Tag Archives: travel

Plane Foodie Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of my in-flight meal review! If you read Part 1, then you know that I was very happy and satisfied with the meal I had on my flight to Ireland. Coming back home had some different results. The vegetarian meal looked promising. The salad was much more “exotic” with the inclusion of cucumber, radishes, and greens other than iceberg lettuce. The dressing was again a balsamic vinaigrette, presented in a packet instead of a cute little bottle. I got crackers, a roll and some margarine. And dessert consisted of fruit.

Turning Veganese - Plane Food

The entree was yellow lentils and dhokla with some eggplant. Dhokla is made with a fermented batter derived from rice and chickpea splits. The lentils were good. I’m not familiar with dhokla so I didn’t know what to make of it. It tasted fine but was nothing to write home about. The eggplant was kind of gross. I don’t know what kind of sauce was on it, but the eggplant itself was rubbery.

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I was happy with the fruit for dessert! The strawberries, oranges and melon were really good and fresh. I avoided the pineapple to avoid any tummy issues.

The rest of the passengers had a choice between chicken with gnocchi or cheesy spinach pasta. I don’t remember what kind of dressing came with it, but my mom opted to use the rest of my balsamic vinaigrette in her salad. I tried some of the gnocchi – it was prepared with a tomato sauce and was much more tasty than my entree. Their dessert was a cookie.

Next time you fly and your ticket includes a meal, don’t forget to call up the airline and request a vegan or vegetarian meal! It’s an adventure in itself and may even help introduce you to new foods like dhokla.

Stay tuned – I’ll be posting soon on my culinary adventures in Ireland! –Melissa

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Plane Foodie Part 1

Hey, remember when airlines used to provide snacks or meals on every flight? That doesn’t happen on domestic flights anymore — unless you’re a fancy first class passenger — but it thankfully still occurs on international flights (okay, maybe not flights from Chicago to, say, Toronto, but you get it).

So why am I talking about plane food? I just got back from a ten day trip to Ireland. Prior to leaving, I was told by more than one person that Ireland is a beautiful place. They’re not kidding!

Ireland - Cliffs of Moher

We contacted the airline prior to our departure to request a vegetarian meal. Note: VEGETARIAN, not vegan. You can also request a vegan/non-dairy meal. That said, the special meals that I got were vegan as far as I could tell. What was also interesting is that one of the two options for the rest of the passengers was vegetarian, which is great! For our flight to Dublin, my entree was a Curried Garbanzo Bean Medley. It came with a side salad, including balsamic vinaigrette dressing, a roll, and honeydew wedges.

Turning Veganese Plane Food

I just love these little salad dressings. For the record, everyone else got a French dressing.

Salad Dressing

I give the entree 4 out of 5 stars. It was really tasty and surprisingly spicy, and I was glad to have a great protein source. The rice was good as was the broccoli, but I felt like some of the carrots were too mushy. Anyone averse to Indian flavors like cumin would not have liked it at all. In that moment, I was grateful that I found the dish tasty and gave myself a pat on the back for being a non-picky eater.

Garbanzos

As I mentioned earlier, one of the options for everyone else was a vegetarian pasta. It looked good and wasn’t creamy or cheesy, so I would have eaten it. And on another day, I may have preferred it. But the great thing about these special meals is that the special diet is considered in all the meal components. There is no butter for the roll, a non-dairy salad dressing is provided, and the dessert is fruit! FRUIT IS AWESOME, especially on long flights – and makes requesting a special meal worth it! It was also much healthier than the 150 calorie cookie given to everyone else.

Even though it should be a no-brainer, I’m happy that airlines provide special meals without any hassle or added fees. It makes traveling, especially overseas, a much more pleasant experience. You also get your food before everyone else, which is pretty nice.

Check back soon for the “plane foodie” review of return flight meal. I will also be sharing some of my favorite dining experiences in Ireland! –Melissa

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Resistance Was Futile

Hello, Veganesers! I’m finally back from my trip to Europe. It was a good time. I saw a lot of sites, mastered foreign public transportation systems, walked in the cold and rain, and conversed awkwardly with the locals. I also ate a lot. And I’m sorry to report that I pretty much failed at staying vegan.

After a successfully vegan voyage across the Atlantic, I was very optimistic about my food choices. I traveled with a large group. Our breakfasts and dinners were included in the travel package. It was only lunch that we needed to (or, really, that we could) get on our own. I was expecting buffet style dinners and breakfasts, so I was ready to load up on fruits and veggies and toast with jam and salad and rice and potatoes. I packed a bunch of protein bars to eat during the day so that I wouldn’t have to depend on whatever our lunch choices were.

I wasn’t prepared when I realized that we had a sit-down service for dinner every night. If the hotel didn’t know in advance that there was a vegetarian in the group (there were actually two of us and explaining that I didn’t eat meat was confusing enough so I didn’t say “vegan”), then we had to settle for whatever meal was being served. Luckily, this only happened on two occasions.

The meals usually started with soup; I think it started with a salad on just one night. The soups were usually a vegetable soup, but I can’t say they were vegan. The entree was chicken, beef, or pork served with fries or rice or potatoes and veggies like broccoli. On the nights when I didn’t get my “special” meal, I gave my meat to someone else in the group and ate the rest. And then I had a protein bar in my hotel room.

It was really interesting to discover what “vegetarian” meant wherever we went. In Portugal and Spain, I was served mushroom omelettes with veggies on the side. Luckily, there were plenty of mushrooms so I just picked them out of the egg. In France… sigh… I was given fish. Fish with a side of creamy rice one night and fish with a side of green beans the next night. It was hard to be disappointed when the servers were so proudly serving me my “vegetarian” dish. I could have skipped the fish, but I didn’t for two reasons. One, I was really hungry by the time dinner rolled around, especially after all the walking we did everyday. Two, it bothered me that a lot of people complained or left their food uneaten if they didn’t like it and, while I don’t really eat fish anymore, I felt really guilty throwing it out. (Also, it was kind of delicious. I know, I know, I’m a horrible vegan. I can only eat so many vegan snack bars before I want to hurl.)

There were small victories. We did have a buffet dinner one night, and I was able to eat a ton of salad with yummy fresh veggies along with a ton of yummy artichokes. A lot of the hotels served mushrooms in the morning, so I was able to load up on something warm and delicious and nutritious. I was able to get vegetable soup or other veggie dishes for lunch, like pasta or veggie paella. And on a cold day in Paris, I resisted the urge to get French onion soup and got a salad instead. The arugula was soooo good.

The plane ride back home offered a nice dose of getting back to my vegan diet. I was too tired to take photos, but I got a nice and tasty pasta arrabbiata with a side of veggies in a vinaigrette dressing and fresh fruit for dessert. I was again glad to hear that a vegetarian option was offered to everyone else, but this time it was an Indian dish with paneer that I would not have been able to resist. Then, for snack time, I got a triple decker sandwich with fresh cucumbers and red pepper on this really tasty brown bread. I was happy with that.

I’m confident that I would have been more successful at staying vegan had most of my meals not been included with the travel package. I did pay for it, after all. Unfortunately, we were on the road a lot and in remote locations for most of the trip, so a walk to a nearby market or restaurant wasn’t possible. We even went to a small spot that had a grilled ham and cheese sandwich on the menu, and they wouldn’t make it without the ham. I do consider it a victory that I avoided meat. It wasn’t easy since everyone around me was eating it and it all smelled so good.

I would love to go back to Europe for obvious reasons but also because I would like to have an opportunity to seek out vegetarian and vegan places. Our tour guide was very passionate about saying that there are no vegetarian restaurants and everyone eats meat, which of course cannot be true. The trip also demonstrated to me that “vegetarian” has a different meaning depending on where you are and “vegan” is still a totally new concept.

Looks like we’ve got a lot to teach the world, you guys! And I better start by being a real vegan myself. –Melissa

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Plane Food!

I just got to Europe, you guys! It will be an adventure in many ways, including in terms of what I eat. I packed a bunch of vegan snacks just in case I go hungry. I also requested a special meal for the long plane ride.

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I had almost forgotten that I requested a special meal until it was plopped down in front of me well before they started distributing meals to everyone else. Once everyone else got their meals, two differences were obvious: the dessert (everyone else had what could best be described as Cool Whip with chocolate shavings on top) and the salad dressing:

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How freaking cute is this little bottle of vinaigrette?! It was also pretty tasty. Now, well… I could have sworn that I took a photo of the main entree, but maybe I didn’t because I was a bit disappointed. It was white rice with steamed green beans, carrots, and peas with maybe a teaspoon of tomato sauce smeared on top of it. I was happy it was vegan, but then I overheard that the regular dinner choices were a chicken and potato dish or a vegetarian rice plate with lentils and tofu. Um, HELLO?! I wish they had offered me that choice.

Other than that, I had little to complain about. Everything was pretty fresh and I didn’t starve.

Looking forward to telling you more about the ups and downs of being vegan while on a controlled tour of Europe! –Melissa

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Vegan Goodies at O’Hare Part 2: Eggplant Parmesan

Last week, I wrote about how I stumbled upon a great spot for vegans at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport and reviewed the Grilled Southwest Tofu Wrap. Today, I’d like to tell you about the other prepared food that I purchased: Vegan Eggplant Parmesan.

It wasn’t the most photogenic food, but goodness it was delicious — “gross-looking but tasty” has been a theme this week. I have to admit that I was skeptical. I have had vegan pasta dishes before where tofu subbed in for cheese, but I hadn’t had any worth blogging about.

As you can see, there aren’t that many ingredients. My first bite served as an acclimation to the non-cheese taste. My second bite was better. By my third, I was in love with it. Unlike traditional parmesan dishes, it wasn’t bready, greasy or saucy. It was almost like a light and creamy vegan cake with soft layers of fresh eggplant and perfectly made vegan cheese. It had a great texture to it, and I would have sworn that the cheese was tofu-based if I didn’t see in the ingredients list that it was soy milk-based.

I got three meals out of the 10oz container, which made it worth the price. As a reminder, I found this in the AIRPORT! Unbelievable. I am actually sad to know that my next planned flight will be out of a different terminal, so I won’t be visiting Cibo Express.

There are still more goodies from the airport and Toronto that I’ll tell you about soon, and they’re all snack items. Yay! –Melissa

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Vegan Goodies At … O’Hare? Yes!

It’s weird to think that I may have found a tiny vegan mecca at O’Hare, but I totally did. In a place where true vegan options are limited to icky-looking salad and… well, that’s it, I was thrilled to find Cibo Express in Terminal 3. I discovered it while walking out of the terminal after my flight home yesterday. It’s a bit tucked away in an area with less traffic, which is why I didn’t see it before. I wish I had seen it when I was stuck in the airport for two hours last Friday!

In addition to a wide variety of snacks, treats, fruit and drinks, Cibo Express has several prepared vegan foods by Soul Gourmet, a company whose prepared foods you can often find in local Whole Foods stores. There was a Jerusalem Steak sandwich, Buffalo Tofu, Vegan Root Salad and several other vegan options. There were also non-vegan options like your usual turkey and tuna sandwiches, which looked really great. I went with the Grilled Southwest Tofu Wrap, pictured above.

Whoa. This was tangy and delicious (and fatty, but I could only handle half in one sitting). The tofu had a great texture and didn’t have that tofu taste. In fact, I think this could have fooled a carnivore. I’m pretty weary of airport foot in general, but I found the wrap and its innards to be really fresh (and I picked it up at about 8pm). I also picked up the Vegan Eggplant Parmesan. The best by date on is May 9, which is a little scary, but I’m also confident that it will still be in top shape when I try it tomorrow (and I will certainly report my thoughts on this here blog). I was just super jazzed to find this place. If I hadn’t, I would be blogging about how I ate super size fries for dinner last night.

I picked up some other treats both in the airport and in Toronto, which is where I was over the weekend. I can’t wait to try all my new vegan goodies and share my thoughts with you!

What vegan-friendly gems have you discovered in an airport? Let me know! –Melissa

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