McDonald’s. Roy Rodgers. Cinnabon.
Drive another 200 miles.
Wendy’s. Applebees. Auntie Annes.
I just drove 1,754 miles to Denver, Colorado as a vegan and I formulated a little list on things to remember when you are
traveling across the country with dietary restricitons. Inbetween major cities, the word ‘vegan’ does not seem to resonate with anybody, so you have to be prepared. ALSO this post can help even if you aren’t traveling and you want to stick to a vegan diet while eating out.
My trip started in New Jersey when I went to stay with my parents house for a couple days. My parents have a go-to place they go Friday and Saturday nights for dinner. The Village Pub in Logan Township, NJ is far from the ideal ‘vegan’ joint so here’s what I did.
1.) Scan the menu for any vegetarian dishes. What meatless choices does the place have to offer?
2.) Narrow it down to a few vegetarian dishes – now ask yourself, what can I eliminate to make it vegan?
Example: I noticed the village pub had a black bean veggie burger served on a brioche bun. I asked for my ‘burger’ patty
to be served on a bed of greens instead of a brioche bun, to be served without any cheese and to add avocado on top. I also asked for sweet potato fries. Because who doesn’t like fries.
3.) I know you’re thinking that’s annoying AF but what I try to do is make it a little bit of a joke. I always start the conversation with, “well i’m annoying BUT” even though I know i’m not annoying and it’s just how I eat. Some restaurants respond really well to a vegan diet, you would be surprised. Some will even make you a completely vegan “off-the-menu” dish, you
just have to speak up and be confident in what you do.
4.) If you’re dining with people you haven’t dined with before, I find it to be a great conversation starter. Most people I have
dined with have been very receptive to my diet and always want to hear more and love asking a lot of questions. Note: I never push my lifestyle on anybody. I try to lead by example and by being knowledgeable about the vegan lifestyle. I will never put down anybody for eating meat or having cheese, I practice compassion even when people might not agree with why I do what I do.
Okay, so I need to eat on the open road and i’m not sure that McDonald’s is gonna cut it.
1.) BE PREPARED. Pack high calorie snacks that are gonna sustain you throughout your trip. I’m not talking oreos and chips – pack something that is unprocessed… or you are going to have a major drop in your mood/energy level… and you’re going to stop at McDonald’s to refuel and fix your headache that you think is because you’re hungry…. but it’s actually because you’ve been eating shit the whole road trip. Bananas, coconut, seeds, nuts.
2.) What did I pack to sustain me through 8 hours of driving? Trail mix. Pecans, almonds, walnuts, dried rasins and
coconut. I never got hungry until dinner – and that was the goal. I also found a market with local apples at a rest stop
in Pennsylvania. So I loaded up on those. The main thing to remember is be prepared. Make sure you are getting in enough
calories and staying away from foods that are going to make you crash.
3.) Dinner. Not a lot of dinner spots unless you want Auntie Anne’s off I-70, so I always tried to stay in a town a little off
the highway – with some different dinner options. In Ohio, we had Chinese food which of course had a vegetarian section, and for my road trip companion, a full gluten free menu. In Missouri we ate at this adorable cafe – not a ton of vegan options, but I did what I did back in Jersey – add in things and eliminate things.
4.) The main thing i’m going to say — eating ‘clean’ or as clean as possible is JUST as important on the road as it is in your
daily life. Driving 8/9 hours a day is extremely taxing and if you have foods in your system that aren’t fueling you properly,
you are going to feel awful. I can honestly say I drove without any problems and made it to Denver in 3 full days of driving.
Happy to say I am now a resident of Denver, colorado. These past two days I have eaten at some very vegan-friendly places that offer me a full menu and I don’t have to worry about eliminating, adding, etc. I just eat. Sometimes that’s nice too.