On my most recent trip I ended up in the Grand Canyon, which actually has it’s own town, but is pretty scarce on vegan options. Luckily I had a cooler full of great vegan grub (veggie burgers that are great cold, hummus, guacamole and pre-made quinoa I got the day before at a Whole Foods when I stocked up in their deli). So my wife, our friend Richard and I hiked to a remote part of the rim and enjoyed a great lunch with our feet dangling thousands of feet from the bottom of the canyon.
Here is a list of things I’ve learned about the best, easiest, and most filling way to travel if you’re vegan.
This is the most important thing to do since not all restaurants or even small grocery stores have vegan options. Use the following tips before you leave your house. The more you plan, the easier it will be to eat when you’re hungry and away from your home.
HAVE A STASH
Keep food on your person or in your vehicle at all times, so if you can’t find anything vegan or know there’s nothing vegan where you are, you’re still covered. Things like not-delicate fruit and veggies, pre-made (at home) snacks or portable meals (my quinoa salad is a great go-to travel meal), energy bars, nuts and seeds — things that store easy and are hardy enough to last days or weeks make the best stash.
THE INTERNET IS YOUR FRIEND
Google where to find vegan grub in the places you’re going, find vegan bloggers who live there and pick their brains, use location-based mobile apps (like VegOut on the iPhone), or send out a tweet tagged with the city (and it’s airport code) asking for vegan suggestions. There are also lots of vegan groups online that are location/city specific that post information publicly. If you’re traveling in a different country with crazy data-roaming rates, do this before you leave home or at a hotel or café with wi-fi.
DON’T EXPECT TO BE CATERED TO
Although it’d be great if every restaurant had vegan options, some don’t even know exactly what “vegan” means (bonus: share my article with them in a friendly manner!). So don’t expect anything, but be vocal about how grateful you are if they can accommodate. It’s also helpful to ask the host/hostess before being seated if you can see a menu, or better yet, call ahead if you can. If they have something vegan, awesome! If not, ask if something vegan can be made. That way you aren’t wasting your time or theirs.
GET LEARNED ON UNINTENTIONAL VEGAN FOOD
As a last resort, there are a lot of conventional food that’s vegan by accident. It might not be the healthiest, but if you’re starving, it can be your only option. Things like Oreos, some chips (although make sure they don’t have milk!), Swedish fish, skittles, some dark chocolates, some breads (read ingredient list for eggs/milk/whey), most humus, probably all salsa, corn chips, etc are vegan. I’ve eaten a lot of tortilla chips with salsa/humus, and it might not be exciting, but it if you eat enough of it, you’ll at least be full enough to get to a better vegan option later.
Nowadays there are great vegan options in unlikely places. I’ve had some of my favorite and most satisfying meals in the middle of no where or in places I thought were totally carnivore-centric. So hold back judgement on towns or restaurants until you’ve actually checked if they can accommodate you. You might be surprised how deliciously they can fix you up something that’s not on their menu. And finally, if you find a spot with killer vegan grub, get a dish to go, so you have a second meal later on or the next day!