Top 10 Tips for Vegan Travel

It's the busiest travel time of the year here in the United States and I thought I'd share a few tips I've learned through my travels. I've done my fair share of traveling and have managed to eat vegan throughout my travels. It hasn't always been easy, but it's become a whole lot easier as I've learned along the way. I hope these tips helps you make it through your holiday travel (or any travel) with ease.

1. Research food options before you go: googleHappyCow, local bloggers - Check both airports & destination. Find directions too (you may not be able to access the internet at your destination). Sometimes this information is out of date so try to pick a few options just in case the restaurant you've selected has recently closed. I've traveled with and without researching ahead of time and doing the research ahead means the difference between a delicious vegan meal and something that you're eating just to survive.

2. Order a vegan meal on the airplane if your flight serves food. You need to do this ahead of time.
Call the airline phone number, or add vegan meal option online through your reservation information.

3. If you're traveling abroad, look up how to say vegan in the language of your destination. Also look up vegetarian, no meat, no chicken, no fish, no dairy, no eggs, etc. because some people will not know what vegan means. Sometimes people even think that vegetarian includes chicken, fish, etc. I have used google in the past, but recently found this site with vegetarian phrases. You could also get a vegan passport which has this information in a handy little guide book for you.

4. Pack your own cruelty-free products. Sometimes the nicer hotels actually have vegan toiletries, but this is pretty rare. You can usually get travel size products at health food stores, Whole FoodsAvedaOrigins. I'm not sure about travel sizes exactly, but I know you can have them cut you tiny pieces of vegan soap bars at Lush. You can also get those little plastic travel containers and fill them with your favorite cruelty-free bath and body products.


5. Bring snacks! (Larabars, trail mix, peanuts, sandwiches, fruit, veggies, hummus, individual size nondairy milks) Consider instant smoothie mixes or protein powders (such as Vega) that will stay good for the length of your trip and can be added into water or juice when you're on the go. I had to rely on these several times when we took a tour group and we had little, if any, time to get lunch some days.

6. Bring your own add-ins: for example: avocado, hemp seeds, nuts can all be added to salad and you can usually find a salad anywhere. This saved me a few times on my recent Scotland / Ireland trip. I have also added nuts or hemp seeds to a plain pasta dish.


7. Look for foods or snacks that are naturally vegan: nuts, hummus, peanut butter, plain potato chips, juice, fruit, veggies. Check out these accidentally vegan foods. They may not be foods you'd eat on a regular basis, but it's nice to have readily available vegan food options.


8. Keep an eye out for eateries that usually have vegan options: ethnic restaurants, Chipotle (or similar), Noodles & CompanyPei WeiP.F. Chang's, salad places, juice bars. Here's a list of chain restaurants with vegan options.

9. Consider grocery stores or health food stores when restaurants with veg options are nonexistent or few and far between. Sometimes these health food stores even have decent cafes. While traveling in not very veg-friendly areas of the Southern United States, we have eaten a few meals from the Whole Foods salad bar and hot food bar. It seems weird but one of my favorite memories from Italy was eating a jar of artichoke hearts from a tiny shop while standing in the rain. (They had other options; I just somehow thought this was really fun.) You can usually find health food stores listed on HappyCow.

10. Use the hotel to your advantage and get creative with it's amenities. Usually hotels will allow you to use their microwave even if there is not one in your room. You just have to ask the front desk. They may also let you have a refrigerator in your room if you ask for it. You can do a lot with that tiny coffee maker or tea maker. I used the tea maker in our room in Scotland to heat water to make vegan Ramen noodles I packed for an emergency situation (and being stuck in the room with a sick person without being able to leave was kind of an emergency situation). I have used a coffee maker to heat water for instant soups like Dr. McDougall's and rice noodles which I combined with veggies and those tiny soy sauce packets. When we traveled to Cleveland for one of my husband's work parties and I thought we wouldn't have good vegan options at the dinner party, I microwaved an Amy's soup and ate it before heading to the party.


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Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes from Ellen's Chef Roberto Martin

Chef Roberto Martin and Ellen DeGeneres
Chef Roberto Martin and Ellen DeGeneres
Thanksgiving is right around the corner and I wanted to share another great video to help with your Thanksgiving meal planning. In this video from the Ellen Show, Ellen DeGeneres's Chef Roberto Martin shows how to create your own vegan turkey-less roast and some ideas for side dishes. I have put links to some Thanksgiving recipes from Ellen's website below the video. I found her website to be a little difficult to navigate if you are specifically trying to find Thanksgiving recipes so here you'll have them all in one place.



Salads:

Quinoa and Cranberry Salad (This is a great recipe to bring to Thanksgiving when you are the only vegetarian and you want a healthful, protein-rich food that you can eat and share with the omnivores at your gathering)

Grilled Apple and Pear Salad

Mixed Greens with Grilled Persimmons, Pomegranate Reduction and Toasted Hazelnuts

Main Dishes:

Turkey-less Roast

Quick Mushroom Gravy (not a main dish, but it goes with the roast)

Vegan Pot Pie (This recipe uses a vegan chicken substitute. If this bothers you, just replace the vegan chicken with extra vegetables and you have a main dish that doesn't try to mock a meat dish in any way)

Sides:

Stuffing

Vegan Mashed Potatoes

Garlic and Chive Mashed Potatoes

Mashed Yams

Roasted Carrots and Sweet Potatoes

Roasted Butternut Squash and Yams with Caramelized Leeks

Vegan Green Bean Casserole

Sicilian Collard Greens with Pine Nuts and Raisins

Desserts:

Pumpkin Pie

Pecan Pie

Mixed Berry Cheesecake

Oven Roasted Banana Rum Cheesecake with Spiced Pecan Crust and Maple Rum Sauce

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Creating a Vegan Thanksgiving or Holiday Meal with the Compassionate Cook

The Compassionate Cook - Colleen Patrick-Goudreau
The Compassionate Cook - Colleen Patrick-Goudreau
I don't know about you, but now that it's November I can't stop thinking about Thanksgiving. I have been doing a little research into Vegan Thanksgiving dishes and I came across this excellent video from one of my favorite cookbook authors, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. I think this video will help those of you planning your own vegan Thanksgiving meal as well as those of you who might have a vegetarian or vegan coming over for the holidays.





I love when she says "just because we've always done something, doesn't mean we have to keep doing it."

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau is so much more than just a cookbook author. She has a podcast, makes videos (one of which I found at a local library), runs the 30 Day Vegan Challenge and more. She is an advocate for animals and makes veganism delicious and easy for all of us. Browse her site, where you can also get my favorite of her books, The Joy of Vegan Baking.

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Tips for Going Vegan from Reader's Digest

Monday, November 04, 2013 , , , 4 Comments


World Vegan Day was November 1st and veganism got a little more attention than usual. When I came across 'Becoming Vegan: 12 Tips from the Experts' from none other than Reader's Digest, I almost had to pinch myself. Really. I even love how it starts out - "Vegan's not just a buzzword." It took Reader's Digest to inform me that more American's consider themselves vegans than vegetarians. Wow. Although this article is about going vegan, I think that these are great tips for going vegetarian AND for those of us who already are vegan or vegetarian. Though I've been vegan for years now and vegetarian for even longer, I found out new information from Becoming Vegan: 12 Tips from the Experts. Here are a few of my favorite tips they give with a little of my own input on each one:

# 1. Go at your own pace. I think this is a great tip because going vegetarian or vegan can seem overwhelming, if not impossible, to some people if they have to do it overnight. Being vegan is easy once you know the tips and tricks, but if you're clueless it can be crazy hard. It's good to give yourself some time to figure things out. That said, this tip only works for some people. For many people, finding out what happens to animals or just how devastating the impacts of a non-veg diet can be on the environment or their own health, it becomes impossible to continue living the way they were when they were totally ignorant. If you are one of these people, I suggest you really focus on tip # 4 and tip #12 below. 

# 4. Find a vegan support group. I think the phrase 'support group' can have a negative connotation, but the idea behind this tip is still pretty right on. Changing the way you eat can be a big deal and it's possible that people around you will feel threatened or feel like you are turning your back on tradition or them when you're really just trying to make a positive impact on the world and yourself. People can be judgmental when they don't understand something. You need some cheerleaders in your corner who get what you're trying to do. It's great if you know someone already and maybe they can introduce you to some of their friends, but if you don't there are still plenty of options for you. Try to find a Vegan group in your area, such as through meetup.com or a local group like VegMichigan. In addition to local groups, you can also find yourself an online group of virtual cheerleaders. Search out some online vegan groups or vegan blogs. You will find a lot of vegans on facebook, pinterest, instagram, twitter, etc. Without a doubt, you will find someone who knows of some resources, recipes, restaurants, etc. that you didn't know about no matter how hard core of a vegan you may already be. 

# 12. Get resourceful! Case in point. I did not know about half the resources presented with Tip #12 in the Reader's Digest article. There is so much helpful information out there, get searching. This is the best time there has ever been to find information on anything you want - including going vegan. I have shared a few links on my website of sites I have found helpful, but there are TONS and tons more. Whatever you are looking for, do a search. If you're still having trouble, ask someone from your vegan 'support group.' 

Going vegetarian or vegan can seem overwhelming, but with the right support, it can be easy as (vegan) pie. Even mainstream media outlets such as Reader's Digest are now willing to help you make the transition! Whether you are just considering ways to incorporate more vegetarian/vegan options into your diet or you are a long-time vegan, check out these great tips from Reader's Digest.

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Anjali's Vegan Gajar Halwa / Gajar Ka Halwa (Carrot Pudding)

Vegan Gajar Halwa
Vegan Gajar Halwa
Right now there are more than a billion happy people celebrating the Indian holiday Diwali. Diwali is kind of like a combination of Christmas and New Years. Homes throughout India are adorned with colorful decorations and earthen lamps (which are kind of like candles in clay bases) and fireworks are going off all around. People are dressing up in new clothes, getting together with family and friends and exchanging sweets, dried fruits and nuts. Sweets are always such an important part of Indian festivals and holidays, and I am so excited that my friend Anjali has decided to share a recipe with us just in time for this mother of Indian festivals!

Diwali decorations
Diwali decorations from Anjali's place in Michigan
(This ancient Indian symbol is used to decorate many homes throughout India. The Swastika is an auspicious symbol, not to be confused with the Nazi Swastika which Hitler stole from the Indians and perverted. Most of the people of India are of Aryan origin and preserved this ancient Aryan symbol as a part of their culture. In his quest to find a symbol of Aryan pride, Hitler took this symbol from the Indians and completely changed it's meaning.)

Diwali decorations
Diwali decorations from Anjali's place in Michigan

My husband and I really lucked out when our friend married Anjali because we got another amazing friend out of it! Anjali is kind, beautiful, creative, open-minded, and, most of all, hilarious. She is the kind of person who lights up a room by being in it and you know that any party will be fun as long as she is there. We always enjoy the good company and great food when we go over her place. I could go on and on, but I think you are probably really hungry for this Diwali sweet from the multi-talented Anjali. Here is Anjali's post:

Festival of Lights "Diwali" is here and it goes without saying that in every Indian home, there will be some or other sweets / desserts being planned. There is so much variety in sweets that comes from every corner of India specially for this particular festival . Also, its that time of the year when its lot more pleasant weather wise as well.

As I will be celebrating Diwali with my family in Michigan, I was looking for options that could also be bit healthy ;) considering my 2 year old son.

Gajar Halwa (Carrot Pudding) is an all time classic (healthier!) sweet that is savored at this time of year. There are a few different ways to cook this recipe. I tried to explore the Vegan way :)

Ingredients:
A couple pinches of Cardamom Powder
1 - 2 Tbsp Finely ground nut mix (pistachios,almonds,cashews)
2.5 Cups Finely Grated fresh Carrot (about 5-6 carrots), cleaned and peeled
1/2 tsp Earth Balance Buttery Spread (or other vegan margarine), optional
1.5 Cups Almond Milk
3 - 4 Tbsp Sugar (add to taste)

Servings : 2 people
Time : 30 min
Type : Very easy

Method:
For fresher flavor, you can grind the cardamom by hand in a mortar and pestle. If you do not have one, you could also grind it in a spice grinder or buy ground cardamom.
Grinding Cardamom in a Mortar & Pestle
Grinding Cardamom by Hand

Grind cashews, almonds, and pistachios in a blender.
Ground Nuts for Gajar Halwa
Nut Mix Consistency

Roughly chop carrots and grate them in a grinder, blender, or food processor to an almost fine consistency.
Grated Carrots for Gajar Halwa
Grated Carrots

Optional: In a wider pan, warm vegan butter until melted. In the next step, add the milk to the butter in the same pan.
Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread (Vegan)
Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread (Vegan)

In a wider pan, warm almond milk on medium low flame.

Silk Almond Milk

Warming Almond Milk for Gajar Halwa
Warming Almond Milk

When you see small bubbles start to form in the milk (after about 5 minutes), mix the grated carrot and keep stirring consistently so that the carrot does not stick at the bottom of the pan. Lower your heat to simmer to avoid sticking.
Making Gajar Halwa
Add carrots when bubbles start to form. Keep stirring.

After 10 min or so, the milk will seem almost evaporated and the texture will be creamier as well. Mix in the sugar and nut mix.
Making Gajar ka Halwa
Mix in sugar and nut mix.

Keep stirring and switch off the gas once all the milk has been evaporated in few minutes.

Vegan Gajar Halwa
Vegan Gajar Halwa

The Gajar Halwa (Carrot Pudding) is ready!! It tastes best when warm :).
The carrots are naturally sweet which will add up to the flavor making it a healthy vegan sweet / dessert for kids as well.

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