Have you made good on all your summer travel plans? If you still have adventures ahead of you, we have this helpful post of road trip essentials for your vegan roadtripping adventures!
It might seem really daunting to eat vegan while on the road. But actually, it’s easier than you think, and we have the tips (and expert testimonials) to back it up.
How to Pack Food for Roadtrips
Pack for movement and longevity. Whether your food is jostling in your backpack all day or being tossed about in the backseat, it’s important to find food that is sturdy! Healthy snack bars (like these homemade hemp protein bars) will stand up to most action, and other foods like pre-made burritos, wraps and even salads-in-a-jar can be super portable and healthy meals on the go. Snackable foods, like hummus and veggies, or other hearty dips can be great snacks, especially if you’re eating with just one hand while driving. If you have a cooler, bring it full of ice packs that can be reused to keep your dips and drinks cold.
To ensure that your meals let you make the miles, aim for a good protein-fiber-carbohydrate balance. Meals that are too sugary will give you a quick boost, but won’t help you for the long haul. Protein and fiber digest more slowly than carbs, and help keep you full for longer. Think about bean-ful burritos, homemade veggie burgers, and even leftovers for the first few days of your trip to keep you full and happy.
Eating in Restaurants
Even the most dedicated planner needs to eat at a cafe or restaurant on occasion. And if you’re traveling while vegan, take heart knowing that there is a wide variety of options for you while you’re on the road across the US. In recent travels I’ve been digging Subway sandwiches: many of their breads are vegan, and since they now have spinach and avocado, it’s easy to make a filling and delicious meal on the cheap. Other healthier chains like Einstein Bagels, Panera and Chipotle have vegetarian and vegan options, but always be sure to ask for the ingredients of items like breads, bagels and sauces. PETA has a great list of how to eat vegan at fast food restaurants.
If you straying off the highways, find local farmer’s markets to see what’s on offer, and do some quick searches on Happy Cow to find vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants in whatever city you find yourself. And it’s surprising what you can find at smaller restaurants around the country: a few months ago my boyfriend made me stop at a roadside diner in North Carolina, and we were so happy to find veggie burgers, roasted local veggies and a great salad! A delicious and healthy surprise that we were not expecting! See Jasmin and Mariann’s tips for Chinese restaurants below, for more dining out go-to options.
Shopping at Grocery Stores
Sure, there are Whole Foods locations across the country, but if you find yourself at a local grocery store without a dedicated kombucha section, you can still find good eats. First, look for veggies! As we talked about in our vegan backpacking post, fresh veggies like red pepper, carrots, oranges, bananas, apples and more can travel really well and stand a few days without of refrigeration. Find some leafy greens, pre-chopped veggies, and the healthiest dressing possible to make your own little salad-on-the-go. Fresh breads (read the ingredients) can round out your meal. You’d be super lucky to find some pre-made hummus, salsa and guacamole to finish off the meal. Most supermarkets will have nuts, seeds, dried fruits and other snackables to round out your veggie-based meals.
If you find yourself in a complete food desert, you can usually rely on nuts, seeds and any dried fruit options that can be found at gas stations and even the most dank convenience stores. Eat this to tide your over, then take the back roads until you can find a legit grocery store to seek out those fresh veggies!
Cooking While on the Road
Think that staying in hotels, hostels or Airbnb means not cooking? Not so, says our friend the Healthy Voyager, who earns her name with this great list about how to cook while you’re on the road, originally published on Eat Drink Better.
1. Make your hotel room coffee pot your friend!: It’s not just for coffee anymore! Pack miso soup packets or stock up on canned beans and/or soups at the local convenience store or market and heat up quick and healthy dinners in the comfort of your hotel room. This way you not only save time and money but you are sure to eat well before running out for a day of adventure.
2. Don’t cut out your cutting board!: Yep, pack a thin, silicone cutting board and load up on local fruits and veggies so that you can chop up and pack for healthy snacks while on the go. Whipping up a quick salsa to eat with carrots or chips or even mashing up some chick peas for hummus is easier to do in your hotel room then you think!
3. Slice and dice!: Pack a small knife in your checked baggage so that you can chop fresh fruit and veggies for salads, salsas and more.
4. Ice bucket, don’t chuck it!: Use the ice bucket as a mixing bowl and the ice tongs to toss dressings and sauces into salads, noodles, etc.
5. Get creative with leftovers.: Sure, dine out but be crafty with your doggie bag remains. Load up on the bread basket to make quick in room sandwiches or even bruschetta. Keep rice and noodles and mix with fresh veggies or even left over sauce packets from random fast food joints.
6. Drink your veggies!: Eating well can be tough when traveling so be sure to get in all your veggies before you get the day started. Pack super green or veggie powder packets such as Go Greens by To Go Brands, mix with 8 to 12 ounces of water and down your 6 servings of veggies in one shot. This way, if you aren’t able to grab a salad and end up living on chips or sandwiches while out, at least you’ve gotten in your greens, vitamins and minerals for the day.
7. Pack a snack: Be sure to pack some of your favorite bars, snacks and foods so that you not only have stuff on hand during flight or sightseeing, but also have ingredients on hand to quickly prep in room. I like Lara Bars, KIND Bars, and homemade superfood bites.
8. Shop local: Scope out local farmer’s markets and grocery stores to stock up on fresh fruit and quickie foods.
More Vegan Roadtrip Essentials to Know!
No Meat Athlete Matt Frazier has some great tips that add to what we’ve already discussed: he says while on his book tour he’s been eating healthier than at home. How is this possible? Frazier says it’s because he’s eating mostly fresh, raw foods for the bulk of the day, and basing his diet on quick fruit and veggie snacks. He says, “instead of worrying about eating a traditional ‘square’ meal and getting your vegetables on the side or in a salad, you do far better by basing your entire diet on the foods in that salad. And that’s the trick that has helped me not just survive on the road, but thrive, by eating fresher, more whole, and more raw. [Fill up] on the handful of foods that you consider to be the healthiest on Earth. And redefine ‘meal’ to mean exactly that.”
Finally, just get out there! Jasmin Singer and Mariann Sullivan, the fine ladies of Our Hen House, said they had a great time roadtrippin’ and found an abundance of great food across the country. Their words of advice: “Things are starting to change, and people are beginning to wake up everywhere you go.” They found a slew of vegan food offerings and great folks across their journey, and have these five tips to share on VegNews:
1. Stop at Chinese restaurants regularly, and order the tofu and broccoli. This was a staple for us throughout our 3,000-mile journey.
2. Invest in a travel blender. We fancy the Tribest Personal Blender. Each morning, we would grab some fruit from the motel’s breakfast buffet, some ice from the ice-maker, and blend those up along with some green powder and protein powder.
3. Get App-y. The #1 app you will need will be VegOut, powered by Happy Cow. ‘Nuff said.
4. Take Two-Lane Highways. Driving on interstates is the equivalent of flying. What’s the point? There’s an entire country to see. Buy the book Roadtrip USA and take time to stop and smell the seitan (its prevalence might just surprise you).
5. Stock Up. Be open to picking up interesting vegan finds along the way when you come across them and sticking them in your cooler in case you hit a dry spot ahead.