Just because your clients are vegetarian or vegan or trying to include more plants and less meat in their diets doesn’t mean they can’t travel stress-free. If they’re constantly on the go and need quick meal and snack ideas, plant-based options are plentiful. When eating vegetarian or vegan, encourage clients to get creative to balance meals and snacks with protein, complex carbohydrates, and fat for long-burning energy while traveling.
The following are some strategies for optimizing vegan/vegetarian nutrition and options when eating away from home.
Vegetarian and vegan clients have so many options when dining in restaurants, but it may take some planning ahead. Reviewing restaurant menus in advance and using search apps such as Yelp and HappyCow can help identify the best options in the area they’re visiting. When in doubt, they can choose international cuisine. Indian, Thai and Southeast Asian, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Chinese, and Mexican often offer veggie-heavy cuisine as well as tofu, lentils, or beans for protein.
At the Airport
US Airports including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, Chicago, Baltimore, JFK International, Las Vegas, Portland, Seattle, and Dallas/Fort Worth feature vegan- and vegetarian-friendly restaurants as well as grab-and-go options from kiosks. Qdoba, Chipotle, and other Southwest restaurants make eating vegetarian meals easy. Create a bowl with beans, salsa, brown rice, veggies, and guacamole. Sandwich shops such as Subway and Blimpie allow you to pile on the veggies to create a hearty travel-friendly meal. Restaurants offering soups and salads often will have vegan and vegetarian options. Just use caution with garnishes like bacon, sour cream, and cheese to avoid unwanted animal products.
Grab and Go
Many traditional grab-and-go snacks are vegetarian and vegan friendly. Choose granola bars that don’t contain honey if eating vegan. Tofu, tempeh, and seitan jerkies are protein-rich, savory options. Chia pods made with nondairy beverages are perfect for another protein-rich snack while traveling. However, for specialty products like tofu jerky and chia pods, clients may need to pack these, as they aren’t available at most airports yet. Nuts and seeds, fresh fruit and veggies, and dips like hummus or peanut butter are all healthful snacks that people on any type of diet can enjoy and will keep energy levels high.
On a Road Trip
Suggest clients map out their routes, make hotel reservations, decide which campsites they’d like to visit, and pack food to go before they embark on a road trip. Bringing a cooler filled with vegetarian and vegan grab-and-go options is key for long driving days, as is locating grocery stores when arriving in town to create healthful meals while exploring. Recommend clients check hours of operation, as more rural areas may close their stores earlier.
The bottom line: Clients may have more options than they realize when eating vegetarian or vegan on the go. Whether in the car, getting on a plane, or just running off to work or the gym, there are simple items they can prepare or grab that will make traveling easier, more enjoyable, and more healthful, too.
Come visit me at Champagne Nutrition, where I talk about a healthful, on-the-go lifestyle balanced with travel and champagne drinking. I also have lots of easy vegetarian and vegan recipes there.
— Ginger Hultin, MS, RDN, CSO, is a nutrition health writer, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and a certified board specialist in oncology nutrition. She works at Arivale, a scientific wellness company, as an RD coach and as an adjunct clinical faculty member at Bastyr University. Ginger serves as past chair of the Vegetarian Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group and past president of the Chicago Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She has given nutrition lectures for continuing education credits in Seattle and for Chicago-area dietetic associations and webinars for dietetic practice groups.