Traveling can be hard as a vegan. Even harder when you are also gluten free. In the middle of nowhere, there are only fast food options. (French fries and a side salad – can you say nap in an hour?)
Flying abroad can be even more difficult. I recently went to Milan, Italy. The options I saw were salad, salad, and more salad. Maybe I just didn’t go to the right places. I was hoping to find some Thai food, or other restaurant that served tofu, so I could get in some protein. At least the grocery stores had some gluten free vegan options, and some really good olives. Those will fill you up.
Luckily, I planned for the lack of protein options – too much so in fact. I brought enough for about another 5-8 days.
To make your life a little easier, I am going to share with you some vegan foods to pack for a vacation and how I travel to make the trip more enjoyable. Before I realized I needed to plan ahead for a lack of foods that I could eat, I was a miserable traveler. It is no fun watching your companions fill up on a satisfying meal while you are eating a plate full of lettuce, vegetables and vinegar.
I am going to focus on filling proteins, since those are the hardest to find in the middle of nowhere. Also, depending upon your destination, it may be cheaper to bring your own food. I will go over foods for a road trip as well as a vacation where you fly to your destination.
Road trips are much easier than a vacation where you fly somewhere, so let’s take a look at those first. When I search for a hotel, I look for one that has at the very least, a microwave. If the room also has a fridge, even better. If the room has a full kitchen, I am in heaven. Trips where you fly to a destination with a kitchen in your room, make your stay easier as well. I always travel with a cooler and dry storage on road trips. That way I can pack refrigerated foods as well as dry goods. I also pack utensils, plates, etc. I usually camp at a campsite between hotel stays, so I have a camp stove as well. I have been known to use the stove on my truck’s tailgate in a hotel parking lot. (Whatever gets the job done.) Alternatively, you could bring a hot plate. I always bring some premade soup, or other premade meals so that I can easily heat them up in the room’s microwave.
1. Beans – Beans are great for road trips because you are not taking up valuable cooler space. If you find a restaurant or two that serves vegan food, you may not get to a cooler item. This way if you don’t get around to eating something, it doesn’t go to waste.
I love beans because you can easily throw together a meal. Bring some tortillas and salsa, and you have a burrito. Add them to chips with some vegan cheese, throw them in the microwave, and you have nachos. If you have access to a stove, make a beanadilla with some refried beans. Bring some premade rice and some salsa, and you have a meal. Make some beans with tomato sauce and seasonings ahead of time to put in tacos.
2.Nuts – Another great dry storage food. Add to coconut yogurt, cereal, or oatmeal, and you have a filling meal. Add some dried fruit, cacao nibs, coconut flakes, granola, and seeds, and you have a filling trail mix.
3.Tofu and tempeh – These are great if you have access to a stove, keeping in mind they will take up some of that precious cooler space. I like to limit my cooler options because I always have a large supply of fruit and vegetables with me. With tofu and tempeh you have a huge variety of meal options. You can make a stir fry, a scramble, tacos, a wrap – you name it. If you cook them ahead of time, even better. You can easily make spring rolls on the road. If your room only has a coffee pot, you can heat up water and dip the rice wrappers in the hot water, and roll together your favorite veggies and tofu. Bring along some sweet chili sauce for dipping, and you have a restaurant style meal.
4.Veggie burgers and other analogues – Veggie burgers along with other analogues (Tofurki, vegan hot dogs, etc.) are great because some don’t have to be heated and you can make a sandwich. Others you can heat up quickly in the microwave and throw together a sandwich.
5. Avocados and mushrooms – These are always great to have around. They are both filling, and can be thrown into a sandwich or salad. I love to spread a smashed avocado on toast with some lime juice and salt. Make some guacamole ahead of time to eat in a bean burrito. I also like to eat an avocado by itself, with some salt and lime juice. Either cook mushrooms ahead of time, or fry them up with some peppers and onion, and make fajitas.
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Traveling By Plane:
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For traveling by plane think light weight! All of the items that I list here I travel with on a road trip as well. I look for things that are filling, compact, and again – light weight.
1. Protein powders – Protein powders can be found in single serving packets. Bring a shaker cup (a cup that has a spring coil in it for better mixing), an aseptic container of nut milk, and you have a protein shake. Alternatively, you can mix with water for less baggage.
2. Nut butter packets – These are one of my favorite inventions. They come in almond butter, peanut butter, chocolate hazelnut butter, mixed with maple syrup, etc. I love Justin’s, but there are other brands as well. I always have a couple of these in my purse. When I go to a concert, and do not like to bring my purse, I have one of these in my pocket. I eat one of these by itself, but you could bring crackers or a sliced apple for a light snack.
3. Protein bars and trail mix – These are probably one of the most popular travel snacks. There are many options for protein bars; from high protein to a glorified candy bar. The same goes with trail mix. You can get a variety with chocolate to satisfy your sweet tooth. You could also make your own, so that you can customize it.
4. Soy curls – These are made from whole soybeans. They are the lightest thing on this list. They just need to be soaked in water, seasoned, then cooked on a skillet. The drawback is you need access to a stove. Put them in a wrap with some BBQ sauce, or add them to a salad. You could order vegetable soup take-out and add the soy curls to it in for a filling meal.
5. Tofu – I have traveled with an aseptic container of tofu (found on shelves). It is not too heavy, but a warning – it shows as a black object on the x-ray machine at the airport. Take this bad boy out, so that security can see what it is. I did not know this when I traveled with a box, and security searched my whole suitcase. If you are in a hurry, this can be no fun.
6. Hummus – Hummus is great for a road trip as well. For traveling by plane, I like to buy the single serving packets. Many grocery stores sell single serving packs with gluten free rice crackers. You can also buy a single serving hummus in many airports, just bring your favorite crackers, and you have a filling snack.
7. Soy Jerky – If you are gluten free there are quite a few options to choose from, but read labels, many are made with seitan and soy sauce. They are filling, protein rich and portable. My favorite brand is Primal Strips. Several of their flavors are gluten free.
8.Chia Seeds – These fiber rich seeds are sold in single serving packets. They come in ground and whole seed. Add them to a smoothie, cereal, a salad, vegetables, or rice. Make some chia seed crackers ahead of time. These are perfect if you are gluten free and want an alternative to rice crackers.
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