At this point I’ve been vegan for ten years, so I’m fully accustomed to eating this way and navigating my way around menus that aren’t catered to my eating habits.
Normally when traveling I’d be all about finding vegan/plant based restaurants in every area we visit, but because of COVID we’ve decided to limit how much we eat out. We do however, make exceptions every now and then depending on how tired we are or whether or not we’ve had the chance to go grocery shopping yet when getting to a new place. We also make sure that when we’re dining out we’re distanced, outdoors and that people are wearing masks.
So what do we do?
We cook. Everyday. Two to three meals a day. We go grocery shopping whenever we can. Preferably at outdoor and/or organic markets. They have been pretty easy to find in Mexico so far. When driving we constantly see fruit/vegetable stands on the side of the road, so we stop whenever produce looks good and stock up.
We also brought our entire kitchen with us. Jaikai, but not. When we started this trip I emptied out all of our cabinets, our fridge and our freezer. I gave away everything I thought we wouldn’t eat or use. Everything that was left came with us. We brought our entire spice rack, any kind of noodles, canned beans, oatmeal, nut butters, crackers, nutritional yeast (vegan crack) and threw fresh fruits, vegetables, tempeh or anything left in the fridge that we thought we could easily use on the road into our cooler. This has saved us a ton of money. We’re 21 days into our trip and are still eating through all the pantry items we brought. We also use our spices every day.
We stocked up on a few extra food items before coming down like two big jars of vegan stock (I use it for cooking instead of oil), a giant tub of coconut oil (use as lotion, sunscreen & to make popcorn), nutritional yeast (not easily available in Central America) and two big bottles of apple cider vinegar (dressing, tea, a shot a day, keeps the ants away). I bought these things because we use them everyday and I wasn’t sure how readily available/expensive they’d be.
Keith thought it was pretty annoying of me to pack all this food into the car when we were originally leaving, but now that he’s seen how much money it’s saved us and how we can make pretty much anything we’re craving on the road with minimal trips to a grocery store I think he appreciates it.
We’ve mostly been staying at airbnbs or camping so that we can cook. Usually if we know we’re going to be camping, but are at an Airbnb the days beforehand I’ll make big batches of quinoa, couscous, rice or any grain that is easy to mix up with vegetables and a salad. When we have long drives ahead of us we also make extra so that we can have leftovers the next day to eat in the car. We have a 50 quart Coleman cooler that fits in the backseat of our Subaru and we open it constantly throughout drives for snacks and meals. I’ve been known to make a pretty good avocado toast in the car with whatever is on hand. I even have a compact cutlery set I carry with us which opens up to have a little cutting board and a full set of silverware for two that has come in handy more times than I can count.
I like cooking. A lot of people think of a plant based lifestyle as being restrictive, but I see it differently. I find that eating vegan has encouraged me to get creative with my cooking. I’m constantly experimenting with flavors and spices and coming up with new ways to make dishes I enjoyed prior to becoming vegan. I love making vegan versions of Peruvian dishes my mom cooked growing up. I like flavors a lot. Growing up in NYC and being exposed to such a variety of cuisines has definitely made me appreciate rich tastes.