Hey, everyone! This past weekend was my first time traveling as a vegan! I went to New Orleans, Louisiana for an ultimate frisbee tournament. Despite being surrounded by gumbo, jambalaya, po boys and beignets, I was still able to (mostly) stick to my diet. The fact that it also happened to be Mardi Gras weekend made things even more difficult. Most restaurants had a smaller, modified menu in order to prepare for the hoards of people. Even then, I was able to find things that I could eat AND enjoy. I’m going to outline some things that really helped me stay focused and healthy this weekend!
First, come prepared. The day before my trip, I baked and packed so many snacks that I knew I could bring to the fields with me. I made homemade granola bars, banana peanut butter cups (they were mostly a #pinterestfail), and some roasted chickpeas. I’ll include the recipe for chickpeas at the end of this post because they were soo good. Everyone on my team kept stealing them from me. I also kept a large supply of fresh, portable fruit. My bag was filled to the brim with bananas, apples, and oranges. Just being prepared really helped to keep me full and focused and avoid being hangry.
Second, ask!! I walked into a restaurant with 12 of my teammates for dinner. I was so upset when I couldn’t find anything that was vegan on the menu. I didn’t have any options either because I couldn’t relocate my entire team to a new restaurant. I went up to the waitress and asked if they had anything that was at least vegetarian. The waitress was happy to ask the chef if he could make anything for me. The chef gladly whipped up some veggie tacos for me that were delicious. It might be intimidating to ask but most of the time, a chef is willing to help you out. Even on a busy night during Mardi Gras.
Third, don’t get too caught up in “cheating.” If you try something that has dairy or meat in it, don’t fret over it. The best part of traveling is experiencing new things, especially food. I love how every culture is so deeply rooted in food and life is too short to not experience and enjoy that. “Not a single shred of evidence exists in favor of the idea that life is serious.” – Brendan Gill. So really, go try a beignet in New Orleans. You will not regret it.
Traveling as a vegan is not the easiest thing in the world but it can definitely be done! Even with the extra effort, it has definitely been worth it. I feel so amazing that I don’t even want to eat any of the bad things that made me feel so terrible before. Being an athlete, a college student, a traveler, AND a vegan is possible.
Here’s my recipe for those chickpeas that were soooo good and full of protein!
(inspired by http://gratefulgrazer.com/home/cheesy-herb-roasted-chickpeas-vegan/)
1 can of chickpeas
2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon of thyme
1 teaspoon of oregano
1 teaspoon of complete seasoning
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
A dash of salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Drain and rinse chickpeas. Combine chickpeas and all ingredients in a bowl. Toss until all of the chickpeas are evenly covered with oil and spices. Lay the chickpeas evenly on a pan lined with parchment paper. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Enjoy and be weary of hungry teammates!!