Eating out in each city I visit is a different animal (I can’t eat them so I use them as my analogies ).
I don’t want this blog to be all about the successes. The point is to show that being a vegan on the road is doable but it doesn’t come without its rough patches. I have cravings like everyone else. I have weak moments where I want to “settle”. Not necessarily for something not vegan but for something that isn’t the healthier option. Fatigue, hunger, and dehydration can get the best of anyone.
Our first trip to Atlanta this season was a struggle. It felt like all of my plans kept being redirected. I ate lunch at home before we left and had a couple of HeatherBars in my bag for a snack on the plane. Our team was headed straight to practice from the airport so I knew I would have to grab something quickly. Atlanta has the largest airport in the world so I figured if there was one airport that a vegan could find something to eat, it would be this one.
One cool app I like to use when I’m traveling is Gate Guru. It allows you to search airports and see what restaurants/shops are available in each concourse and what gate they are closest to. This is especially convenient when you have a tight connection or don’t feel like walking up and down the concourses to search. When the flight attendants make the announcements with our gate information I fire up the app to see what my options are. It saves a lot of time.
Unfortunately, I could not find anything good to eat in the limited time we had in Atlanta so I got on the bus to practice hungry. That is the worst feeling. Summer Georgia heat/humidity combined with a practice at a local high school AND lukewarm drinking water. I was looking forward to icing my knees after practice just to cool off.
I was so hungry by the time I got back to the hotel I just wanted something quick and easy for dinner. That usually means Chipotle!! My standard Chipotle order is pretty simple; Burrito Bowl with brown rice, black beans, salsa, guacamole, and lettuce. I try to stay away from the chips (even though I could have 3 squares consisting of only chips and guacamole and be very very happy). Even before I became a vegan my rule with Chipotle was that I could only have 1 of these 3, cheese, sour cream, or guacamole, per visit. Guacamole being the best option because it provides the most nutritional value.
There was a Whole Foods a mile away from our hotel and thankfully one of my teammates gave me a ride there after dinner. My plan was to load up on raw food for the next day. This Whole Foods had a juice/smoothie bar! Not all of them do, so when I run across one that does I make sure to get a green veggie juice. Juicing is a super easy way to get a full daily intake of veggies in a 12-16 oz drink. It’s more difficult for me to eat veggies on the road so juice bars are a must. I also purchased some raw kale chips, raw goji bites, vegetables, and some bottled water. I kept in mind that we had an early game on Sunday (3pm) so I would not need to worry about a full day of meals.
We had a team breakfast at 11am so my plan was to wake up early and take the hotel shuttle to Whole Foods (which opens at 9am) for a breakfast smoothie. Unfortunately, when I went downstairs, I was informed that the hotel shuttle does not begin running until 11am. Nothing much worse than waking up early for no reason.
There is always a huge spread at our team breakfasts. Eggs, bacon, pancakes, oatmeal, bagels, muffins, fruit, grits… we were in Atlanta . Our strength coach Jodi, always orders me a huge bowl of fruit. On a normal morning, I could have the oatmeal too, but since I choose to go raw on game days, fruit is pretty much my only option. We watch tape after eating and go over the game plan one more time, then it’s off to get ready for the game.
Playing on the road is never easy and our game vs. Atlanta was a struggle. They played with a ton of energy and intensity and every time we tried to cut into their lead, they would string a few good plays together and stretch it out again. We managed to win with our first lead of the game coming with 3.1 seconds left. Sometimes they’re not pretty but you take them anyway. The added bonus of the 3pm tip was that we were able to fly out after the game and sleep in our own beds that night.
Our next trip to Indiana? Well… that’s a whole different story.