Summertime, and the living is easy.... and so is eating too much crapola as you travel. It is always easier to stick to any type of diet when you're at home in a situation where you're cooking for yourself or your family. I am not going to sugar coat it, plant-based eating on the road can be a bit rough at times. I've been doing it for 2 1/2 years, and I wouldn't have it any other way. In the beginning, I would drive my family crazy when I couldn't find anything to eat. I've done this long enough now to know what I need to take with me, and how to get prepared ahead of time. Sane family = happy times on vacation and my running all over creation to find something to eat was annoying to the 3 guys who had to run around with me. Why fight over food, when you can instead argue over who is sleeping with who? Let your obstacles be your inspiration and just make it happen.
I have a friend who travels a lot for work and uses it as an excuse to not go plant based in the first place. “I'm always traveling, how could I possibly go plant-based? Too many business dinners. It's impossible.“ Anything is possible once you commit. It is a bit tougher, but it pays off big time. You might even change a life of someone else at the table in the process. Healthy eating is infectious. Order a vegan meal in Salt Lake City and your business "buddy" next to you might take notice and ask about why you are eating that way. Of course, your explanation of why is so compelling that he now wants to try it himself.
Here are some tips to help you stay well fed and happy while you travel. Whether it be for work or summer travel, there are many options to enjoy. You just need to change your mindset. No, you can't just walk into anywhere and grab something. You need to PLAN AHEAD!! The extra effort, as always will pay off in that you can fight all of the nasty germs floating around on the plane, offset the fact that you might not be getting your regular workouts in because you're traveling, and decrease the fatigue that goes along with traveling because eating better definitely makes you feel more awake and alive.
Listen, some of these suggestions might sound ridiculous to you. They are just some of the things that I have found helpful. I am headed to NYC today and I know where I am staying has a blender so the mini magic bullet stays home this time. I will head to the closest Whole Foods or Trader Joes as soon as I get there and stock up! There are TONS of vegan options in NYC so no worries about dining out there. Portsmouth NH where we are headed next, has a great looking "Health Food center" so I am good there too. Check out my instagram at chrissyroth2 as I post my meals on the go.
Surviving on the go:
1. Google ahead of your travels and figure out what restaurants and food stores will have the best options for you. You can call ahead to some of the smaller natural food stores and they will have your bag of groceries packed up and ready to go so you can just run in. There's also a Trader Joe's or Whole Foods just about anywhere I go now. It is always my first stop. I always stock up on fruit and whatever veggies will hold for short amount of time in the hotel room. I'll also grab some crackers, hummus, almond butter, some type of bread, a couple cans of beans (I actually bring a small can opener.) A whole grain pita with almond butter and bananas is super satisfying when you come back to your room starving because your only option was a burger at your business lunch. When I get to my hotel room, I always ask for a plate and some forks and knives to be brought up so they are there when I need them.
2. If possible, rent a house versus staying in a hotel. Believe it or not, it is usually cheaper then a hotel! Eating every meal out is tough, so if it is an option, VRBO it, and live like a local. Hit up the farmer's market close to where your staying and enjoy the fresh local produce. Get to know the natural food store in town. Look into restaurants that serve some plant-based options and have dinner there. Look at preparing some of your food on vacation as a treat, not a chore. I VRBO 90% of the time on my travels.
3. When you know you're going to be dining out, call the restaurant ahead of time and see what they can do for you regarding keeping it plant-based. Generally, chefs don't understand what plant-based is so just ask for no oil or low oil vegan meal. At least over the phone you don’t have to see the eye roll. All kidding aside, I've done this many times and if I ask the chef he can usually come up with something that is quite good. I've had lots of people eating off of my plate at restaurants wondering how I ended up with such an amazing off- menu meal.
4. Pack up the mini magic bullet and bring it with you. When you have to eat out at a business dinner and there are very few options, the magic bullet becomes even more magical!! When you get back from the dinner you hardly ate and can have a shake, it is a life saver. It is also great for a quick breakfast on the go. Get your run in, make a shake and bag the hotel bacon and eggs.
5. If the town doesn’t have a vegan restaurant (of course you have googled ahead to find this out), look for ethnic restaurants. They often have more veggie options than good ‘ol standard American death-come-early-to-ya food. Thai and Indian have lots of plant based options. Request no oil or super low oil if they won’t do no oil, and it often works out quite well. I will usually bend my oil restriction a bit on vacation. I would rather not, but sometimes it is nearly impossible to eat oil free on the go.
6. If all else fails, order side dishes. I'm the queen of side dishes. I'm always satisfied and happy trying a bunch of different veggie sides. A salad, broccoli, and a baked potato (or 2) are a perfect dinner in a limited option situation.
7. Bar up! I am not at all a huge fan of protein bars as they are processed and generally not whole foods. That said, they are some of my little bff's when I travel. Go Macro Bars, Cliff Builders, Lar, Alt, and Simply Protein bars are some of my go to's. When traveling, I usually go for the higher protein content bars because I seem to be lacking in that nutrient when I travel. I can not always get my hands on beans, tofu or lentils, so I end up getting it from a bar. It's a quick fix. The reason, in general, that I hate bars is because people are usually shoving so much animal protein in their mouths, then grabbing these high-protein bars (most of which contain whey, casein, and other animal protein.) Unnecessary and dangerous. They usually contain more sugar and/or fat than is healthy as well, so better not to make a daily habit of them.
8. Chill baby, baby. Don't stress yourself out. In the beginning I would get so crazy when I traveled and end up not eating anything and being miserable. It will totally work out. Again, it's just a change in mindset. Vacations, for too many people, mean gluttony. Work trips mean sitting there with a bunch of other businessmen/women eating steaks and other foods drowning in oil. It doesn't have to be that way. Treat yourself to a new drink, find a fabulous vegan restaurant, walk to the local farmer's market, or find a beautiful hike to satisfy you. It's all about the choices, and planning ahead.