brunchy places have them; some don’t. In my years of experience, I’ve actually managed to explain that “no, I don’t want any butter or sour cream or cheese” and “no I don’t want any of your special sauce/seasoning” and “yes, I know nobody in their right mind would surely want just a PLAIN baked potato, but trust me, this is what I want, so if it wouldn’t be too much trouble, would you PLEASE just bring me a dry plain baked potato and I’ll drown it in A1 sauce or ketchup or salt and pepper or whatever the hell you have that I can safely put in my mouth? Ahem, please.”

    3.) OATMEAL. Brunch venues typically have oatmeal. Make sure they don’t make it with milk (though be prepared for “Where do you think you are?! No, we use plain old water, hon.” (I’ve actually had a server make fun of me for this.) Additionally, let them know you don’t want any butter, milk, buttered toast, or anything else that may come on the side or in the oatmeal. It took me a long time to get this down to a science. I’ve explained my dietary restrictions and what that entails before and yet had servers bring out my vegan oatmeal with a cup of milk and butter packets on the side, like, SERIOUSLY?
    Lol. The struggle though. The struggle…

Contribute to the conversation...

Yay! You've decided to leave a comment. That's fantastic. Please keep in mind that comments are moderated by the guidelines laid out in our comment policy. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation and thanks for stopping by!