Friday, November 2, 2012

Vegan travel update

I'm going to be more personal in this post than I have in most of my previous ones, and talk about my eating disorder.  As they say in the Post-Punk Kitchen, shiitake is about to get real.

A couple weeks ago, I posted about my food-related preparations for a business trip.  I used to overeat, and eat a lot of junk food, when I traveled.  Now I have a new pattern:  I put a tremendous amount of energy into preparing for the trip, I eat really carefully while I'm away -- if anything, I undereat -- and then there's a backlash.  Either on the last day of the trip, or right after I return, my inner brat takes over and I overeat all kinds of junk.  And I get a resurgence of all the emotional and spiritual symptoms of my eating disorder, too -- the lying, the sneaking around, the shame, the labile temper, the social isolation.  It's amazing how quickly it happens.  And then, eventually, things settle down and I get back to baseline.

I need to put some real effort into studying this pattern and figuring out how to change it.   But not this morning!  This morning I'm going to share what I learned about travel food.

On this trip I tried some products I hadn't used before, and one that I had tried before but never taken on a trip.

This stuff comes in chocolate and vanilla flavors.  The vanilla is more successful -- less gritty, with a mild flavor.  I like that this is soy free, too.  It's expensive, though, and I will probably stick with my beloved hemp protein in the future.

This is really tasty, and I got it on sale. It's not very filling, though, and it is relatively high in fat and sodium.  Seems like not enough bang for the calories.  I'm not sure whether I would use this again.

This was the hit of the trip -- shelf-stable hummus in a cardboard tube.  One package has 63 calories and 6 grams of protein, which is about half a meal's worth.  They came in a box of five.  I love that I can stick this in my purse and whip it out in case of emergency.  It was good on raw carrot sticks that I'd brought from home.  I also brought some along to the awards luncheon and put it on my salad in lieu of dressing.  That was great, and added some much needed protein to the meal, which for the meat eaters was chicken piccata, veggies, and rice pilaf.  The vegetarians got veggies, rice pilaf . . . and a broiled tomato half.  I'm sorry, half a tomato is not an adequate substitute for a big slab of chicken.  They couldn't have given us seitan piccata, or my personal favorite, the chickpea piccata  from Appetite for Reduction?  I guess not.  Pocket hummus to the rescue!  I will absolutely be bringing this on future trips.  It's fun to eat, too -- you tear off a corner of the tube, and squeeze it out like buttercream frosting.  It's not the best hummus I ever ate, but that's okay.

In addition to the foods highlighted here, I brought some of my old standbys:  McDougall split pea and black bean soup cups, instant oatmeal, hemp protein, and almond milk.  On the last day I scored some little cans of grapefruit and pineapple juice from the breakfast buffet, and later mixed them with hemp protein powder for lunch and an afternoon snack.  I also discovered that Ocean City is not as much of a food desert as I'd previously thought.  On the last day I had some free time, and I was starting to worry about not having enough food.  This happens to me pretty regularly, and I think it is probably an eating disorder symptom.  If I think I am going to run out of the food I need, I get really anxious.  So I decided to wander around Coastal Highway a bit, and see if I could scare up anything to supplement the remaining food I had.

My first stop was 7-11.  In my experience, 7-11 can be a decent place to score apples, bananas, and sometimes baby carrots.  For those who can handle it, you can also get nuts, dried fruit, and Clif bars (I can't eat any of those things safely, but if you can, more power to you).  I was hoping for some carrots to eat with my oh-so-fabulous pocket hummus, but no.  What they did have was a fuckton of junk food. I got out of there before I could do something stupid.

Across the street from 7-11 is a SuperFresh grocery store.  All the SuperFresh stores in my part of Maryland have closed, and this one actually looked closed, but there were cars in the parking lot so I decided to check it out.  And wow.  This place has an excellent produce section, including some stuff packaged for convenience.  The fresh herbs looked better than what I can often find at home.  I got a package of baby carrots and celery sticks.  They also had Tofurky slices!  Score!  I explored a little more and found some shelf-stable organic soy milk.  I definitely have to remember this place.  I wouldn't want to have to go grocery shopping immediately upon arrival, especially when I'm working, but this is a valuable safety net that I hope will ease some of my food anxiety in the future.  Thank you, tourism.  Gentrification has worked to the vegans' benefit.

I'm leaving today on another trip to Ocean City, this time for personal reasons.  We made these plans months ago, and apparently Sandy did not wash the hotel away, so we're hitting the road this afternoon.  This time I am not working and we are bringing our own car, so I have a cooler full of food I cooked while I was home for the storm.  Maybe home cooking will help to prevent the post-trip food backlash.  I'll report back next week.


  1. I hear ya about restaurants not knowing how to feed vegans. We go to Horseradish Grill when my husband's family is visiting for Thanksgiving most years, and their "vegan plate" is a collection of steamed veggies, and a greens salad with vinaigrette. Not a nut, bean, or starch in sight. I just pre-eat when we're headed there now and consider their "meal" a snack. I've considered smuggling in some nooch before to liven things up, but packing a little container of hummus is pure genius!

    1. Wow, at least at my meal I got some rice! A few months ago I had to go to a retirement party for work. I researched the restaurant and the only thing I could eat was a side salad. I ate a big bowl of chili before lunch, and ate my salad for dessert.

      The nice thing about the hummus is, because it's shelf stable you could just keep one in your bag or your car all the time, for emergencies.