Vegan Fast Food: Mission Impossible?

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Traveling around as much as we have the past few months, at times it seems impossible to find a decent vegan meal (heck, even a snack) that isn’t just a vehicle for empty carbohydrates and sugar.  Another cinnamon raisin bagel?  More pretzels? Oh yes, please.  On days trapped in the car or traveling by plane — and particularly when I have not planned ahead — I find myself mindlessly scavenging on salty or sweet snacks and drinking way too much black coffee.  I arrive at my destination feeling neither particularly hungry nor satisfied, and ready to poke someone’s eyes out. 

One of my recent, accidental, and brilliant travel discoveries (while driving alone with two young children) has to be stopping at a grocery store–Albertson’s, I think–replete with a Starbucks near the family restroom. My kids are still small enough to stuff into a grocery cart, so after wheeling us all into the bathroom, I made my way to the Starbucks stand, planning on getting yet another coffee and be on my jittery way, and instead was pleasantly surprised by the savory meal options. A brown rice, butternut squash, kale, beets, and summer peas with lemon tahini dressing?! Somebody slap me! I usually promote patronage of local coffee shops, but I must recommend Starbucks salads for vegans on the go. (Of course, it’s always great to plan ahead and pack fresh fruits, vegetables, and mixed raw nuts for the trip, but if you’re like me you feel like a superhero just remembering your wallet and your children.)

My other favorite fast food option is always Mexican cuisine — even faux Mexican like Taco Bell can do in a pinch, just order the Fresco Bean Burrito, grilled. Alright, my fellow nomad, please sit down, because I have some very exciting vegan news hot off the grill. . . Chipotle restaurants, following California’s lead, will now (as of tomorrow!) offer a specifically VEGAN option throughout the Pacific Northwest: Sofritas – shredded, organic tofu braised with chipotle chiles and roasted poblanos. I tried one of these rad burritos in Irvine, California recently, and I can vouch for them. Totally yummy.

Sandwich places are hopping on the vegan train, too, offering increasing vegan options beyond the cardboard-like veggie burgers we’ve all endured — or, worse, lonely buns sporting only lettuce, condiments, and pickles. I try to find places that use hummus, of course, or at least avocados or dairy-free dressing so I’m not choking down a bone-dry sandwich. Of course, regardless of what I find, there’s always more coffee to wash it down, right? 🙂
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