The first six months or so of my veganism went smoothly. Of course a few hiccups happened along the way, but for the most part I had little trouble adjusting. I have settled into a soft veganism – I’ll eat honey and don’t spend tons of time researching every possible ingredient that may have originated from an animal. I do my best, but am not going to become a fanatic. It works for me…you do what works for you.
One of the most common questions I get about a vegan diet revolves around eating out. Frankly, up until July – I faced little to no issues. I was able to find vegan sushi, vegan fajitas, abundant salads, hummus, quinoa plates – all at national chains, quick service establishments…even Disney world. Then came summer out and about in Colorado and my vegan challenges suddenly became very real. No longer was I able to find easy vegan foods – rather, I was relegated to a plate of plain, wilted salad greens without a nut or avocado in site. I was surprised and disappointed. One time, I was so hungry that it almost brought me to tears, hence bullet-point number 4. I learned a thing or two:
- Be prepared. We visited Avon, CO and had a condo at which I could have cooked and refrigerated food. Instead, I left myself at the mercy of restaurants and delivery. As a result, I had bad oatmeal for breakfast, wilty salads and unsatisfying cheese-less pizza. I could have packed more fruit, greens and nuts to be happy.
- Pack Substance. I ran the Epic Rocky Mountain Relay – 190 miles through the mountains of Colorado — as part of a 12-person team. We brought tons of snacks – most of which were vegan, but wholly unsatisfying. I got tired quickly of peanut butter (yes, I know…how could I tire of peanut butter?) and bars. We stopped at restaurants but their only vegan options were iceberg salads, fruit or instant oatmeal. I should have packed more substantial items – hummus, avocados, crackers and cut-up vegetables – to feel satisfied and fueled.
- Ask questions. At one restaurant, I was happy to see a “Quinoa Salad” side dish and promptly ordered it. When it arrived, I took one bite and was overwhelmed with the taste of chicken broth. I had told the waitress I was vegan, but she forgot to tell me the salad was not. If it is important to you, ask when you order EVERY item. (By the way, who cooks quinoa for a salad in chicken broth? It wasn’t even tasty agreed my semi-veg husband.)
- Sometimes you just have to settle. After running the Epic (okay, I only ran 18 miles of it), I really needed something substantial. The restaurant we visited had a veggie burger that I strongly suspect was bound together using egg whites. I chose not to ask and live in oblivion. I am not going to starve for my convictions.