Do you know I had an easier time eating as a vegan in Ethiopia than in Kentucky? I had very good intentions on this trip. And as previewed in my previous post, you will see that a handful of my intentions were for naught : )
Despite my plan to have a protein rich quinoa salad and fiber rich pumpkin bread and banana blueberry muffins, I still managed to stick to my diet for 4 days of road tripping. Here are some things I packed to make sure I could always have something on hand: Luna bars (i like the chocolate pb ones) LIFE bars, Kashi cookies (still the dark choc chip ones are NO WHERE to be found) almonds, apples, bananas, organic peanut butter, smoothie drinks (see Vegan Staples post for varieties) blue corn chips and fresh salsa, and nut thins. I had hoped to bring hummus and veggies and totally forgot.
It was great to be stocked up because we did a lot of day hikes in which snacks were needed as well as some underground cave hikes in which lunch was involved. I could not plan on finding a Panera, or Subway when I needed one so I improvised a meal or two with the easily packed pre packaged items.
I prefer not to have to many packaged items in my diet, but it is much better than a fast food anything or going hungry and getting crabby. I am glad I planned ahead because when we arrived at our destination (Mammoth Caves KY) there were very few options. My first clue was when we got off the exit and saw three “Red neck” gold courses. AKA mini golf on a totally trashed and overgrown mini golf course (no waterfalls or windmills etc…) There was also Big Mikes Rock Shop, the biggest shop in Kentucky with it’s very own Mystery House. (I admit, we went in there, just for fun and you can buy pretty much anything with your name on it). They also had great food options such as McDonalds, KFC, gas station pizza and well, that was it…)
We were staying right at the National Park at Mammoth Caves Hotel and it had three different dining options. Since I knew going into town for a meal was not going to happen, I was hoping the dining situation would be decent. It was not. The service was weak, the menu, small and the food, prefab. There were three options for me though (better than Applebees!) The first night I chose the black bean burger. It was very good, but served on a very very white bun. I was able to substitute broccoli for fries. Josh got the veggie soup (burnt, canned flavorless) with hummus, veggies, tabuli and spinach pita (i.e. baby carrots, celery, a regular tortilla cut into triangles) the hummus and tablui were good.
The next time I ordered the spaghetti with marina sauce. I took 1 bite of flavorless mush and did something I have never done before: sent it back. I asked for black bean burger again and the waitress brought it out right away, with a nice slice of American cheese on it. Also the lettuce on the burger was covered in mayo that was on the plate in a little dish. Vegan or no vegan mayo is NASTY!
Needless to say most of my meals were pretty weak. I survived on a lot of my stash and started craving fresh fruit and veggies. This from a girl who 7 months ago craved mozzarella sticks and jamocha shakes!
The ride home I did get a subway sandwich with veggies. ( I admit I have not researched subway bread and think maybe it is better not to know as I need something for road trips!) And I got veggie fajitas with black beans and pico de gallo for supper. Ahhhh…that hit the spot!
So next time I vow to be better prepared with homemade food (aka Josh made food) so I am not as frustrated with the world of non-vegans. I did determine on this trip that becoming a vegan has opened my palate to a large variety of foods, spices, textures and tastes. I have become a bit of a food snob (which is good because I am a coffee snob and a wine snob so I think I have made it full circle) so even boring vegan approved food is very lame. (Again, this from a girl that would eat $5 pizzas and Wendy’s cheese burgers on a daily basis!).
I hope all you faithful readers are able to enjoy some great road trips this spring and share your secrets with the rest of us!