Traveling Vegetarian Adventures

Last Thursday I left Durham and headed for Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. I returned Saturday afternoon. During my travels I made eating vegetarian a priority (though not a requirement). Here’s how it went.

First, traveling as a vegetarian is a bit tricky. If you really, really pay attention to what is offered on a typical menu it is mostly meat based. Portabella mushroom sandwiches are everywhere and are sometimes the only vegetarian option on a menu or one of two options. What if you don’t like portabella mushroom sandwiches? I certainly have no desire to eat one.

On Thursday morning I ate breakfast at home before skipping off to the airport. I had lunch at Chicago O’Hare. My first real hunt for a vegetarian option got me a great mozzeralla, tomato, and basil sandwich with a balsmic dressing. I also got a bananna and a coke. The whole thing cost around 14.00 which seemed a tad expensive.

I had dinner with a lovely group of women that evening. We went to a fantastic Asian restaurant called Hu’s. Hu’s didn’t have any vegetarian options that excited me. They did exist, but I decided to go for the green curry chicken. It had three flames next to it (the highest number of flames a dish can receive). It was really nice and spicy. My mouth stayed toasty warm the entire time.

On Friday I did just fine with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. However, at lunch and dinner I again was faced with limited options. Now, to be fair, I did not tell anyone I was trying to eat as a vegetarian. I just wanted to go with the flow and see how things went. Plus, this really helped me understand what it’s like to travel and try to eat vegetarian (it can be some work).

At lunch I was able to get a salad, and at dinner – room service – I had nachos. Nachos may have really been my only vegetarian option. I think the salads had meat in them. Don’t quote me on that.

Coming back through O’Hare on Saturday I was again looking for lunch. It was here that my brain and I engaged in our first vegetarian battle. My brain did not want a vegetarian meal. I figured this out after I had visited several places, each with decent vegetarian options, and my brain explained to me that I was not in the mood for those items.

What did my brain want?

Yep. My brain wanted me to eat a nice, hot, juicy chicken sandwich. Or a hamburger. Or anything that had beef in it. My brain was OK with beef if chicken could not be located. It even stopped me at a sushi bar and tried to talk me into that.

Once I realized what was going on I got back in control of things. I told my brain that there were many nice vegetarian options available which meant there was no reason to stray and eat meat. My brain is still not speaking to me at the moment. However, with a little more walking around I found a Tortas Frontera owned by Rick Bayless. I got myself the Tres Queso Mollet:

It was divine, and also the perfect size. I had space left for a chocolate brownie later on.

So, at the end of all this what did I learn?

It is not impossible to be a vegetarian while traveling – at least in the context I did it in. Even the night I opted for green curry chicken, I could have eaten vegetarian. I don’t regret eating that chicken. When will I get back to Hu’s in Winnipeg again? Exactly. I am glad though that I am not traveling during my 60 day challenge. It is much easier to remain a vegetarian when I control my meals and when I am familiar with the restaurants I go to.

The meat cravings I experienced in Chicago have not gone away. Today, they intensified after yoga class. There I was, driving home at 10:30 in the morning and all I wanted was a plate of meat. That was a first! Usually I want a coke. It will be interesting to see if I continue to get them. I am curious as to why I get them. I never felt addicted to meat. I feel addicted to coke and chocolate, and then when I crave those things that makes sense. But meat? Totally new to me!

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