Eating “healthy” Vegan on the road
My wife and I love to travel, and we love good food. Unfortunately, those two do not easily go hand in hand since we adopted a whole food, plant-based vegan diet. Eating healthy on the road presents challenges, but don’t let that keep you at home.
Below are my five tips that can keep you eating healthy (and vegan) while seeing new places.
1. Drive instead of fly.
When possible, drive. We have found that we can control our food options much better on the road. We always bring a cooler with our dinner for that first night in a hotel. We have found that packing a big, fresh, home-made salad works fabulously. It includes the usual greens and veggies as well as black beans, avocado and olives, giving us a complete meal with protein, fat and fiber. As for snacks in the car, we have replaced bags of m&m’s with apples, bananas and boxes of raisins. As a special treat, we often pick up a giant vegan soft pretzel at our local bakery to split along the way. It’s the little things that makes this vegan happy.
If driving is not an option, reach out to the airlines ahead of time; many of them will make vegan options available upon request. Be sure to make the request at least 24 hours in advance. If the flight does not include a meal, avoid airport food by packing food to eat. Our go to option is an almond butter and jam sandwich with sliced apples on the side. It is easy to pack, easy to eat on the go (no mess) and the protein and fat combination in the nut butter is very satisfying. Almond butter contains heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, vitamin E, magnesium and calcium – all good stuff. The apple provides many benefits, including electrolytes, mineral salts and such trace minerals as manganese. It also has traces of flavonoids, rutin and quercetin, which are phytochemicals responsible for heavy metal and radiation detoxification – the perfect snack for flying.
2. Research restaurants ahead of time.
Do a little pre-travel research to seek out potential restaurants that serve healthy vegan options. We have found that planning ahead helps to lessen the stress and bring the joy back to being on the road.
Here are some great resources that can help.
- happycow.net: finds restaurants that are vegan friendly.
- vegantravel.com: is a community resource where vegans around the world share their passion for travel and adventure
- yelp.com: Simply type “vegan” and see what pops up. Be sure to read reviews.
- Your Accommodations: Ask the staff if they have any vegan restaurant options in the area.
3. Contact restaurants ahead of time.
We have found that most restaurants are very accommodating and can “veganize” a meal even if they have no options on their menu. You may be surprised to learn how many dishes can easily be made vegan by simply omitting or swapping out a few ingredients.
4. Whole Foods Market.
See if there is a Whole Foods Market (or a similar grocery store) in the city where you are staying. Whole Foods has a deli and food bars that can make grabbing a vegan meal easy. Plus, visiting the grocery will give you a chance to replenish your fruit and other snacks.
5. Oatmeal for Breakfast.
Make “oatmeal to go” for breakfast. (See recipe below.) This has been a game changer for us. We do this whether we are driving or flying. The good news is that all the simple ingredients are pre-packed; all you need is a source for hot water and 20 minutes. It’s easy to find hot water at hotels and airports; we have found Starbucks very accommodating about providing us with hot water.
Oatmeal To GODifficulty: Easy
1/2 Cup of old-fashioned Organic Oats
1 Tbs Flaxseed
Handful of Nuts (mixture of pecans, walnuts, and almonds is flavorful)
Handful of Raisins
1/2 Tsp of Cinnamon (or to taste)
- Place all ingredients in a small container with a tight lid. Shake well to mix them up. When you are ready to eat, add 3/4 cup of hot water and set the timer on your phone for 20 minutes. Enjoy!