Along with all the cookouts and picnics that usually signify the glory days of summer, it also means travel time for many of us as well.
Traveling is a blast, but can also sometimes prove to be a little daunting when you start to wonder what you’ll eat when you’re far from the comforts of what you know at home.
As someone who is not only vegan, but also has a few health-related dietary restrictions, I can assure you that “daunting” does not mean impossible. In fact, I like to think of my travel as a bit of a culinary adventure.
Have fun with the activities you choose, and the foods you eat! Food is a part of the journey. While I don’t have any big travel plans this summer, I’m sure I’ll find myself on a local road trip or two.
Here are my top five tips for healthy, vegan eating on the road:
1. Do your research ahead of time.
Go on vacation with a game plan. Having an idea of what types of restaurants and cuisines are available where you’re going before you get there allows you to spend more time enjoying your trip instead of figuring out where you can eat. It also makes things less frustrating because you already have some options in mind.
2. When you choose a restaurant, find out what policies are in place regarding food preparation.
Some things to ask about:
-are they making the vegan items on the same grill as the meat; is the *insert menu item* deep fried or cooked in a lot of oil?
-is there cross contamination in food handling. For example, is there cheese getting dropped into the salsa every time a burrito is made?
-are there hidden ingredients in sauces; do they make the seasonings in house?
If you find yourself in a situation where no vegan entree options are available, check out what they offer for sides. Even a steak house has vegetables, and you can likely ask that they be cooked in oil or water. It may not be the most exciting meal of your life, but it will keep you fed.
3. Bring food with you.
It’s an excellent idea to pack meals and snacks before you hit the road. If I’ll be in the car, I usually travel with a cooler so that I can keep my options more open. I’ve packed everything from sandwiches and hummus to quinoa salad and smoothies. For other times, non-perishable foods are great. Oatmeal packets and instant soups only require hot water and you can eat them anywhere. I was stranded late one night in the Las Vegas airport with no food options. Fortunately, I had planned ahead and had a Dr. McDougall’s soup cup in my bag. I tracked down some hot water and voila! Dinner was served.
4. Locate the nearest grocery store.
Health food stores are especially useful for healthy, vegan eating. Pick up your own snacks and food instead of being tied to a restaurant’s offering. Even if you can’t find a natural foods store, you can likely find fresh fruits and veggies just about anywhere, in any country you may be traveling to and fix yourself a simple meal on the go.
5. Pack a reusable water bottle.
Water seems like a given, but you’d be surprised how often having something to drink is not at the forefront of your mind when you’re on the go. Having a reusable water bottle ensures that you can always fill up; sometimes bottled water just may not be available. Plus, it’s better for the environment. Depending on where you’re traveling, you may even want to bring a travel filtration system. Even if you’re in your hometown, having a bottle filled with water will be a lifesaver when you’re stuck in traffic and suddenly find yourself thirsty. Trust me on this one!
How do you prepare for healthy, vegan travel? Leave your tips in the comments below!
Also by Christine: Ultimate Virgin Bloody Mary
Photo: Christine Oppenheim