A Plant-Eater On The Move

Today marks the end of six weeks of eating an entirely plant-based diet (moving little by little to whole foods). It’s also my last night of a short business trip to Charlotte. This week I faced my first real challenge.

Could I maintain my new way of eating when I was traveling?

The Queen was the first to eat better while away from home. She spent most of a week in Atlanta a couple of weeks ago for her business. She had a tough time. Limited plant-based food options at a large trade show (with a tight schedule limiting her ability to venture away from the site to search for other choices). She had a few days of multiple protein bars and rice and beans with tortilla chips from a Mexican restaurant. On her last day at the event she finally found a restaurant with a menu that embraced, rather than accommodated, people trying to remove animal products from their meals.

I was hoping for slightly better results.

I did my homework before I left home. I knew that the hotel I was staying at offered a vegan burger as an entree. The cafeteria vendor my company contracts with specifically offers healthy options so I was hoping for some plant-based lunches.

Here’s what I think.

The Good

  • Google Maps was surprisingly useful. Just searching for “vegan restaurants” offered a number of options.
  • The hotel staff pointed me to a delicious fast-casual plant-based restaurant – Cava. (Yum!)
  • A random trip at lunchtime today provided one of the tastiest and most filling meals I’ve ever had. (Wrapway and their Turkish-as-vegan grain burger wrap with lentils!)

The Bad

  • Complimentary breakfasts suck if you’re aiming for whole food plant-based meals. Oatmeal. With some dried cranberries and blueberries. Meh.
  • “Winging it” is a real leap of faith. Protein bars are OK as a backup but no one is living on them. No one happy, that is. You might get lucky without a plan – Wrapway, for example – but it’s a gamble. 
  • Vegan burgers… are not worth it, in my opinion. After a long day at the office yesterday, I had no energy to venture out in search of adventure. I figured I’d grab a meal at the hotel bar and try a Beyond Burger. The taste and texture were surprisingly beef-like. But by the time I was done with the burger, I was sick to my stomach. A little Google Fu today answered that question. The Beyond Burger is loaded with oil (and, as a result, fat). It’s a perfect example of vegan junk food. I spent the rest of the evening sick in my room. My meals at Cava and Wrapway were immensely more satisfying.

Overall

I was pleasantly surprised with the options available to me in a good sized city with a little planning. Asking locals and using Google gave me a number of options. (I can’t imagine how hard this must have been even a few years ago!)

In giving up animal products I’ve given up the “I-can-stop-anywhere-and-eat-when-I’m-hungry” carefree attitude. But this is just another cost-benefit calculation. I’ve already made my choice weighing how good I feel and health marker improvements against the taste of a steak or burger. I’ll take the feeling good, weight loss, and cholesterol reduction over the ability to pull into the closest fast food chain. Nah, not even a moment of hesitation on this one.

To paraphrase (and mash together!) a couple of songs, I’m a ramblin’ travelin’ PLANT-EATIN’ man!

Cava’s Greens and Grains with Falafel

Wrapway’s Grain Burger with Lentils

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