Why can I find a dozen fast food joints in every town, but never a place that serves something hearty, filling and green?
The public relations spokesperson for these chains will surely argue that they have “healthy options” for people like me, but an iceberg lettuce salad with four shredded carrots and a pack of ranch dressing is not exactly a good time. I like to avoid bread too, which makes eating truly frustrating for me and everyone else in the car.
Our family just embarked on a 3,000-mile road trip and while I won’t claim to have eaten wholesome meals every day, I learned a few tricks along the way that made eating more efficient and healthy. I hope they will help you too.
How To Eat Vegetarian on a Road Trip #weekendfarmer Click To Tweet
Local Coffee Shops
In almost every town, there is a locally owned coffee shop that serves great coffee, salads and sandwiches. You get a good meal and you support local businesses. In the middle of Hays, Kansas, we found the coolest coffee shop, Union Station that had vegetarian Panini’s, salads and coffee that would give Seattle a run for its money.
Just type “coffee shop near me” into Google, and you will get back a list of local results. You’ll need to look online because we never saw these hidden gems advertised on the roadside attraction signs.
Grocery stores became our best friend. They are the most economical of all of the options, and you can stock up for breakfast and lunch the next day. We ate our fair share of peanut butter sandwiches, but we also visited the deli and found kale and pea salads, hummus packs, fruit and more.
Not to mention, we stocked up on oatmeal in containers that were perfect for breakfast the next morning. Most stores have a seating area where you can relax, or just pile into the car if you’re in a rush.
Most chain restaurants aren’t great for vegetarians, but typically they have a sides menu. When your only option in the middle of a meat-loving town is a roadside chain, ask if you can get a plate of vegetables and a baked potato. You may get an odd look from the person who is serving your meal, but you won’t go hungry.
Veestro, a plant-based meal delivery service, has a travel meal pack for people who want to eat vegan on the go. They’ll ship you meals for your trip and you just need to find a microwave to heat them up. I didn’t try this because we barely had room for our clothes let alone a cooler. But next time we travel, I’m going to give this a try.
Happy Cow, a directory of vegetarian restaurants all over the US, will be your best friend. The night before your next travel leg, use the hotel Wifi to map out the next day’s route and visit Happy Cow to see what’s available.
If you don’t have access to the Internet, your best bet will be in a Greek or Asian-inspired restaurant. I ate my fair share of falafel and noodles.
Being a vegetarian on a road trip can be challenging but with a bit of planning and creativity, you can fill your belly and feel good about it.