I’m back! Travis, Nolan, and I just returned from a ten-day trip to Michigan, where I’m originally from and grew up. Our vacation was jam-packed with weddings, places to go, and people to visit, but despite the hectic pace, I managed to stick to my values when it comes to plant-based living.
As you’ve read in my bio, I consider myself a mostly-vegan: I follow a strict vegan lifestyle at home, allowing only the occasional animal product splurge when out and about. My vacation was no exception. If you think about it, fresh fruits and vegetables are really the original fast food.
That’s right: fast food, which need not carry a negative connotation. Whether you’re looking for a quick snack, need to pack a lunch for work, are meal planning for the week ahead, or are about to embark on a vacation, you will most likely have nature’s fast food available somehow, somewhere.
A dietician I follow (whose research and knowledge I’ve mentioned previously) once posted that if you’re not hungry enough to eat an apple, you’re not really hungry. I couldn’t agree with this more. It is ultimately quicker to rinse and bite right into an apple than it is to deep fry and season potatoes or plop a frozen beef patty on the grill. If you wouldn’t be willing to grab the fresher, faster option, how hungry are you?
I try to keep this as my mantra when I travel. It is easy to get caught up in all of the treats, especially at occasions like weddings. Don’t get me wrong – I did a little bit of splurging, but I know my limits and stick to them for the sake of my health and energy level. I have a two-year-old and I’m pregnant, remember? 🙂
Today, I’m sharing with you the ways that I was able to remain mostly-vegan on vacation. First, pictured above, I ordered the vegetarian dish at the first of two weddings I attended. Quite frankly, when I sit down to dinner at banquet hall, I’ve come to expect a bland pasta or lifeless salad of iceberg lettuce and shredded carrots. Imagine my surprise when this filo dough purse, filled with vegetables and sitting atop polenta, arrived! The meat entrée recipients at my table were definitely impressed. “What is that?! Looks amazing!” While I don’t think it was vegan—I imagine the dough involved butter at some stage or another and there was a creamy sauce on the plate that probably contained dairy or mayo—and it certainly wasn’t raw, which is generally my preference, it was easily the best vegetarian banquet hall fare I’ve tasted.
Next, we have a veggie burger from Rainforest Café. Again, I’m not sure it was vegan, as an egg was may have been used in binding the chickpea patty, but I could tell that it was handmade and not frozen. There was no dairy or mayo on top; just raw veggies and guacamole – yum! I opted for a side of seasonal vegetables, which I picked at, trying to prioritize the protein of the veggie burger. While, as a rule, I try not to waste food, I discarded most of the bun.
On to a completely raw vegan salad from Dublin Square, an Irish pub in East Lansing, home of my alma mater, Michigan State University. Go Green! While I wish the salad’s base was a heartier green like spinach or kale rather than romaine lettuce, this salad was fresh, filling, and delicious. The cherry vinaigrette (Michigan is known for its cherries) didn’t hurt!
Finally, oatmeal topped with raw fruit at the bed and breakfast where Trav and I stayed for the night, the Wild Goose Inn, also in East Lansing. The innkeeper presented us with a small menu that had four choices, following a fruit salad and muffin course. Three out of the four dishes included eggs, so of course we selected the oatmeal, which contained dried Michigan cherries, almonds, and the raw fruit you see here. Sweetener—namely brown sugar or honey—was offered on the side; we didn’t even need it!
The rest of my eating took place in my parents’ home or in the homes of friends and family where we bounced around. Again, I allowed myself the occasional splurge – what was I supposed to do when my mom baked homemade red velvet cupcakes?! 🙂 At each place we stayed, I tried to make smart choices: a bagel with peanut butter instead of cream cheese or super food smoothies for breakfast, and I got into the kitchen for some of my old standbys for lunch and dinner: multi-grain salad with strawberries, bean salad, and more.
I’ll never be perfect at plant-based living, but I work really hard—even on vacation—to meet a high standard for my health and well-being. You can, too! Happy eating!