Ah the joy of eating out. You don’t have any dishes to clean, someone preps and cooks your food for you and there are so many options out there. (Insert screeching halt noise) Ok, so I’ve mentioned here and there that I’m vegan and I can make a safe assumption that a lot of people are vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free or have diet concerns when it comes to dining somewhere that they have no control over the preparation and ingredients. This can be a big concern when traveling.
My first plan on any trip - whether a day or an extended trip- is to hit up the grocery store. I pack up snacks that work for me (Costco snack size bags of cashews and I are best friends). There are so many options for different dietary needs and I find that I don’t need to go to the natural foods store to find lots of good vegan snacks, although it’s always helpful. I mean, there are two kinds of vegan gummy candy at Sprouts! You can find shelf stable food and drink, or bring a cooler for the refrigerated items.
Now on to the planning. I don’t know that I’ve ever had an issue finding vegan food on any trip. Even Burger King has an Impossible Whopper. Is it the most unique item for this trip? No, but it is a welcome change from years ago when I wasn’t vegan and knew friends that were and how much they would struggle on their vacations. That being said, I still try to get a feel for what the location offers. Are there restaurants that are only vegan? Even Jake enjoys a lot of vegan options so those work fabulously. So many other restaurants have vegan options or dishes that can be vegan with modifications. Like how I get the really weird look at any Italian place when I tell them I don’t want any cheese on my pasta. With the advent of the internet and apps like Yelp! it is so much easier to find places that can accomodate almost any dietary need.
I have to give a special mention to Disney, because I did warn you that there would be a lot of that going on here. Both Disneyland and Walt Disney World designate allergy friendly and plant based menu items on their app. It’s quite literally magical. (This is my story and you can’t stop me from making bad puns). Friends and also Jake will let you know I spend a bit too much time researching and planning how many of the plant based items I can stuff down on any given trip. I end up eating about half the plan. It’s just such a welcome change from my first trip, in a land where burgers and french fries were the standard. Ok, I still go for the Impossible Burger and fries at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe because I absolutely love the atmosphere and music, and sometimes you just need a burger. From what I have seen, Disney is also great at noting allergies or special dietary needs on their app as well.
So if you have a specific dietary need, traveling seems to be so much easier these days. Ok, just like me you probably won’t be able to find something at every single restaurant, and that’s ok. I didn’t eat a ton of fast food before I went vegan, and now I tend to wish more of those places had options for me. But there are lots of great restaurants out there who will be amazing to you, help create meals that make your trip memorable in a good way, not in the way that you remember NOT to visit that place again. We have all been there. It does help to call sometimes and check in, and that will help the kitchen give you more accurate information if you don’t see it posted online. Like when I found out my local pizzeria started carrying vegan pepperoni in addition to the vegan cheese already offered, I only knew from picking up my veggie pizza that night. You don’t have to sit out, just do a little extra planning and find something that works for you!
Until next time, tell me one of the restaurants you love that created that special experience for your dietary needs! (Seriously, I love collecting restaurant ideas!)