Road trips are not always easy on your body. Sitting in the driver’s seat with your full attention on the road for hours on end can be difficult, especially if you’re driving at night. Cramps are real and it can be tough to remember that you need to stretch and take care of yourself while driving. As a vegan, one of the most difficult parts of traveling through rural parts of the country is finding healthy, vegan food to eat on my stops. Sure, everywhere serves french fries, but eating just fries and gas station oreos makes me nauseous and sleepy. Just like your truck needs good fuel to tow your RV to your campground, your body needs good fuel to keep the adventure going.
While some vegans have a more strict diet than others, everybody can benefit from cutting out the cheeseburger and finding a colorful meal while on the road. Some people only eat meals and snacks that they’ve packed, and others plan out their stops so that they’re able to eat at a healthy restaurant. I usually combine these two strategies. Anything can happen on the road, so it’s important to be prepared.
Pro tip: Remember to pack your own water!
I used to bring my 25 ounce water bottle and fill it up at gas stations along the way. One too many times I’ve come across rancid tasting water, water with grease in it and gas stations who don’t allow you to fill up your own bottle. Now, we pack our own filtered water in our aquatainer so that we are not relying on buying bottled water or drinking contaminated tap water.
Half the fun of going on a road trip is carefully selecting delicious snacks to help you pass the time. Opting for pretzels and hummus over cheetos and m&m’s can make a difference in your energy levels and nutritional intake.
Here’s my list of healthy snacks that I’d recommend:
Requires no prep
- Mixed nuts
- Veggie Straws
- Baby carrots
- Yogurt (dairy-free if vegan)
Requires some prep
- Apples with peanut butter (pre-slice the apples beforehand)
- Pasta salad
- Roasted chickpeas
- Salad in a jar
Pro tip: ALWAYS FIND A GROCERY STORE
- It can be easy to go for gas station food or fast food when you’re hungry on the road, but a grocery store has infinitely better health food options. Try to find a gas station that’s near a grocery store when it’s time to reload on snacks or food to keep your stops to a minimum. Grocery stores will typically have salad bars that you can utilize as well as fresh produce to restock your supply. Knowing your route and planning ahead is key to healthy eating on the road.
US-based chain restaurants with healthy options:
You know those days when you have all the carrots and almonds packed in your car but you really need something heartier than a quick snack? I can get “hangry” on the road, so I know this feeling well. There are certain fast food and fast casual restaurant chains that are scattered throughout the country that have certain healthy options as well as vegan and vegetarian dishes. These are just some of my favorites, but Happy Cow is an amazing search engine that allows you to search for vegan and vegetarian options wherever you are in the country.
- The Five Guys veggie sandwich has become one of my favorite road meals. It’s not huge, but it’s delicious and gives me the pick-me-up I need when I want a hot meal. Some restaurants butter the bun on their veggie sandwich, so if you are avoiding dairy be sure to ask them to skip the butter.
- Check out the guide to vegan dining at Panera here. My favorite is the strawberry poppyseed salad. Panera has an app and offers curb-side pickup at most locations, which is great for a speedy pit stop.
Chipotle, Moe’s, Qdoba:
- Even better, try a local tex mex or mexican restaurant. The benefit of these three chains is they have online ordering to make your stop move faster. At any mexican restaurant, you can easily find a veggie burrito bowl or a sofritas dish that is healthy, protein filled and will keep you full throughout your drive.
- Another American classic that offers online ordering. Order the Fit Fare Veggie Sizzlin Skillet (omit eggs if vegan) – it’s got broccoli, peppers and spinach to keep you full.
A word on meat-free burgers: as a vegan, it is so exciting to see the world open up their minds and their menus to meat-free dining. I love the Impossible Whopper and look forward to trying other new meat-free burgers that have been emerging in the fast food world. It’s important to note that there are endless health and environmental benefits to a meat-free diet, but not all vegan food is healthy. An Impossible Whopper is better for you in the long run than a regular Whopper, but just because the food is free of animal-derived ingredients doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Choose your road trip snacks based on what makes you feel good, energized and nourished.
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