Eating Vegan on the Road and in the Air

When it comes to traveling, I heed that old English proverb, “Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.”  I pack my suitcase with snacks like nuts and fruit, and I put individual-sized boxes of rice milk into a sealable container with spoons and a bag of cereal.  That way, even without a refrigerator I can eat cereal for breakfast inside of the container and just rewash it.  If I’m flying, I prepare enough food for my carry-on that I have plenty to keep me satisfied until I reach my destination.  In some cases, I’ve felt like a rockstar when a flight attendant delivered my special meal first on the plane, while other hungry riders looked on with envy.  In other cases, I was relieved I had a back-up meal in my bag.

Before I depart I visit Happy Cow and check out what vegan and vegetarian restaurants are in the area where I’ll be visiting, and I print out a Word document, so that I have the addresses on hand.  If I’m really ahead of the game, I’ll even Mapquest directions between the hotel and the various restaurants I want to try.

Sometimes I wonder what I did on vacations before going vegan.  I love to check out the local vegan and vegetarian restaurant scene and sample their regional cuisine.  For a weekend in the Windy City, I hit Chicago Diner and Karyn’s Cooked.  In Lucerne, Switzerland, it was Hofgarten, in Iowa City, The Red Avocado, and in Sedona, D’lish.  In Seattle I dined at Café Flora and Carmelita and even took a taxi to Mighty O Donuts, not knowing just how far it was from my hotel.  By the time I realized the distance, I was at the point of no return.  I paid $40/one way for donuts and then took the bus back.

In preparation for my trip to England last fall, I created a PDF of all of the vegan and vegetarian restaurants in London.  It was ridiculous and wonderful.  There were 40 pages!  So I tried to pare it down to just the ones on the must-see list.  One restaurant that made the cut was Rootmaster, which is a restaurant that’s inside of a double-decker bus.  It seemed like such a quintessential London attraction, it had to be seen.  The bottom part of the bus is used as the kitchen, and the top part has table seating.  The bus was lit inside by candlelight, and was surprisingly romantic for a restaurant inside of previously-used public transportation.

Photo by Patrick Shipstad

I’m always on the look out for meals that would travel well in a sealable container in a carry-on or packed in a cooler for a roadtrip.  My friend, Leah, made tonight’s dinner of Pasta Salad with Veggies, Pine Nuts, and Fresh Herbs from Vegan Table, and it would be an excellent choice.   This dish is packed with artichokes and raw vegetables and seasoned with basil, tarragon, lemon juice, and vinegar.  Leah made the pasta salad with no oil and added a generous smattering of fresh dill. Each of us tweaked the dish to our own personal preferences.  Leah loves the pungent taste of vinegar, and so she added extra red wine vinegar.  I enjoy mustard and a bit of heat, and so I added red pepper flakes and stone ground mustard. The pasta salad would also be great with the addition of kidney, garbanzo, or cannellini beans.  Colleen recommends serving this salad with the Better-Than-Tuna Salad, and that would be a perfect pairing.  So carry this onto your next flight, but please, try not to gloat too much while your seatmate is choking down complimentary pretzels.