Being Vegan in the Big World
I'm back from a lovely time in Mexico, but i'll talk more about my great adventures there at a later post. I just wanted to take a moment to talk about food. While there, i was reminded of just how difficult it can be to be a vegan when out of the place(s) you may call home. Each day, i have to make a choice about what i eat and i have come back home with a new-found philosophy of food and my own eating needs.
For instance, i knew i was in trouble when the host of the wedding shared that 'there's no meat in the dish, just fish.' I told her fish IS meat and she looked confused. I know that people might identify as vegetarian but still eat fish, but i don't agree with that definition. Further, i was told that a lot of restaurants and taco stands use lard in their refried bean mix. Does anyone know the word for lard in Spanish? I don't. So i had to make a choice. Luckily, a good friend of mine speaks Spanish so when we were at a yummy and cute taco stand, i knew i was okay. But when we went to an ex-pat run beach restaurant, J's cheese and bean quesodilla was served with chunks of weiners in it. I doubt they were veggies dogs! And the waiter told me ' the cook is not happy with you' when i requested something off the menu and vegan-friendly. Oh, and there's chicken in that photo of Tortilla Soup; again it's not considered 'meat' so we didn't know until J ordered it.
Some nights, all i ate was a plain but big salad because there was nothing for me to eat otherwise, and other times i was served one of the best tofu sandwiches i've ever eaten (and it was on the menu!). Cafe Brown, you rule! Other places didn't seem to mind taking the cheese out of my order, but then didn't take the sour cream out as well. Others bent over backwards so that i had a great meal, like our server at the wonderful Los Adobes restaurant. They even have a vegetarian section on their menu. So, each day was a food adventure, for sure.
For those of you that want to learn more about the restaurants in Todos Santos, Mexcio, go here. As a fishing village, they do have some great places to eat and it truly is a lovely town.
I recently went to San Francisco, one of my favourite cities thus far. But getting there and back was like going to Mexico - slim pickings. On the way there, i planned ahead and made a tempeh sandwich. The customs guy gave me a bit of a speech for not declaring my food, but i got to take it with me. I'm so glad i did, because airports can be a vegan's nightmare. Some may have sushi stands or salad delis, but for the most part, what can i eat on a full day of travel?
And these adventures, for me anyway, don't just happen when i travel but can happen right here in my own city. When going to a new place, i have to ask a few questions before i order, and when going out in groups, I have been lucky when friends and family call the restaurant ahead, to request something for me. And i have been awarded with some okay meals for the most part. It blows my mind when chefs can't think outside their own culinery box, and the nutritional value of my dish is left to be desired. My 'favourite' (there's sarcasm in those quotes) is when i get a fruit bowl for dessert and everyone else gets a delectable dessert like chocolate mousse. And i mean when we called ahead for a big party, not for every day trips out. I'm not that hard to please.
The king of all disappointments was on a recent afternoon tea party for a good friend, at a swank urban hotel tearoom. I had a lengthly email exchange with the catering manager who started off our dialogue by telling me that 'to prepare vegan dishes would be an extra cost.' Yikes, the already pricey amount of $30 isn't enough to get me some chickpeas in my salad, or to give me a crustless cucumber sandwich? And then he went on to tell me that all their breads as well as their pastries weren't vegan-friendly. Now, i know pastries aren't, but i know that not all breads have milk in them, let alone eggs. So, in the end, we compromised and i got a lettuce salad. Nothing on it. And the dressing of plain oil and vinegar on the side. Nothing else. Oh, and a lovely serving tray of fruit. Of course.
So my question to you folks is: What do you do to make sure you're eating well when you travel?