Tips for traveling while vegan {Vegan MoFo #16}

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by JL Fields on October 22, 2012

Last week I spent 36 hours on the road for work: destination Atlantic City.  I had been warned that A.C. was not a very vegan-friendly spot but  I guess I lucked out because the restaurants in my hotel, Revel, had some pretty decent options.  When I arrived I had lunch at Amada, starting with olives for a nosh…

…and Ensalada Verde (Green Salad with Asparagus, Favas, Avocado, Green Beans, hold the cheese).

Amada on Urbanspoon
After an afternoon of work I hit up the casino.

love playing Wheel of Fortune machines!  I collected my winnings and stopped by the lobby bar for a glass of wine.  I love Pinot Noir from the Carneros region (be sure to check out my most excellent adventure at Schug Carneros Estate)

I especially love a Pinot Noir from the Carneros region that labels itself loud and proud…

…as vegan!

I went back to my hotel room to work and decided to call a vegan-friendly restaurant that my friend Ethan told me about.  It’s known as Veggie Pizza and Veggie Grille AC – I know it as YUM.  They deliver!

I had the “wings,” a spelt pocket, and a salad.

Happy vegan!

The next morning I grabbed a quick breakfast at another hotel restaurant, Alcove.

The Healthy Start with seasonal berries, granola, melon, hold the yogurt, add some soy milk.

After a long morning of meetings my colleagues and I grabbed a quick lunch at the hotel’s Sky Cafe, where I had a salad with asparagus, edamame and mushrooms. SO good!

Later that afternoon I dashed off to the train station – that has no restaurants, or even vending machines! What’s a vegan to do when she’s going to be on a train during dinner?  She phones Veggie Grille AC and asks, oh-so-nicely, if they will deliver to the train station. They did – another Atlantic City win!

Wait! Where are the tips?  And I thought this Vegan MoFo theme was about tips in the kitchen?

Hey, restaurant food is made in a kitchen!

Here are just a few simple tips for traveling while vegan:

  1. Ask for recommendations from people you trust. Whenever I’m going to a new city I send out tweets and Facebook messages asking folks for their favorite vegan-friendly restaurants.
  2. If you’re going to stay in a hotel check out the restaurant menus in advance.  I knew before I left for Atlantic City that I could do some creative ordering at the hotel (hold this, add that) and I would be just fine.
  3. If you’re going to be in a city for a few days, call the hotel and request a refrigerator (bonus if they offer a microwave!).  Then research to find the local health food store or Whole Foods and stock up on a few things.
  4. When at restaurants, ask the right questions and don’t assume your server knows what vegan means.  (Let us not forget my unfortunate veggie burger incident.)  I typically introduce myself as a vegan diner and explain that when it comes to eating, a vegan is the strictest kind of  vegetarian, so I don’t eat meat, fish, poultry – not even cheese, milk or eggs.  If I see options on the menu that look vegan, I inquire as to how the dish is prepared (butter?  eggs?) If nothing stands out as vegan I ask them what they typically offer their plant-based diners and/or I start asking what dishes on the menu can be modified.
  5. If I’m dining out with colleagues, and I know where we will be going in advance, I phone the restaurant and ask what options are available. Why?  So that being vegan doesn’t look like a “production” to my non-vegan co-workers. I like it to look nice and easy – because it really is, with a little planning – when I order my meal.

Here are a few places I’ve visited recently and how I ate:

I’m sure many of you have travel tips, too. Please share them!

  • They’re labelling wine now! What a happy day.

    • JL

      Isn’t it grand?!

  • Northwest Herbivore

    Good tips! Planning/researching ahead definitely makes a huge difference.

    I always make sure to have snacks with me, like Raw Revolution bars or even just some nuts. Not only is it a useful fallback if all else truly fails, but it can also buy you some decision time if you’re really hungry to find something better than just the-nearest-vegan-calories-you-can-find.

    Also, I love Justin’s nut butter packets for traveling because they’re TSA friendly (pack light on toiletries so you have room for a couple packets in your liquids bag!) and can turn a plain bagel, apple or banana that you can get just about anywhere into a snack with much more flavor, nutrition and staying power than those things would have on their own. Even vending-machine pretzels perk right up with some almond butter on them.

    • JL

      GREAT ideas! Thank you for sharing! I even sometimes keep nutritional yeast in a baggie and pour it over boring salads! LOL

  • After travelling a reasonable amount lately, this is a really handy list of tips 🙂

    • JL

      I’m so glad, @bitesizedthoughts:disqus !

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  • Mary Ciulla

    I’m redecorating my apartment, and I’m often home. I wish I lived in a city that delivers vegan, gluten-free food. Ordering from the usual menus is out of the question. I often use Asian restaurants, but sometimes I want Italian! If I can get a vegan meal, the restaurant doesn’t have gluten-free options. The restaurants who do have both of these options do not deliver.

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