The subtitle for this blog is “There and Back Again, a Hobbit’s Food Travel”
So this is not much of a vegan food story as it is a travel log, but it is still worth sharing! I started my travel off by getting to the airport early. The night before I made hearty sandwiches of whole wheat bagels, Tofurky pepper slices, mustard, Vegenaise, tomato, pickle and even a ‘cheddar’ Daiya slice. Those were great sandwiches. My flight was going to be a 5 hour non-stop, not counting my time at the airports, so I wanted to be prepared. I also had baggies of cherry tomatoes and sliced cucumber. Baggies of vegetables are great for flights because they are easy to nibble on and low mess. After stopping at Starbucks to get a Cool Lime Refresher, I was ready!
My flight went off without a hitch, really. I even had an empty seat between me and the gentleman next to me. That should have been a portent of scary things to come. By the time I arrived in Newark, got a car, and was ready to drive off, it was 7pm and getting dark quickly. I had been up since 3am, so all I really wanted was my hotel, but I knew I was going to need some food. I found a Whole Foods that was supposed to be 10 minutes from my hotel. I plugged that into my GPS and started driving.
The Whole Foods was having a bridal show, complete with DJ. A DJ in a grocery store? The music was at ear splitting nightclub levels. I am not supposed to have the baby around anything that loud, and sadly, the DJ was playing right by the produce. I headed over to the prepared foods. It was just dinner, right? Maybe something for breakfast? I grabbed some vegan yogurt and Chia Pods for that, a nice tea for the hotel, and then went to the hot foods area. What I was not prepared for was how vegan UNFRIENDLY that Whole Foods was! There were four vegan options – that was it. They had two vegan pizzas, and two wraps – one with Beyond Meat and one with plain, naked tofu. The wraps were not going to work as Beyond Meat gives me a headache and plain tofu is plain so I grabbed some pizza.
I went back to the car, noted it was getting pretty cold, and found to my horror that the GPS had stopped working. Worse, Enterprise refused to do anything about it. I was pregnant, after dark, in a strange city with no way to get to the hotel in a city of very confusing freeways. I did what anyone would have – I cried. Not a little, I actually wet the steering wheel. Then, I saw the Target sign. I bought a GPS. My mom later informed me she would pay me back and make that my birthday present, but at least I got to the hotel! Small victories! The pizza was ice cold at that point, but the thin crust with tomato sauce, spinach, Daiya and mushrooms was pretty good.
The next day I went back to the Whole Foods and got the groceries I needed for my class, and a few things for myself. Sadly, that involved more pizza and a vegan carrot cake. There were so few options! I tried to get some raw foods, but their selection was limited to only a few items. How does a Whole Foods have almost no raw foods? I did grab some fresh fruits and veggies finally, but I was horrified that a very small basket that contained enough food for 3 medium sized meals somehow came to $80! The highlight of that trip was my cart was so full. I was teaching a cooking class for 40 people a hands on class of 4 recipes. I had on my raincoat so I looked either chubby or pregnant. Lots of people were pointing at me, whispering in other languages and laughing. I can only imagine it was some version of “That fat girl getting fatter!” It made me laugh, too.
My last day there ran out before my class to get a few items to eat on the 5.5 hour flight back – almonds, cauliflower, and fruit. A few protein bars rounded out my hasty shopping (I had less than 10 minutes), and I was gone.
All the vegan options were over the bridge in New York, and honestly, I was too tired and too hungry to make a few hour journey to try them out. Maybe next time. But I will say that I felt really tired and protein starved when I got back to the valley. This trip taught me an important lesson, which is never assume that just because there is a grocery store that works well in your area, they will be the same elsewhere. Also, pack some protein options like nuts or tofu jerky you can enjoy even when you can’t find anything else.
Have you been to Englewood, NJ? Do you live right by there? If so, what did I miss out on?