How To Travel As A Vegan

2 J's Milk Alternatives

2 J's Milk Alternatives

So, we're back.  I'd love to say we had a wonderful trip, but unfortunately I threw my back out my first night there.  I'm slowly getting better, but it is still rather uncomfortable to sit for long periods of time.   I won't go into details, because this is a blog about veganism, but man...  If you're having guests  (we were staying at my cousins at the beginning of our trip) you should do a little to make them feel welcome.  Soap, shampoo... a reasonable bed to sleep on.  We're not in college anymore people.  Sleeping on the floor doesn't work for us!!!!  (My cousins are older than we are, so they should have a clue.)  The rest of our trip wasn't as much fun as it could have been because of my back, but we made the best of it.  Wow Montana is GORGEOUS!  But I really wanted to talk about traveling while vegan.

Mayo Options at 2 J's

Mayo Options at 2 J's

We were a little apprehensive about what we were going to eat, so Jane did some advance sleuthing on the internet.  She scoped out the local health food stores along our route, and that basically saved us.  She even printed out maps to these locations, so were were able to find them without any trouble.  I'm happy to announce that we were fully vegan our entire trip with the possible exception of our B&B breakfasts.  The inn keepers assured us our meals were vegan, but unless you do the actual food preparation you have to accept that you'll never really know what you're getting.

Before we left home, Jane packed us a lunch and some goodies for our flights.  She made us sandwiches, and we had nuts and a bunch of fruit, and she also brought about 10 protein bars, fearing our food options for the rest of the trip.  All this extra food proved to be a good thing even before we got to Montana since our two 1-hour flights with short layover turned out to take over 9 hours!  But we did get Biscoff cookies (vegan) on our Delta flights.  Yum!

2 J's Cheese Alternatives

2 J's Cheese Alternatives

Our plan was to stop off at the food co-op in Bozeman after we landed.  Since we didn't get out of the airport until 8.30 pm and we had a 2+ hour drive into the wilds of MT, we skipped it.  My cousins are gluten-free and said they'd have some vegan fare for us.  But we had no dinner that night. We got in at 11 pm, and they didn't think to offer us anything, even though we were supposed to eat with them.  (We'd kept them apprised of our constantly updated ETAs.)  Thank God my wife is a girl scout! (Another hosting hint people: offer your guests food and water when they arrive!)

Our stay with the cousins was okay.  We did get vegan food, but no discernible protein.  Since we had our stash of protein bars and nuts it wasn't a total disaster, but it would have been nice to have something other than grilled veggies and rice.  Normally I don't hold people responsible to feed me when my diet is so far from the mainstream, but wife-of-cousin is a licensed dietician, and said it wouldn't be a problem to feed us.   Just goes to show you that you can't really count on anyone else.

Frozen Foods at 2 Js

Frozen Foods at 2 Js

After cousins, we drove up to Great Falls.  We checked in to our B&B and went in search of provisions and dinner.  On Jane's list was one option in Great Falls:  2 J's Market.  I wasn't expecting much.  WOW!  The selection was amazing.  We bought a ton of food there simply because we could (also, we had access to a fridge in our B&B).  We bought mixed greens for salad, picked up a bottle of salad dressing,  wraps and vegan cold cuts, vegan cheese, an avocado, Primal Strips, and some ice cream.  And a variety of beautiful fruit.  And for dessert, a pint of Purely Decadent Chocolate Brownie Almond.  Then it was off to Taco Bell for bean burritos, no cheese please.  We brought all our goodies back to our room and had a nice spread for dinner.

2 J's Bulk Food Section

2 J's Bulk Food Section

After we made our reservation at both B&B's we phoned and asked if they would be able to accommodate a vegan diet.  They both assured us they had experience feeding vegan guests.  Our first breakfast, at The Collins Mansion, was an oatmeal bake which was good, if a little dry.  But the second morning we had a baked banana thing with home fries and fruit.  Jane was laughing with that we could go into diabetic coma, the bananas were shockingly sweet as they were topped with marshmallow.  When we asked about them, the hostess assured us they were vegan, the marshmallows were made with no egg white.  We explained about the gelatin, but she wasn't particularly receptive and insisted they were vegan.  We picked around the fluff.  You have to go with the flow when you're not eating in your own home!

Bozeman Food Coop Produce

Bozeman Food Coop Produce

We spent the day at the Montana State Fair.  Jane made sandwiches for us, and we brought along some fruit.   That was actually critical.  There were NO vegan food options at the fair.  The closest thing was the fried pickles.  But I'm sure the batter ruled them out.   There were also fried oreos, fried jalapeno peppers, and fried meatballs -- on a stick of course.  And just about everyone we spoke with raved about them.

Unfortunately I really couldn't stay at the fair that long.  I actually got a massage during the fair and managed to stay on my feet until around 6.30, but then we needed dinner, and I needed to lie down.  Once again we hit Taco Bell for our bean burrito fix.  Then back to 2 J's for more salad and vegan ice cream.

Bozeman Food Co-Op Bulk

Bozeman Food Co-Op Bulk

After Great Falls, we drove through Helena.  Another Taco Bell stop for lunch and then off to the Real Food Market.  Another beautiful store.  We picked up some more salad for dinner and a some vegan soup and a loaf of french bread and vegan cheese.   We arrived at our second B&B, the Howlers Inn, (a federal wolf preserve)  and settled in to make dinner.  Our room was equipped with it's own kitchen, which made things simple.

We had the B&B prepare breakfast for two days of our stay.  Our first breakfast was an oatmeal bake.  Sound familiar?  I was laughing with Jane that there must be a Montana B&B Breakfast Cookbook they all use.  Thankfully, we had vegan french toast for breakfast the next morning.  Again, I'm not 100% positive the breakfast was vegan, but the hosts truly cared.  (If you're going to stay in Bozeman, we really recommend this place.  The hosts are friendly and helpful, everything is clean, and they get the concept of breakfast...  free flowing food and beverage.  Unlike the Collins Mansion -- coffee, tea, or water.)  They're also pretty accommodating of alternative eaters.  One morning they had vegans (us), gluten free folk, one vegetarian, and "regular" eaters, and took everything in stride.

Bozeman Food Coop Spices

Bozeman Food Coop Spices

For our afternoons around Bozeman, we had Primal Strips, a delicious vegan jerky,  and other snacks.  If you haven't tried them, you should.  They are amazing.  We really enjoyed the teriyaki flavor.  Yum.   One day we ate at the Bozeman Food Co-Op.   We visited them twice.  Once to pick up a few provisions.  Gorgeous place.  We were jealous.  Although we don't have difficulty finding vegan foods here, the food co-ops and health food stores we visited in Montana were much nicer than what we frequent here.  How unbelievable is that?

Before heading to the airport we also stopped at Huckleberry's Natural Market.  They're attached to a regular grocery store, but you can find tons of vegan food there.  Again, beautiful store with a wide variety of products.

Montanna Fields

Montanna Fields

If it sounds like all we did was visit grocery stores, that's not the case, but I wanted to point out all the food options available whenever you travel.  Also, I really couldn't sit down to eat, so restaurants (which appeared to be VERY limited) weren't really an option for us.   I'm sure there are plenty of locations where we wouldn't have been as successful an we were in Montana, but there are strategies you can take to make your travels as a vegan easier.  I'll touch on that in my next post.

Howlers Inn Wolves

Howlers Inn Wolves

Anyway, Montana is gorgeous, at least in the summer.  And you can make it a vegan friendly trip if you don't mind preparing your own food.

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Comments

  1. this was great to read :)

    during the month of May, my husband and i made a cross-country trip to move to california. it was definitely tough to eat vegan, but it wasn’t impossible. at one point towards the end, i was SO DESPERATE for a LOT of protein that we ended up finding a natural foods store a little bit off the highway (i forget what state, but i think it was Montana), and stocked up on treats– they had a surprising lack of protein options, though. i was almost desperate enough to eat a brick of raw tofu. lol.

    i had to laugh at your taco bell stops. in the month leading up to our road trip, we’d given up our stove, so i couldn’t cook, plus i had almost emptied the pantry anyway. since we were in michigan, there was really NO good vegan food out there…except taco bell. while on the road, i kept putting my foot down at taco bell because i was so sick of it, and holding out for some place better. lol. it was kinda funny. Panera, btw, has great veggie sandwiches (minus the cheese), and often vegan soups. they were such a life saver when it came to getting a fresh meal.

    the marshmallow topping story on the breakfast casserole made me cringe! that’s too bad they were not totally educated about things like gelatin. i guess it happens, but… who puts marshmallows on breakfast food anyway?? hehe.

    speaking of jerky, have you tried Stonewall Jerquee? they’re little soy jerky pieces. The original flavor is really great, although there are a couple other varieties that are too spicy for me. For some weird reason, the inky dinky little grocery store right outside our complex (within a 2 minute walk!) sells them at the register. we always stock up for snacks when we run out of soymilk or something :)

    i hope your back continues to improve! i really sympathize, i have a bad back myself. our first couple days in CA were spent on an air mattress and my back wouldn’t let me walk for a few days. :/ feel better soon!

  2. It’s so funny-I just had a very similar experience. I just got back from Boston where I tore a muscle in my back and was completely unable to move for 2 days. And eating was a disaster. I assumed the kitchen of my pescatarian hosts would have some good options for me, but it turns out they all live on processed fake meats and literally no fruits and veggies. And EVERY restaurant we went to had an appalling lack of choices for me. And I have decided that tofu just does not exist in Massachusetts. Even our Thai restaurant didnt offer tofu!!! I am so happy to be back home where I can actually eat food that has some nutritional value. Being a guest in a non-vegan household can be a total pain in the butt!!

  3. sorry to hear about your back. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Hi Jennifer,

    Jane is that way about hummus and veggie burgers. You can often find those options, but she swears she never has to eat either of those things again. Actually, she makes a great hummus, but we overdosed on that stuff our first few months as vegans.
    Yes, it is a shame about the gelatin, and I wholeheartedly concur about the marshmallows on breakfast food, but think about all that crap breakfast cereal they have for kids. I think most of that candy stuff is mini marshmallows pressed into shapes and dyed?
    Thanks for the well wished. Before this I had no idea. Now I sympathize with all those who suffer back pains!

    Hi Liz,
    It’s amazing isn’t it. We have a hard time when we visit Jane’s mom on the east coast. There are very limited options in the grocery stores. Tofu is $4 at her local grocery store. It’s actually cheaper to go to the nearest Whole Foods. But even they don’t have the selection we have here. I guess you sell to your demographics.
    There were Thai vendors at the Fair. We were excited and thought we’d get something there, but like you experienced in Boston… NO TOFU! Sheesh! As for eating at people’s homes, unless their vegan there is a good chance they’ll be misinformed on some point, no matter how well meaning they might be. We always bring along a source of protein. Otherwise, you can pretty much expect you’ll be going without.

    Hi Vickey,
    Other than caffeine, I haven’t personally found any food to affect my sleep, but I have heard and read that many people are affected. It’s good that you are able to identify that for yourself. Jane has trouble with chocolate in quantity…

  5. Hi Eve,

    Thanks.

  6. Lane,

    Thanks for writing this.

    My wife Sharon recently started a web site for vegan and vegetarian travelers: http://veg-table.net/

    It’s a wiki, so anyone can join and add listings, reviews, and advice. It would be awesome if you would be willing to add some of the places you found in Montana!

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