This is how to find which restaurants can accommodate our vegan lifestyle.
Let's take a look at P.F. Chang's menu. They have things listed as Vegetarian. Unfortunately these things aren't as vegetarian-friendly as you might think. Fish oil is a common ingredient in their menu (and asian food in general, especially Vietnamese cuisine). Some of their vegetarian items are cooked with fish oil. This is a risky situation - Ask, ask and ask again until you get a response that you feel comfortable with. Most chain restaurants have a "secret" menu that lists all of the ingredients in their menu items. Smaller restaurants will usually have a chef that can help you on the spot. P.F. Chang's does have great vegan food, as long as you know what you're ordering (I.E. Coconut Curry Vegetables).
-Call ahead and ask. -Check veganeatingout.com before you go (they've done a lot of the work for you!) -Make friends with the manager(s). They'll give you the skinny on what the kitchen is like. -Don't be too uptight to ask questions. -If it sounds fishy, it probably is. -Watch for words like creamy, deep-fried, confit, toasted bread (usually means with butter), Caesar, and alfredo. -Ask what it's topped with (usually Italian food will be topped with cheese). -Secret Sauce = Thousand Island dressing = mayonnaise = egg. -A veggie burger isn't always vegan. Most restaurants serve Gardenburger Original that contains cheese. And some restaurants will dress the bun with mayo even if the patty is vegan (Houston's). -Pinto beans and refried beans will usually be cooked with bacon and/or lard. -Ask about salad dressing base. Many will be a mayo or egg based dressing. -Ask deli-style employees to change their gloves before making your food (it's their job anyway). -Assume dessert is out of the question, make it at home. -Don't be scared to send your plate back, you are getting what you pay for.
-Avoid saying that you're allergic to diary/eggs/etc., doing so will dilute the impact when someone who IS allergic orders something. If every vegan said they were allergic to these things and didn't get sick if there was minor cross-contamination, restaurants wouldn't take food allergies very seriously. Follow the steps above to avoid resorting to this option.
Eating at (non-vegan) restaurants isn't totally out of the question, just arm yourself with knowledge before you walk in. These tips aren't everything that you need to know, but a good quick-reference. Experience will help guide your actions and decisions. If you don't ask, you don't know. I don't play that kind of roulette with my intestines.