Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Vegan on the Road

Vegan on the Road: What's a Vegan Girl to Do?

Clearly I have been slacking lately. I am getting married in less than 3 weeks and on the nights I used to blog, I am doing wedding planning. :) I have been on the road a lot lately and had trouble finding things I could eat on the road. I thought that probably many vegans have the same problems.

Eating greens, veggies, beans, and whole grains takes extra thought and planning when one is eating at home. When a vegan is on the road, maintaining a healthy vegan diet can prove to be even more challenging. So what is a vegan to do? I will outline a few of my go-to-on-the-road staples that will hopefully help you to avoid going hungry.

Here is the scenario, you have been driving for about 3 hours (we vegans get hungry quickly) and you are STARVING, but all you see on the highway are fast food chains. Cheese and meat are ubiquitous at these places and, unfortunately, fresh greens and tofu are not. You start thinking about your dream vegan meal. Maybe it is a fresh kale salad, a warm and "cheesy" vegan pizza, or a tempeh reuben. At least so far, I can't help you find any of these prime choices on the road, but I can steer you in the direction of some decent vegan dishes that are available at some of the bigger chains. Below are some places that serve vegan food on the go.

When I am on the road for a while, this is one of my top choices. First of all, the atmosphere in Chipotle is clean and it doesn't feel like fast food. Vegans can get a burrito bowl filled with brown rice, black beans (the pinto beans have bacon in them so be careful), corn, grilled veggies, guacamole, lettuce, and salsa. I actually recommend skipping the veggies entirely because they are too oily. This burrito bowl is actually really filling, costs $7.49, and only has 575 calories - if you leave out the oily veggies. Oh, and the best thing about Chipotle – free seltzer! I also love their indie music selection.

The biggest drawback to Chipotle is the high sodium. The burrito bowl above has about 1900mg's of sodium! That is a lot for someone used to eating veggies. For this reason, I wouldn't recommend it all the time, just in a vegan emergency!

Moe's also has a vegan burrito bowl. They offer tofu, which is actually quite tasty. Again, the veggies are rather oily so I stick with the tofu and beans. I also really like Moe's pickled jalapeño's! They make a great spicy addition to the meal. Their burrito bowl without  veggies has about 457 calories and costs $7.39.

The negative aspects to Moe's also include high sodium. There are about 1700mg's of sodium in the burrito bowl I suggested. The atmosphere in Moe's is also very fast-foody. It smells like
grease, the staff has to wear annoying loud uniforms, and the menu looks more like a McDonalds menu than anything else. Additionally, all of their food comes with deep fried chips, which of course you can just ask not to have but it enhances the fast-food feel.

Of course, if you are in a big city you can find vegan solace at Whole Foods. I love their vegan pizza (if that was your craving, I came through for you!), salads, vegan Indian food, and smoothies! It is great because you can mix and match different foods on your plate. There are usually nice places to sit indoors and outdoors. The atmosphere is usually clean and it is a great
place to unwind!

The best part of going to Whole Foods…Kombucha!
The drawbacks to Whole Foods are the sodium and the costs. While I doubt the sodium is anywhere near the levels at Chipotle and Moes, I can't be sure because they don't have the same nutrition labeling for their hot food. Whole Foods is also about twice as expensive. There are no free drinks here (unless you want to drink out of the faucet…..in the bathroom.....) and I am always surprised at how much a salad costs. It is also a little annoying because everything is sold by weight, which means I am paying the same per pound for chickpeas that someone is paying for beef or fish. It seems a little unfair to the vegans and vegetarians, clearly we are supplementing the more expensive meat, fish, and cheese.

Those are my best vegan to-go suggestions. If all else fails, it is always a good idea to stop at a grocery store and get some fresh fruit, hummus, and crackers. As you can see, these options are vegan but not as healthy as some homemade vegan cooking or fresh greens. As a result, it is important to pack as much as you can from home. For example, I like to load up on apples,  bananas, homemade granola, and maybe some vegan cookies so I don't have to get too much out. However, especially in the heat, this isn't always possible. When it's not, now you know where to go!

If you are in another town or city, you can also check out a great vegan/vegetarian website finder.

Where do you go for vegan solace on the road? 

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