Eating While Vegan: Travel Food Update
In just a few years, it has become so much easier to eat vegan while traveling. Why is That?
1. Veganism is growing exponentially, with much more awareness and acceptance of vegan diet. That’s the root cause.
2. Businesses have noticed that veganism has become cool, so they have been busy ramping up the production of vegan food to be sold in grocery stores.
3. Many more restaurants and grocery stores now cater to the vegan market, or at least have some vegan options.
So, every time we travel across country it gets easier. I still bring lots of food, and I still do some cooking in motel rooms for health and convenience.
But even if I didn’t do those things, I noticed that with the last trip we took, we could have made it from Fairfield IA to Pt. Townsend WA, with just a few snacks along for the ride, and we would have eaten really well!
Of course it would have cost a lot more, and it would have meant more detours into cities to track down restaurants and natural food stores. We thank the invention of GPS for making that SO much easier! I’m convinced that GPS has saved our marriage.
Vegan Diet has NOT become so well established that gas stations and fast food stores along the interstate sell food that vegans can eat. That’s why travelling vegans should bring a cooler with sandwich makings and snacks, and get off the highway to find veg friendly places.
Our M.O. on this last trip was to make cooked cereal in our motel room the evening of arrival, and put it in our thermoses. We’d eat breakfast on the road, then head to a city for lunch at a natural food store deli or veg friendly restaurant, then we’d have a sandwich for supper in our motel room.
Highlights from the vegan friendly stores and restaurants we found along the way:
1. Our first stop was the day before starting out, at Everybody’s Whole Foods in our hometown, Fairfield IA, to stock up on necessities for the trip. Everybody’s has a world class bulk food section and is very big on organic and local produce. Pretty good for a small town in the middle of nowhere S. E. Iowa! If you ever go there, be sure to visit Everybody’s!
2. Our second stop was lunch at Sanaa’s Gourmet Mediterranean Restaurant in Sioux Falls SD, a VERY popular veg and gf friendly eatery, which I highly recommend. It’s a big place, comfortable, warmly decorated, and reasonably priced, with all the tasty tasty food made from scratch, under the loving and watchful eye of owner/chef Sanaa Abourezk.
The GF Fatayer (Mediterranean calzone) with a walnut spinach olive filling was outstanding, as was the lentil soup, the quinoa salad, the baklava, the basmati rice pilaf … we could happily have eaten for hours, but the highway called. We’ll be BACK!
3. Billings MT: Happy Cow lists the Good Earth Market Co-op with a take-out deli, which we intended to visit, but ended up traveling on to Missoula MT instead. We are thrilled that such a place exists in Billings, plus several veg friendly Asian restaurants! Next trip we’ll head to Billings for a meal.
4. Missoula MT: A small college town, home of the non-profit Good Food Store, which started up in 1971 and has moved and expanded a number of times.
GFS is a large, high end natural food store, with a deli, cafe, and bakery, heavy on the (organic local) meat and cheese (this is Montana, don’t forget), but with a number of vegan options such as quinoa salad and black bean veggie burgers on the menu and gf options. Again, it was amazing and gratifying to find a store like this in a town this size.
5. Spokane: A quick detour off I-90 brought us to Boots Bakery and Lounge, where we bought a fantastic and inexpensive vegan lunch at their deli. Ate WAY more than we should have (I’ll have some of that and that and that and that) – it was all so delicious!
Just down the street from Boots, we were delighted to find the Main Market Co-op, where we grazed the excellent salad bar and bought some gf bread. They also have a wonderful looking deli. Spokane is generally very veg friendly with a lot of listings on Happy Cow.
6. Port Townsend, WA: Our destination, and home of The Food Co-op, a wonderful small town store which has kept its hippy roots, and serves its members faithfully. It’s a well stocked, friendly and fun place to shop, very big on amazing local produce, with a great bulk section, and nice deli where we ate several times. Apart from the co-op, PT restaurants don’t have a lot to offer for vegans. Fortunately we stayed with our daughter and son-in-law, where I was able to cook.
7. Vancouver, British Columbia is a vegetarian/vegan paradise. We spent a long weekend there and ate very very well. Happy Cow has 2 pages of veg listings for Vancouver alone, never mind Greater Vancouver cities of Richmond, West Vancouver, North Vancouver, Burnaby, Surrey etc.
A highlight of our Vancouver visit was supper at The Naam, a long established hippy flavored vegetarian restaurant which gets mixed reviews on Happy Cow. We didn’t have to wait more than 5 minutes at The Naam because we got there early. I enjoyed my Thai Coconut Curry very much, my husband loved his veggie burger, and there were many other vegan options on the menu. The Naam is busy, noisy, authentic, entertaining and inexpensive – all in all, An Experience Not to be Missed if you’re going to Vancouver.
8. Courtenay, British Columbia: We attended a family reunion to celebrate my twin sisters’ 80th birthday. No, I’m not 80, the twins are! The veg friendly listings for the small town on Northern Vancouver Island are The Edible Island Co-op and the Rawthentic Vegan Eatery where I didn’t eat because the entire weekend was about eating and partying with my very large extended family. Not many vegan options! But one of my nieces made a kick ass Asian slaw which we gobbled down.
9. Springfield MO: We stopped to visit our daughter Zoe and family for a few weeks before heading home. One of the most exciting places to shop in Springfield is Mama Jean’s Market, an outstanding natural food store, with no less than three locations in a city of 162,000.
Mama Jean’s produce section is small, but excellent – the manager gets very good deals on organic produce. The bulk section is phenomenal, with a great selection of gluten free flours and grains. The flours especially were very well priced, so I stocked up before heading home. Plus, MJ’s has an excellent deli.
Springfield also has one of the best farmer’s markets I’ve ever seen, with a huge selection and great prices. And there’s a Chipotle restaurant, where we sometimes grab a black bean burrito.
Except for Vancouver and other big cities like Seattle, San Francisco and New York, vegan diet is still not well supported in most places. For example, all-vegan restaurants are rare. Many natural food stores are big on pasture raised organic meat and dairy and less enthused about vegan food. But at least there IS vegan food!
In small town U.S.A, vegans still struggle – but not nearly as much, because now we can order online. And even Walmart has vegan food.
Things are getting A Whole Lot Better everywhere for vegans, which makes vegan travel SO much more fun.