I knew two things about my family reunion. It would be very fun, and there would be a lot of meat there. My cousin Peter with a lot of pride, had taken the year perfecting his smoked beef brisket and was very excited to bring it along. The place we go has a notoriously meat based menu. Even the pancakes are made with lard. Breakfast usually consists of eggs, pancakes (made with lard to make the crispy) sausage, bacon, and kielbasi. Dinner is usually stuffed cabbage stuffed with beef and rice, and some other type of meat. There are usually some pretty sad looking vegetables sitting off in the corner drowning in oil. My family has been going to his place for about 60 years as my grandparents helped build it. The home was actually built in 1905 by group of Russian immigrants and for years Russian, Ukrainian, and a few Pole families have been getting out of New York City to take refuge in this beautiful place in the Appalachians. Russians (as well as lots of other cultures.... meat = prosperity) thought they had made it when they had a lot of meat to eat and could steer away from the borscht, potatoes, and cabbage. And so the tradition continued. So what was a veggie girl to do?
Before we left my parent's place on Long Island to drive up there I told my mom that I was going to make a huge kale salad and bring it up there. She said that there would be plenty of food and that I probably didn't need to, but I reminded her that I probably would not eat any of the food which could make for a pretty sad few days. I made the salad, a beautiful one where I took 15 minutes massaging the kale, then made the lemon, olive oil, salt, pepper, maple syrup, and mustard dressing. I chopped up some dates and got some pumpkin seeds and put them in a separate bowl. I also grabbed a loaf of gluten-free bread and some almond butter since I knew I wasn't going to be able to eat any of the bread there either. I also threw some fruit in a bag as well as a large watermelon and a couple of Luna bars.
We got there in time for breakfast and the fare was as usual… Lots-o-animal based foods. I found a packet of oatmeal and made do with that. I had also brought some almond milk so I threw that in there. Luckily they had some beautiful peaches too so I had one of those and a banana. So far so good. We swam in the gorgeous lake and worked up and appetite and lunch came around and it worked out just fine with the salad. One of my cousins had brought baked beans and as luck would have it, they were vegetarian and delicious! Aside from a lot of my relatives being sad that I wasn't going to eat the brisket they didn't give me too much trouble and just called me California girl. They actually loved my salad. Duncan enjoyed the brisket. I try not to get too obsessed when he has meat because he hardly has it anymore and eats so well. JD and Coop were visiting JD's family at the Jersey shore and I don't even want to know what they were eating. It is a vegan's nightmare there. Long story but we had to divide and conquer the family visits this year so we went our separate ways. We did spent time in NYC though and thanks to all the great salad and juice joints there my lunches were awesome and I can always find something on a dinner menu. In fact, we stayed at the Soho Grand and the little restaurant there had amazing braised black kale and a quinoa and veggie dish that I asked for with no oil and it was amazing. I am definitely not buying it from people anymore when they say that they have so much trouble when they are away. I think it's more of a case of they want to indulge because they are away. I did have a slice of pizza at Fiori's pizza because it is the best pizza on the planet and the gluten stomachache is actually worth it. I toke most of the cheese off and loved every bite. Not exactly WFPB but I am 95% of the time so I am definitely not about to beat myself up. I eat lots of vegan meals but am not vegan so it's all good. I can cheat once in a while. A piece of pizza here, or a gf cookie there, but I have worked with some people who if they have one of these triggers drift over relatively quickly to the dark side. You have to decide if you are on of these people or not and then act accordingly.
Dinner both nights was a little challenging but they had a toaster so I toasted some bread and had an almond butter sandwich with banana on it. I was able to find some veggies that weren't too oily as well. I also had a salad which was pretty fresh and had lots of veggies on it so my dinner was pretty perfect. I had bought some gluten-free cookies from the Kings Park bakery on Long Island that are outstanding (not WFPB but like the pizza, a rare occasion) and had those for dessert. The next day went just about the same way food wise and I left feeling really good about being able to stay WFPB while on vacay with a bunch of serious meat eaters.
My point to this post was not to tell you all about my family vacation, but to relate that it takes some planning to stick with a whole food plant based diet. Don't rely on the fact that where you are going "probably" has something that you can eat. I think it is safer to assume in the situations that they probably will not. I advised people do this even before I was fully behind a WFPB diet. Eating well takes planning and feeling as good as you will eating WFPB is worth the time.
I am Chrissy Roth, a mom, wife, Physical Therapist, Spin Instructor, and Wellness Coach with a Certificate in Plant Based Nutrition. I've had a passion for health and nutrition my whole life and have always been drawn towards prevention. Why wait until your fat or sick or both to do something about your health? I'm looking to be the healthiest me NOW and am always sharing what I know. I love a challenge... 2 boys who think they are cavemen and a husband who wants to go veggie but hates beans, tofu, legumes, and most nuts.... I WILL make this happen cause that's how I roll (whole grain of course)...