Healthy holiday tradeoffs?

Ditto

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I am enjoying the benefits of a plant-based diet for medical reasons, but will be traveling and eating out a lot over the next couple of weeks, and carting my own food around will be impractical. So I'm wondering what others do when faced with a menu that has no vegan options (other than maybe a sad salad with no dressing). Ethical/humane concerns aren't my primary concern (not that there's anything wrong with that), but if forced to choose would you opt for fish over poultry, beef, or other animal protein? Would eggs--such as an egg-white omelette with just spinach and mushrooms, cooked in oil instead of butter--be preferable over meat? Sadly, "vegetarian" dishes that include cheese or yogurt aren't an option for me, due to a dairy allergy. Thanks for your thoughts!
 

PTree15

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Hmm, I can't address any options for animal products (they aren't food to me :D ), but depending on where you go, restaurants will often work with you to give you something other than a salad. I will often ask for a wrap or a sub with all the veggies the restaurant might use for salads and sandwiches. At a pizza place, for example, you could get a sub with all the veggies they use for toppings, like broccoli, onions, spinach, peppers and tomatoes. You can usually get mushroom and olives, too, and pickles if they offer sandwiches on their menu. Then I'll ask for a little oil and vinegar for the dressing or even just mustard, as I like that a lot.

If you are going to an Italian place, maybe get a pasta dish with just marinara sauce and ask them to throw in veggies. And you can get a side salad with that usually. If you go to an Asian place, just ask for tofu as a protein or go with veggie sushi. A lot of the curries at Thai places are made with coconut milk, so you wouldn't have to worry about dairy. Yellow and red curry with tofu and veggies is delicious. Indian places also offer a lot of dairy-free options to make a meal vegan. Aloo Gobi is a favorite of mine. It's potatoes and cauliflower in a spicy sauce that isn't dairy or meat-based. Chana masala is another one I like. It's kind of like a tomato-based chickpea stew and it usually comes with rice. Instead of naan (which usually has milk) you can get roti, which just as flour, water and salt (I make roti all the time at home).

If you're at a chain restaurant that won't work with you, then pack a couple of protein bars or a small bag of trail mix or nuts to at least have something to take the edge off if you end up with a salad or a baked potato. I'm not sure how you feel about processed food, but a lot more places are also offering the Beyond burger, and you just have to ask to make sure they don't include any non-veg items like cheese or mayo.
 

Lou

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I don't know your situation, especially the "plant-based for medical reasons" part.
But I don't see much hardship in staying plant-based while traveling. I don't even see why "carting my own food around" is impractical.

If you are staying with friends and family, then just make a quick stop at the grocery store for all your special food. In 2019, most people understand being "plant-based" for medical reasons. And most people are even good about skipping meat every once in a while, too.

My friends and family are very supportive of me being vegan for ethical reasons. I can't imagine people being less supportive of being plant-based for medical reasons.

Almost every restaurant has some kind of vegetarian or vegan option. salads aren't sad. Raw veggies are some of the healthiest foods there are. If there are no plant-based salad dressings available stop at the market and buy your own.
 

Ditto

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Thank you for all the ideas, PTree15. I have never been a picky eater and am reluctant to ask restaurants to change their recipes (other than to omit an ingredient, like leaving the feta out of a salad, for example) so I hadn't even thought of ordering something that isn't even on the menu. That's a revelation! I especially like the idea of asking for a sandwich or wrap using things on hand in the kitchen. Thanks for the inspiration!
 
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Ditto

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I appreciate you taking the time to respond, Lou. I'm not sure where you eat out, but I've been poring over restaurant menus in the areas we plan to stay (not with family or friends, obviously) and am getting depressed about the almost total lack of vegan or even vegetarian options. Some salads definitely are sad! (Picture a small bowl of ice berg lettuce with a couple of cucumber slices and unripe tomatoes... Ick.)
 
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Lou

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I appreciate you taking the time to respond, Lou. I'm not sure where you eat out, but I've been poring over restaurant menus in the areas we plan to stay (not with family or friends, obviously) and am getting depressed about the almost total lack of vegan or even vegetarian options. Some salads definitely are sad! (Picture a small bowl of ice berg lettuce with a couple of cucumber slices and unripe tomatoes... Ick.)


You can always find something vegan at Asian restaurants. I know their sauces aren't sometimes heavy on oil and salt but not always and I'm sure you can request less oil and sauce, too.

Mexican restaurants are good too. I usually get a vegetarian burrito and just have them leave off the cheese.

Even Italian restaurants can make up something healthy. A vegetarian pizza without cheese. or pasta with just marinara sauce.
 

Nekodaiden

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I am enjoying the benefits of a plant-based diet for medical reasons, but will be traveling and eating out a lot over the next couple of weeks, and carting my own food around will be impractical. So I'm wondering what others do when faced with a menu that has no vegan options (other than maybe a sad salad with no dressing). Ethical/humane concerns aren't my primary concern (not that there's anything wrong with that), but if forced to choose would you opt for fish over poultry, beef, or other animal protein? Would eggs--such as an egg-white omelette with just spinach and mushrooms, cooked in oil instead of butter--be preferable over meat? Sadly, "vegetarian" dishes that include cheese or yogurt aren't an option for me, due to a dairy allergy. Thanks for your thoughts!

I don't frequent restaurants to begin with, and if I did, I wouldn't expect there to be many varied and filling vegan options, with the exception of those restaurants that specifically cater to vegans. Fast food places you can usually get fries, or rice and tofu with veggies if it's a Chinese place. Subway is a good option if it's available in your traveling areas. There is also the happy cow website/app that you can use to plan ahead if you already know what areas you will be going to.

Grocery stores, in addition to selling standard vegan items, like oats, beans, tofu, tempeh, nuts, seeds, bread, pasta, fruits, vegetables, rice etc often sell ready to go plant based burgers, sausages, falafels etc and other "grab and eat" items as well.

I'm not sure what you consider "impractical" but a few weeks ago I had to travel out of my area and I managed to get by on some easily prepared sandwiches I carried with me in a small insulted carry bag. Even though I had breakfast before I left I made enough to last me 3/4 of the day and it wasn't like it was a backpack full of food or something. Had it been longer and I without a place to cook (accommodation with such facilities), I'm sure I could find enough food at a local grocery store to fill up on.

In answer to your question, I don't think eggs or dairy are "better" choices than meat, ethically or otherwise. If you want to stay vegan, or don't want to break your plant based diet, where there is a will there is a way. I get the feeling from your words that you are new and are already looking for excuses/reasons to diverge. Doing so will hinder what is going on in your body - which is transitioning from a dependence on animal based foods to foods from the plant kingdom.
 
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