Vegan Vagabond

Vegan Vagabond

Posted February 8, 2010

Published in Lifestyle

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If you wouldn't eat it at home, why do you eat it on the road?

Read More: travel, vegan, vegetarian

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As I am currently on the road, I figured that I would blog about something that I struggle with and something that I know many of my friends and coworkers struggle with. When on the road, we tend to over eat and to eat crap that we typically would never eat if we weren't on the road. When not on the road, I eat a small breakfast of coffee and a small bowl of multi grain cereal with unsweetened soy milk. For lunch, if I have lunch, I will typically eat a chopped salad of mixed greens, raw vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fruits, and balsamic vinegar (no oil, no salt). For dinner, I will have a small meal that usually consists of brown rice and some type of legume stew (lentils, garbanzos, etc). My wife is Peruvian, so we lean toward veganized versions of Peruvian dishes.

Lately, something that I have really been hooked on is mixed roasted vegetables and some type of greens (kale, collard, mustard). I cut up a rutabega, a large turnip, a sweet potato, a large carrot, half a head of cauliflower (separated), a head of broccoli (separated), about a dozen halved brussel sprouts, and a generous number of garlic cloves. I rinse them all in water and then sprinkle them with a generous amount of seasonings. You can use salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary, cajun seasoning, or whatever you choose. You can use oil, but I don't. I like a dry roast and, besides, oil is just empty fat and calories. Spread everything out in a roasting pan and slide the pan into a preheated oven set to 400 degrees. Shake the pan every 15 minutes while roasting for an hour. More or less, according to how well done you like your veggies. I like mine a little crispy on the edges, so I turn the oven to broil for about 5 minutes before I remove the pan.

I find this alone to be a great meal. But I will also take a bag of frozen greens, dump them into a pan, throw in a healthy amount of chopped garlic (Can you tell I love garlic?), cover them about half way with water or broth (I use a unbeef bullion, that I buy in cubes at Whole Foods, and water), and then cook for about 25 minutes. I like my greens well done. The roasted vegetables and the greens make an incredible meal for me that is very low fat, very low calories, and packed with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. I generally eat very healthy when I am not on the road. I try to eat less than 2000 calories per day and usually have no problem falling below that number.

Put me on the road and all bets are off. Who knows why? When on the road, I will typically start with the breakfast buffet at the hotel, which will include oatmeal with raisins and walnuts, sliced fruit, orange juice, and coffee. There's nothing unhealthy about this, but it is twice as much as I would normally eat at home. Until recently, I would even hit Starbuck's on the way to my meeting for a large triple shot soy latte, which would easily add another couple hundred calories to my breakfast. Thankfully, I have spared my waist and my wallet of that nasty habit.

For lunch, it is almost always a lunch meeting and I will typically eat some type of pasta dish with oil, salt, and loads of unnecessary calories. For dinner, you guessed it, a dinner meeting where I end up eating more pasta, oil, salt, calories and fat. Why? I have no idea. I could order a salad with balsamic vinegar and eat like at home, but I don't. It's an urge like when the airplane pulls up to the jet bridge and the fasten seat belt sign goes off and everyone jumps up and starts jamming their way off of the plane, pushing and shoving, dashing past each other in the concourse, running down the escalators, only to stand for 20 minutes waiting for luggage at the baggage claim. It makes no sense, but we do it anyway. I over eat on the road and I dash off the plane. Ok, I admit it.

One thing that I really enjoy about being vegan is that being vegan prevents me from eating all kinds of garbage that I wouldn't even hesitate to eat if I weren't vegan. When traveling, I find that I am subjected to an incredible amount of junk food. Cookies, donuts, danish, candy, chocolates, chips, and just about everything else you can imagine, but since these items are rarely vegan, I never touch them. I have the world's worst sweet tooth. Have I said this before? Being vegan is what keeps me from shoveling down 5000 calories a day, I swear.

People always comment on how much discipline I must have to be vegan and, the fact is, I find being vegan easier than watching my consumption and, therefore, I use my vegan diet as a way to keep my consumption down. Confusing? Today, as I was waiting for my flight, I was sitting in the Red Carpet Club (United Airlines' club lounge) and noticed a fellow road warrior firing down muffins like they were donut holes. This guy was probably about 5'8" and that was just his waist!  If those were vegan muffins, that would have been me. No question. Ask the Nelson's. They will tell you. I have no control when it comes to vegan goodies.

In exactly 20 days, I will make my annual trip to Vegas for an industry convention. Sure, I will get to golf at a great golf course that costs $300 per round. Yes, I will be staying at the Four Seasons in a a palacial suite. It will be nice to see my buddies, do some business and have some fun, but, when the plane lands and I shove my way through the airport, dash out to my rental car, and lay rubber out of the airport, I will be dashing to Ronald's Donuts for the best (Only?) vegan donuts in the United States. And I will repeat the trip every day for the 4 days I will be there.

The first time I went, the owner thought I was ordering for a large family that hadn't showed up yet. When I polished off the tray myself and went back for one more boston crème donut, I think I scared her. Now, every year for the past 5 years, she doesn't recognize me until I order my first tray. Then she gives me the, "Ah, back again this year. See you tomorrow." I am on a first name basis with most of the staff at Watercourse Foods in Denver (the BEST vegan bakery in the western hemisphere). Is it because I am so charming or is it because I walk out of there with a massive box of sweet potato cinnamon rolls about every time I show up? My name is Jim and, yes, I am a vegan glutton.

I'm sorry I can't help you with sage advice on avoiding calories while on the road, or on how not to shove your way through airports, but I struggle hard with this. It is my Achilles heel. Maybe if I write this down so you all can see it, it may help me be more successful in controlling my appetite on the road? But not tomorrow. I am going to be in Omaha tomorrow, shoving my way through the airport, and dashing to McFoster's for some vegan cheesecake!! :0)