August 18, 2012

Being Vegan on Vacation

Aloha from Hawaii where I am enjoying the end of summer vacation with my family. The beach is perfect, the ocean is clear and warm, and the plumeria scented air is glorious. It is everything one could hope for...almost. One of the greatest challenges of traveling when you are vegan is finding food on the restaurant menus that accommodate your needs. Sadly, most of the options are not even healthy. Kids eat free in our hotel from the kids menu, but that menu is limited to hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza, and fried foods. As someone who puts a strong focus on eating well, it's pretty disappointing that a few sticks of carrots and celery are what they consider to be vegetables, and fruit smoothies are made from concentrated juices and something called smoothie mix.

Needless to say, I am being faced with the challenge to not only find options to fit within my own dietary choices, but to keep my kids from overdosing on saturated fats, sugar, and processed foods at the same time.

How to tackle the situation as best as you can:
Kids and adults
1. Limit the hot dogs and hamburgers as much as possible.
2. If the kids really want that hot dog or burger, order it with fruit, greens, or extra carrots and celery instead of fries or chips.
3. Ask the restaurant for other options that might not be on the menu. It's ok to make special dietary requests.
4. Sugbeforehand ing everywhere. Ask whats in it before ordering the fruit smoothie not blended from fruit. Having one decadent treat a day is more than enough.

Vegans and celiacs
1. Call your hotel before you arrive and ask about special diets and options that are available.
2. Plan ahead. Let any restaurant you are planning on eating at know that you are vegan or have celiac. Clarify by telling them specific ingredients they should not cook your meal with such as dairy or gluten. It is best to do this when making reservations. You might find that an alternate restaurant would be a better choice.
3. Ask the concierge for suggestions.
4. Some menus have extensive lists of veggie side dishes either listed separtely or served with entree dishes. Ask for the kitchen to prepare a vegetable plate for you without dairy.
5. Even of its not on the menu, restaurant kitchens usually have pasta, rice, and gluten-free options that can be easily prepared for you.
6. Make breakfast and lunch your main meals of the day. Load up on fresh fruit, steel cut oatmeal, salads, or veggie sandwiches on whole grain bread. Enjoy a lighter dinner.
6. Always travel with healthy non perishable snacks such as raw nuts, seeded crackers, or ffruit, nut, and grain bars that don't have added sugar. I like Larabar, Core Defender Meals, and Two Mom's in The Raw brands. Justin's individual serving packs of almond butter are also convenient. I like it spread on apple slices.

What is most important is to not get discouraged. You might have limited options available, but there are options.

Categories: Food for Thought