19 January 2013

Vegan While Traveling

On Thursday afternoon I left Indiana to travel to New Orleans for the annual SPSP conference. I've gone every year since my second year of graduate school (which was the 5th SPSP, I think). The good news and bad news about the annual SPSP conference is that it changes location every year. That's good news because I get to see new cities every year. That's bad news because I have to figure out how to eat in new cities every year.

Traveling as a vegan is a lot easier than it used to be, but it still can take a bit of planning. Luckily SPSP provides lunch for me (and I request a vegan one), but breakfast and dinner and any other snacks are on my own. Plus, it's not just while at the conference when I have to figure out food, I have to get to and from the conference. That all adds up to a lot of planning to find food. While this may sound daunting, there are a lot of ways that you can make traveling as a vegan do-able, sometimes even easy!

Let's talk the en route part of traveling. One of the things I learned early on is that traveling with travel-friendly snacks is a must. Travel-friendly snacks are those that won't break easily, are small, and have decent nutritional value. My favorite things to bring as travel snacks are fruit leathers, nuts, vegan jerky, and/or peanut butter crackers (though those break more easily). All of these foods are healthy and aren't things like chips or candy. If you happen to forget to bring snacks, you can certainly find things to eat the airport. For example, every random news/magazine/snack shop will have bags of nuts. You may also be able to find a popcorn vendor, a bagel place, or a smoothie vendor.

However, before you travel, you should make your life easier by planning for when you are actually in your destination. I feel like this is an obvious step, but a simple google search of "vegan and [insert city here]" may find you something interesting. In larger cites, you may find a website specifically for veg*n food/stores in that city. For smaller places, you still may find a gem. But, I don't like to depend exclusively on that information. Instead, I make sure to check with two specific websites before I travel (and usually end up with a printed list of possibilities). My first go to is a website called vegguide, followed by happycow. Vegguide is more likely to be up-to-date, as they will continue to add places that are veg*n-friendly. In contrast, happycow recently decided to list list restaurants that are exclusively veg*n (though they are not removing old listings). Between these two cites, I can always find at least one place that will do for me and for others in my dining party. This trip I came prepared with a 6-page long print out and ended up having a wonderful meal at Carmo. If you're ever in New Orleans and want a delicious (!!!) veg*n meal, it's highly recommended!

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