(Look at us enjoying the heck out of this awesome vegan pizza from Ian’s in Milwaukee! Thanks to our buddy Roman for treating us!)
This is part 2 in our series “Conscious Vegans On The Road”! Click here for part 1 and stay tuned for future updates.
During our 3 week backpacking through Mexico, we quickly realized that it’s not always easy traveling as a vegan. Although we were able to find a few vegan restaurants in Mexico City and Zihuatanejo we were not always finding a variety of vegan friendly options in most of our stops. We stayed in a couple of hostiles that had kitchens and during those stops, we would hit the local markets and cook our meals. Now I always enjoy eating out at vegan restaurants and I find inspiration for future recipes but its not always the most affordable if you’re traveling on a budget. We chose to take our experience in Mexico into consideration when planning for our tour around the US. Our goal was to stick to our vegan lifestyle, eat healthy (yes, you can eat vegan and not eat healthy), cook our meals when possible and be prepared not only for the next meal but for days to come.
We hit the road with a trailer and a small SUV this time! This allowed us to bring some equipment we regularly use in the kitchen at home. We brought our blender for our morning smoothies and the food processor to make extra snacks along the way. We also brought a knife and cutting board. We shopped for reusable kitchen ware and found a pack of 4 plates with bowls and cups which was perfect for the two of us traveling with our two buddies. While shopping we made sure everyone had their personal reusable water bottle. We brought a 3 gallon jug we would refill at the Glacier water filling stations and use that to refill our personal water bottles. A cooler fit perfectly in the back of the car along with a small propane fueled stove top. This allowed us to store fresh produce and cook anywhere!
Before leaving the house, I focused on making snack bars. The intention with these bars was to keep us fueled and to fall back on in case of long hours driving or waiting to eat our next meal. I was inspired by Lara bars since they’re super easy to make and do well stored in the car. The base was made with dates and I threw in cashews, almonds, cacao nibs, cacao protein powder, chia seeds, flax seeds, dried cranberries, dried cherries, moringa, spirulina, maca, and chocolate covered almonds. I used about 4-5 pounds of dates and 4-5 pounds of nut mix which yielded about 60 bars. Just enough to last us up to two weeks.
Other staples for us were peanut butter, almond butter, bananas, apples, rice cakes, peaches, and cherries. Two common meals we would prepare were sauteed veggies and spring rolls. Both use the stove top but not for very long. The veggies were often used to make tacos and to change it up, we would slap on some hummus or avocado. The main veggies of choice were squash, potatoes, mushrooms, canned beans, canned chickpeas and jackfruit. I highly recommend trying jackfruit especially if you’re craving a BBQ burger! Derrick introduced me to jackfruit and since then we’ve been using it with veggies or to make sandwiches. The jackfruit absorbs any marinara quite well and has the texture of chicken or pork. It’s been used as a meat substitute across Asia for many years. We threw ice in the cooler maybe twice but really we didn’t need it. The fruit lasted about 5 days in the cooler and we would use up the veggies as needed.
The spring rolls were the easiest to make and my favorite. Boil rice noodles, chop veggies of choice, roll it into a beautiful vegan piece of art. Tip: Add the peanut sauce inside the spring roll and you’ve just avoided cleaning one more dish. Saves you time and water. You’re welcome.
One of the most important lessons we learned on this trip is the need to be prepared, especially if you have a special diet such as veganism. There are an increasing amount of vegan restaurants and vegan options at many restaurants, but if you are not prepared you may find yourself hungry while all the vegan restaurants and grocery stores are closed. We found ourselves in this situation near the end of the Texas tour. It was late, we were hungry, and the only available option was a Denny’s diner. Not only were our options for vegan food very limited, but the food was packaged with plastic and Styrofoam. Definitely not a win for the environment or our diet. Being prepared can help avoid these situations.
Finally, besides cooking great vegan meals for ourselves we were constantly treated to fresh food from the gardens and farms we were visiting! So many kind people were gifting us fresh food and showing us their local vegan restaurants. Two of these restaurants that stood out to us were Cafe Gratitude in Venice Beach (see the video below) and the Bronze Cafe in Las Vegas!
We would also like to thank all of our friends who allowed us to make use of their kitchens to maintain our vegan diet and to those who prepared delicious meals for us! Another important aspect of staying healthy is staying fit! We made time at one of our stops to visit a gym and work out. We knew not to rely on gyms at each stop so we brought our yoga mats, weights and a pull up bar. Remember, you can stay healthy and vegan while on the road! Please stay tuned to future updates from us as we travel and live the vegan life! Thanks for the support, see you on the road!