Midwest adventures of a traveling veggie/experimental veganite.

March 6, 2012

A few things.

  1. Being a vegetarian traveling out to the Midwest for a long weekend – was interesting.  At best?
  2. Being an experimental VEGAN while traveling in the Midwest – near impossible.

Here’s what I’ve learned from the past 4 days.

Mid-westerners love their cheese and butter.  Case in point, almost every vegetable I ate this past weekend was covered in one, the other, or both.  I know for Lent I said I would try to actively avoid dairy products and I say this more to keep people from freaking out at the idea of eating Vegan for a month.  So that’s me.  An experimental Vegan Diet eater, heading out to St. Louis for a long weekend.    Something I’ve learned #2:  I’ve become much more comfortable with asking for what I want and how.  You should’ve seen the wide eyed look when I asked for a veggie burger on my veggie breakfast skillet in the morning instead of the eggs.  “You want…a veggie…bur…ger?” .  Yup.  I wanted protein, I wanted the skillet veggies.  I wanted a hot breakfast.  So I asked.  I was sort’ve embarassed when they had to put the breakfast order on hold just to go ask if a) I was allowed to order that and b) what kind of “upcharge” there would be (99 cents, if you’re wondering).  And for the record, the skillet with a veggie burger, was delicious and exactly what I was in the mood for.  AND less food than the rest of the breakfasts everyone else got.    Another example?  Was going to a steak house for dinner, where literally the only vegetarian options there, were the side dishes.  So.  I got a plate of side dishes.  Surprisingly filling and for the most part, delicious.  Asparagus, sauted’ mushrooms, broccoli, spinach & garlic and some pomme frittes.  Annnnd probably the only thing that wasn’t swimming in butter and salt, were the asparagus.  I couldn’t even finish half of the spinach (sitting in about half inch of butter) or the fries (tasted like oil).  I’m getting a lot better at seeing what I can order from a menu – even if its not a specialty restaurant.

I also had family friends go out of their way to add an extra dish of veggies for me (steamed broccoli), which was so kind of them.  Although, somewhat misguided as the entire bowl was covered in a cheese sauce.  Sigh.  Which leads me to one of the more important things I learned this weekend.  For simplicity, I was a vegan, traveling with a non-vegetarian/vegan group.  They tried to be mindful of what I would and wouldn’t be able to eat, but inevitably, places we go, are largely meat oriented (Steak n’ shake, anyone?).  And in the end, the kindness of friends (the extra veggie dish) and the desire to not be a burden when ordering (I’m getting better at this) and blowing the minds of the Mid-west population, I did a lot of compromising.  Eating a Vegetarian/Vegan diet is easy when I’m cooking at home, because I buy the food, I put the food together.   But, when I go out to eat or travel, there are certain things I simply cannot control, especially if I’m not at a specifically designated “vegan friendly” restaurant.   My friend put it best; when she told me that what was most important is that I kept the mindset and made the decisions where I could.  And I’m proud of myself for that.  And something I’m even MORE proud of, is that the few slips in the diet haven’t made me want to throw in the towel and say “I give up, Lent goal, you are no more”.    I am genuinely interested in the health benefits of adopting a more Vegan friendly diet.  I also am genuinely interested in the ability of some foods to stand in for others, like in Vegan baking – and happily, I have no intentions of stopping this 40 day goal before its due.  I can’t say if I’ll take up a Vegan diet or not after Lent, but one thing I know for sure, is that I have a MUCH better appreciation for Vegans when they’re out to eat, especially with a group that doesn’t share their dietary choices (not restrictions)…and my cooking.  I am so glad to get back to my kitchen and make all the food I didn’t get to eat while I was out – not to mention the GYM.  Woof – wish me luck I can get this body moving on the treadmill tonight.

I’m curious though – anyone else ever experience something like this?  How do you handle it?  I’m sure it’s a pretty common thing for Vegetarians and Vegans alike!



3 Responses to “Midwest adventures of a traveling veggie/experimental veganite.”

  1. Vanessa Says:

    I live in the Midwest and I know exactly what you are talking about. Side dishes become your best friend. It is SO easy to be vegan in my own home but eating in restaurants and at friends’ houses is another story. Like I said… side dishes=BFFs.

    • krhtoday Says:

      Thanks so much for the comment! Side dishes were definitely a saving grace while I was out there – I have to get used to asking for the veggies steamed though… 🙂 Do you manage to be pretty successful eating out? Or do you have to be pretty picky about where you go? Even here in Baltimore I’m struggling a bit, although finding ways around it.

      • Vanessa Says:

        It’s really easy to be a vegetarian but being vegan is much harder. Even if you get a veggie burger without the cheese, the bun often has milk, egg, or butter in it. It’ll get better one of these days!

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