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Surviving our First Vegan Vacation with a Toddler
Barely a month into starting our vegan diets, we went on a trip to visit my Dad and Stepmom in Florida. Florida is known for fish, bbq, and homestyle cooking. I made sure to call my Dad ahead of time and let him know that we were no longer eating meat, eggs, and dairy. Here is my simple Vegan Vacation Food Guide!
Setting the expectation ahead of time made sure that he didn’t plan any specific meals or dining out plans. He mentioned a few places that he thought we could eat at, so I spent time looking at menus online. My Dad even surprised us by picking up a few vegan items like frozen pad thai noodles, ground veggie “meat”, and veggie sausage! I found a Trader Joe’s near the airport so we could easily stock up on some of our essentials.
I listed a few of our easiest, go-to vegan meals and a grocery list. This was I was prepared and wouldn’t waste unnecessary time or money at the store when we arrived. Since our flight was arriving late at night, I packed some oatmeal packets that we could eat for breakfast before heading to the store.
I also made sure our carry-on was stocked full of snacks, especially for my daughter. This is especially important in case you end up having your flight delayed. I’d rather have too much food than be hungry and unable to find vegan items.
Vegan Vacation Food Guide
Carry-On Travel Snacks
I packed the following snacks for our trip:
- Mamma Chia Pouches (These are great for toddlers! They contain protein, fiber, and omega-3s! I even stirred a pouch into our unsweetened oatmeal packet for a simple breakfast at our destination)
- Fig Bars, Larabars, any vegan bars
- Raw Cashews and other nuts (I used our GoStak Container to carry nuts & nutritional yeast to use at our destination!)
- Goji Berries and Dried Apricots
- Nutritional Yeast (so I wouldn’t have to buy a whole bag there)
- Unsweetened Oatmeal Packets (Trader Joe’s has some great one’s that have whole grain oats, quinoa, amaranth, flax seeds, and chia seeds!)
- Uncrustables (Toss them in your bag still frozen to last all day! I made the mistake of expecting to easily find PB&Js at the airport, but that was not the case in San Diego, CA!)
I also grabbed a few things at the airport terminal, but don’t rely solely on this! I had planned ahead and browsed menus at the airport, but found that the menus online differed and I couldn’t even find a peanut butter and jelly sandwich there for my daughter!
- Fruit cups
- Hummus cups/trays
- Certain chips we have started to rely on in a pinch: Fritos Original Corn Chips
- I found a few vegan protein bars
Here are few items I spotted at the Tampa Airport before departing:
My Simple Travel Meals
We had an advantage that we were staying somewhere with a kitchen. I planned meals around items that I knew Trader Joe’s had and didn’t require a ton of ingredients or cookware.
Here are the meals that I planned for us to eat:
- Pasta & Marinara with broccoli
- Lentil Tacos
- Tofu Scramble with bell peppers & mushrooms
- Garbanzo & Avocado Sandwiches
- Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches
- Brown Rice with Cauliflower Tempera
- Avocado Toast
Snacks: Hummus, baby carrots, cucumber, pears, applesauce pouches, chips & salsa.
I was looking forward to eating out and trying a few new restaurants! If you are ever in the Tampa Bay area, you might enjoy these as well.
BurgerFi carries the Beyond Burger Vegan Patty, you just need to modify it to ensure it is completely vegan! I checked their Nutrition Facts and Allergen Guide online ahead of time. Their Multigrain Bun is vegan and they have a variety of fresh toppings to choose from. Ketchup and mustard are easy condiments to ensure there is no dairy or egg.
We boated to Slyce Pizza in Indian Rocks Shores. I called ahead to see if their pizza crust was free of dairy or egg – which it was! They loaded our pizza with veggies and loved it!
The Columbia in Ybor City
I’m so glad we were able to find a few vegan options at The Columbia! Opening in 1905, it Florida’s Oldest Restaurant. The inside is expansive and features 12 dining rooms with tons of rich history. They label vegetarian items on the menu and after confirming that there was no dairy or eggs in certain items, we ordered the following:
- Black Bean Soup (Served with Rice)
- Gazpacho – This was my toddler’s favorite! Cold soup is the way to go on a hot Florida Day!
- Vegetable Paella – This dish was amazing and loaded with tons of delicious vegetables.
I wish I would have snapped a picture of our delicious food, but I forgot!
P.F. Chang’s at Tampa International Airport
We wanted to make sure we ate a healthy meal before heading home to California. I found a helpful article about new vegan selections available at the Tampa Airport (this was helpful, since the San Diego Airport was a bit disappointing!)
The Buddha’s Feast served steamed with brown rice was just what we needed to load up on some veggies. I packed up tons of snack food and Uncrustables for the flight home, so we really needed the nutrients from some broccoli, asparagus, tofu, and mushrooms!
After driving home from the San Diego Airport in almost two hours of traffic, we needed a quick win for dinner. I ordered us two vegan pizzas for pickup from Pieology near our house. Their gluten-free crust is their only vegan crust option (for an extra $2.50 upcharge – lame!), but they offer 3 new plant-based proteins (also an upcharge, but c’est la vie). Load up on the veggies and marinara sauce for a hearty meal. They also offer vegan shredded cheese, but we think it has a weird texture so we skip it!
How our Vegan Vacation was Different
My husband and I have gone on many vacations and NEVER come back without gaining weight. I mean significant weight gain… we usually enjoy adult beverages (calorie dense beer) and eat whatever we please. This was the FIRST trip we have ever taken where we didn’t gain a single pound.
I drank beer almost everyday, ate pizza and pasta, even had some treats (vegan lavender donut… drool) and still weighed EXACTLY what I weighed when I left.
We had the chance to introduce my family to some new plant-based meals and share some of what we have learned on this journey. I’ve never felt more confident in our decision to follow a vegan lifestyle and I’m so glad that I am able to share our experiences with others.
I hope you enjoyed my Vegan Vacation Food Guide!