Whenever I get to a city, whether they have a lot of vegan options or not, my first stop is always to go to the local, fresh grocery store. Most of my work travels are throughout Texas so I am admittedly spoiled when it comes to great grocery stores, with both Central Market and Whole Foods offering a plethora of vegan breads, spreads and sides. But even in the not as easy to choose vegan areas like much of Florida, the local Publix will have a few options for you, you just have to hunt for them. I stock up on a loaf of bread, an all natural nut butter, and a ton of fresh fruit and veggies. I always make sure my hotel room comes with a mini-fridge to keep my items fresh for my week-long adventure. For the most part, I try not to buy anything that comes from a factory – so most of the foods I eat are truly natural and fresh. Having an assortment to choose from allows me to know that my trip will be mostly healthy even if I can’t make it to the vegan cafe by the end of the day.
I also do as much research as possible before I arrive, and look for the Middle Eastern, Thai and Indian restaurants as my main option, knowing that they can easily throw together a healthy, dairy-free vegetable and grain meal for me much easier and often much tastier than the typical American or Italian option.
When all else fails, there’s a Chipotle in almost every city I’ve visited, and whether it’s a marketing ploy or not, they are proud to say they will accompany vegans and vegetarians alike. I’ll go with their vegetable and black bean bowl, with guac and spicy salsa, and normally will not get sick after eating it.
By sick, I think all vegans know what I mean when you go to a place that says they will accommodate a vegan diet and the next morning you wake up with an upset stomach and know they mistakenly added butter or dairy to what you ordered. We’ve all been there, and it sucks. As the vegan lifestyle becomes more prominent, I know chefs will begin to accommodate more and accept our lifestyle without adding dairy to their veggies. Until then, from time to time, we’ll have to pay for a sloppy meal even after quizzing the waitstaff on what is added to their foods.