Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Traveling While Vegan

Destinations: Colorado & California

@ the airport

Airport food is not very vegan friendly, so you should definitely pack something to eat if you're going to be on a long flight. Food can be brought into security, but drinks cannot. Almost all airport restaurants are fast food restaurants, and no vegan fast food place has gone mainstream (yet). Reagan had a couple of vegan-friendly restaurants (&pizza, Cava), but I was so afraid of missing my flight that I didn't go explore. I eventually conceded to my hunger on my way to California and got a veggie sub without cheese at Denver International's Quizno's, but I'm not quite sure if the sandwich was vegan. I didn't feel like dealing with another uninformed cashier (more on that later), so I didn't bother asking whether the rest of the sub e.g. the dressing contained any animal byproducts. On the way home, I grabbed some oatmeal from McDonald's because the McDonald's was literally in front of my gate at Santa Ana. You'll have to ask for the oatmeal to be cooked in water not cream. Aside from oatmeal, the only other vegan thing at McDonald's is the apple pie. Their fries are not vegan because the oil they're cooked in contains beef. I stopped liking McDonald's fries a while ago without even knowing they were cooked in meat. It's like I subconsciously knew the fries weren't vegan.

in the city

Traveling while vegan in a major metropolitan city is easy. The only problem-I wasn't actually staying in a metropolitan city. My friend lives in between Denver and Boulder, two very vegan friendly cities. The town in between? Not so much. I usually have a lot of restaurants bookmarked on Yelp, but I figured since I was going to be a big city, I would simply type in "vegan" on the app, and quickly find a restaurant. In the words of Donald J. Trump, "WRONG!" My first meal in Colorado was a slice of pita bread with hummus-the variety pack-from Trader Joe's. I arrived pretty late so every restaurant was closed. We drove around trying to find a restaurant that was still open, but I said "Forget it. I'll just sleep my hunger off." The only vegan thing at my friend's was the pita. In the morning, we went to Boulder-where I thought my friend lived. I actually had a restaurant in mind that my uncle told me about when he recently visited Boulder. Unfortunately, the food there wasn't so good. You can read my full review of Leaf Vegetarian whenever I write it on Yelp. I got the french toast because I figured we would be getting savory later. For dinner, we did indeed get something savory, but I don't think my meal was completely vegan. We went back to the town in between to meet up with my friend's boyfriend and cousin, so there wasn't any purely vegan options. They tried to find somewhere with vegan options, but I was so hungry, I was fine with eating at the place we had planned to eat at the night before, Larkburger. I ordered the Amy burger with portobello mushroom and asked the cashier if it was dairy-free. He said "of course it is-it's vegetarian." *Face palm* because vegetarians can still eat cheese. He clearly did not know the difference between veganism and vegetarianism. I was not in the mood to correct him, and I was too hungry to not eat the burger, which definitely had mayo or some type of dairy product in the dressing. I looked up the nutritional guide after my trip, and the bread wasn't even vegan.

My first day in California was fine because I was in L.A. (more in my vlog below), but my second day was more of a struggle because I didn't do any research on Orange County (where I was staying) restaurants beforehand. Again, I trusted Yelp too much. I did eat a vegan lunch at Garbanzo's, where all the ingredients were clearly outlined in the glass panel, but I could've had that lunch back home. I wanted to go somewhere unique to the place where I was traveling, and this is where my lack of preparation failed me. I was too tired to research in the moment, so I just went with the first place my friend suggested. This also happened at dinner, where my hot pot was all cabbage with two tiny pieces of tofu. After my trip, I figured out where I should have gone: Sea Birds Kitchen. This restaurant shows up when you search "vegan" in Newport, but I missed it while in Cali because well who names a vegan restaurant after something you could kill and eat?


Both of my friends were really considerate of my diet, but they didn't really understand it. I've been spoiled at home by my family and roommate, who always finds new foods and restaurants for me to try. My Colorado friend didn't fully understand what veganism was, and my California friend thought I only ate salads. I actually hate salads and think they're the worst food group ever invented, but that's a different story. Put simply, they didn't know what I ate, and I didn't really have an answer for them because I don't really eat anything different or special. I eat everything you do but without any products exploiting animals.


This seems like a no-brainer, but when traveling (especially while vegan), prepare and plan in advance. Pack your food if you're going to be on a long flight because airport restaurants will not cater to you, and save all the vegan restaurants you can before you arrive at your destination-not after like me. If you're eating at a non-vegan restaurant, don't be afraid to ask for the ingredient list or to educate those who are unaware because how else will they learn?

Monday, December 26, 2016