Our family is travelling to California on the Pacific Coast highway through Washington and Oregon and I thought it might be fun (and useful) to share the daily experience of travelling as a vegan. We've learned a lot over the past couple of years about how to survive on a plant based diet on the road and I know it can be challenging and stressful particularly when you're new to this way of eating. My hope is that my posts over the next five days give some helpful ideas to those contemplating their first vegan road trip.
Today it's been a short journey with only a drive to Victoria and a short ferry ride on the Black Ball ferry to Port Angeles. We didn't take a hotel there but instead 20 minutes down the road in Sequim.
When we travel we always bring granola bars and nuts with us. Usually we also bring fruit and veggies but since we were crossing the border that wasn't allowed. Bringing food with you whether driving or flying is important to prevent the last minute panic when you can't find anything to eat. We don't even always use it but it's nice to know it's there, particularly when you're going through small towns like we are on this trip where dining options will be limited.
On the ferry there was pretty much only junk food so we avoided the cafeteria. It was fine as we'd eaten at one of our usual vegan restaurants while waiting to depart. Once in Sequim I checked out Happy Cow to see if there was a suggested local eatery. In this case there was nothing which is common in smaller towns. Happy Cow is a wonderful website for the traveling vegan and also has a fantastic app for iPhone.
Out of sheer luck we saw an ad for a local farm to table restaurant called Nourish and checked out their website. It's pays to check ahead to see if there are options for you or to phone before you arrive at nicer restaurants. It can be embarrassing when you go to a place and they have a bad reaction to you asking for a vegan option. It has happened that we've been unwelcome at restaurants in the past. In this case Nourish clearly stated on their website they had vegan and vegetarian options so we were in luck.
It turns out they had several choices for us. The server was kind and helpful and we even had a dessert available which is rare in non vegan restaurants. My wife had the Plow Kofta plate (shown in photos) with a cauliflower kabob starter we all shared (also shown) and my daughter and I had the black bean burger which they slightly modified to make vegan (deleting feta relish and switching the bread). We all shared the fruit crumble with coconut whip cream for dessert. It was pricey at $75 but probably justified with the quality of the ingredients. We've had better tasting vegan food for sure but were happy to find this place at the start of our trip. I always make a point of thanking restaurants for having easy vegan options letting them know I appreciate them making the effort.
After dinner we walked for a while to try and burn off full bellies and then found a local grocery store. A lot of hotels like the one we are in offer free breakfasts. What we've learned is to pick up some travel sized soy or almond milk to be used in cereal or oatmeal at those breakfast bars. Generally there is fruit available but we buy extra to have in the car for snacks. If you like bread at breakfast you may want to get your own loaf. A lot of the hotel breakfast bars have low quality bread with suspicious ingredients even if they are vegan.
I'll try and post every day on our five day drive and point out the successes and struggles. Believe me there will be bumps in the road but we're getting pretty good at this vegan travel thing. My biggest tip is to just have the mindset that you need to take care of yourself, don't expect every place to have healthy or vegan options or you'll be occasionally left hungry.
As a final note I'm blogging all these entries on my iPhone and taking the photos with it as well so please forgive any poor photos or writing errors. I'm all thumbs on this thing.