The Traveling Vegan

As I’m sure you all know, maintaining a vegan diet can be quite a challenge when on a road trip and while staying in another city — especially if that city doesn’t have ready access to the ingredients you’re used to using. Thankfully, though, with a little planning (and a large cooler), you don’t have to sacrifice your diet to stay full while away from home.

My husband and I went on a small road trip this past weekend. The trip itself wasn’t that long, but we were going to be gone for two nights. We had access to a kitchen, but I really didn’t want to dirty up more dishes than necessary. We also didn’t want to spend the money on meals that were elaborate. Thankfully, with the help of some prepared foods, we were able eat fairly healthfully and cheaply. While not exactly enlightening, I thought I’d share a few tips and meal ideas that we used for eating vegan on the road:

Breakfast: Homemade muffins or banana bread are perfect because they travel well and last a while. If you don’t have the extra time to bake, bagels or cereal are a great standby.

Lunch: Again, homemade is always better, but canned soups, along with Daiya cheese, crackers and sliced fruit are always a good way to go. If you need to eat while on the road, pasta salad, tabouli and hummus, or chickpea salad sandwiches are great options.

Dinner: Casseroles that you make ahead of time are my favorite because all you have to do is heat it up when you get to your destination. Lasagna works in the same way. But if you do have to cook, basic spaghetti is quick and can easily be rounded out by mixed salad greens and freezer rolls. Veggie burgers and oven fries work well here, too.

Snacks: Cliff bars, nuts, dried fruit, bananas, homemade cookies — all pack well and will last from the beginning of the trip to the end.

The one thing we’re bad about doing is not planning for the trip back. This happened when we took a road trip to Florida last fall. That’s when we usually hit up Taco Bell for a Fresco Bean Burrito or a Seven Layer without cheese or sour cream. It’s not great for you, but it’s vegan.

What meals to you like to take with you on the road? I’d love to hear your ideas.

Confessions of a Bad Vegan

I’ve been a bad vegan. I’m not going to lie: I slipped and had dairy and fish and I feel horrible about it. It all started with my brother’s wedding the week before last. It was a destination wedding, which required a very quick, 10-hour trip down to Destin, Florida. The trip started out well. I actually planned ahead and made food for the entire duration of our quick, four-day trip, with the exception of dinner because we knew we’d eat out with the wedding party. I made pumpkin muffins, eggless egg salad, roasted vegetable sandwiches, and brought chips, a dark chocolate bar, and some lemon cookies for snacks. Everything was vegan.

We weren’t even a few hours on the road before we made our first offense. We had to stop to get gas and noticed a Cracker Barrel across the street. Now, Cracker Barrel is bad for a number of reasons that I won’t go into, but we ended up going in and each ordering the vegetable plate. I ordered mine with the fried okra, baby carrots, coleslaw, and the mac and cheese. All vegetarian, but not at all vegan.

For the rest of the road trip we behaved, eating only what we had packed in the cooler, and it was delicious. The roasted vegetable sandwiches were taken from a Vegan Yum Yum recipe and were out of this world! So simple, but very flavorful.

Our second offense came the first night we were in Destin. Instead of going out to eat with the rest of the wedding party, we opted to run to the grocery for dinner and stay at the condo so I could finish some work. We ran up to The Fresh Market and ended up with a horribly bland margarita pizza and a salad. Once again, both vegetarian, but not at all vegan.

Our third offense came when we went out after the wedding. The Irish pub-style restaurant we went to had no vegetarian entrees, and I have a problem with consuming nothing but fries and salads for dinner, and not to mention that we needed something substantial to soak up the alcohol we had already consumed on an empty stomach. I broke down and had crab cakes, and my husband had the catfish. Neither vegetarian, nor vegan.

But our bad eating habits didn’t stop with our trip. Since coming home, I’ve had no problem sticking to my vegan diet while at home, but not so much whenever I’ve eaten out.

Now, I say all this not to shame anyone for eating dairy, or even meat, but just to show that no one is perfect. Regardless of the diet you adhere to, mistakes happen, but you can’t beat yourself up over them. All you can do is to try to make better choices the next time around. And that’s what I’m going to do. Despite my slip-ups, I love being vegan and have no plans to change anytime soon.