I don’t know about you, but since going vegan about seven months ago, I have found eating out to be more of a strategic plan than a casual dining experience. Coming from a background of eating disorders and diet culture, checking a restaurant’s menu ahead of time to see if there’s anything I’m “allowed” to eat doesn’t always seem like a great choice for my mental health. However, after seven months, I hardly ever feel deprived eating out (except for that time I was at Outback Steakhouse and I could only get a sweet potato), and it really never feels like a diet (because I eat chocolate all the time).
Maybe I’ll talk more about all that a different time, but for now, if you are vegan and going on a road trip in the United States, I want to let you know about some things that have made eating three satisfying (usually) vegan meals every day really very easy.
1) The first is a helpful tool that you may already know about, and that is Happy Cow. It’s a website and a smart phone app that allows you to search any city that you’re in, and it will show you all the restaurants nearby that have vegetarian and vegan options, with reviews from other vegetarians and vegans. That’s how Sean and I found most of the restaurants we ate at on our road trip. (BTW the barbecue tempeh sandwich pictured above was from Sunflower Café in Nashville. Delicious, and discovered through Happy Cow. Sean got one too and he’s not even vegan.)
2) If I don’t have internet access or something, I feel pretty confident that a Mexican, Japanese, or Thai restaurant will also usually have something I can eat that’s vegan. At a Mexican restaurant, you can get tacos or a burrito with beans, vegetables, rice, and avocado or guacamole, which I’ve had probably 4 times in the South and Southwest. At a Japanese restaurant, you can get miso soup and vegetable sushi and probably some other things I haven’t looked into. We just went to a Thai restaurant in Page, AZ which is a small city where I didn’t expect to find many vegan options, and they had a whole section of vegan dishes.
3) My third tip is BAGELS. Since becoming vegan, the meal I’ve probably eaten the most times is a bagel with avocado and tomato. Most bagels are vegan (besides egg bagels and certain sweet bagels like chocolate chip if the chocolate chips have milk in them) and I love bagels. I’m Jewish, and there are not a lot of Jewish foods that are already vegan without making substitutions, so bagels are my salvation. They’re also inexpensive in terms of eating out on the road. In NYC we found Bagel Talk which had vegan cream cheese options, and in Nashville we found Bagel Face Bakery, also vegan friendly.
4) Fourth is accidentally vegan snack foods. “Accidentally” vegan foods are just foods that are already vegan without intending to be. Oreos, for example, are completely vegan (no longer made with lard since the early 1990s). Vegan road trip snacks I’ve enjoyed have been Fig Newtons, pretzels, potato chips, and black pepper Snap Pea Crisps (which I just discovered and are OMG so good).
5) My last tip is a few groceries that have really helped for breakfasts and times when we didn’t want to eat out. I got a box of vegan cereal (a lot of cereals are vegan, just check the label for honey) and we always kept one of those small boxes of almond milk in our cooler. We also had a loaf of bread and THIS. It’s vegan Nutella, and while I don’t think it’s quite the same as real Nutella, it’s sweet and chocolatey and really good when you dip pretzels in it.
What are some of your vegan road trip tips?
Until next time,