This post is very aptly named as I am currently writing from an express train to central London (thanks to the wonder that is on-board wifi). Since I left you last, I’ve managed to pack away my life into boxes, (which are now hopefully en route to Bahrain), bid my friends a temporary farewell until graduation, move out of my apartment and spend some time traipsing around London in the interim – all of which has been a combination of stressful, hectic, melancholic, but also fun.
While I do have plans to hit up some fabulous vegan eateries and possibly a vegan bakery or two ( Ms. Cupcake , I’m coming for you), as of so far my London dining adventures have been all about flexibility and adjustment- something any experienced vegan will know all about.
Travelling and dining at unfamiliar or not-so-veggie-friendly restaurants can seem daunting, but with an open mind and a little preparation, maintaining a (healthy) vegan diet on-the-go is extremely doable.
My top tip: load up on portable and nutritious snacks options. Before I moved out I made up a giant batch of trail mix which not only helped use up leftover nuts and seeds but has saved me from being completely ravenous when mealtimes go awry.
A combination of dried figs, raisins, cashews, almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds plus some dark chocolate and coconut chips thrown in for good measure and seasoned with a hefty pinch of cinnamon and sea salt.
Fresh fruit is another go-to. Apples or clementines are both winners in my book in terms of portability, but I couldn’t resist grabbing this fruit salad to munch on whilst on the train en route to London.
I also picked up a bag of baby carrots and some mini hummus pots which were a lifesaver on this particular day. Would I have loved a leafy green salad avec chickpeas and veggies instead? Sure – but being flexible means accepting that not every meal will be as exciting or tasty as I’d like and I’m fine with that. As long as I can find something healthy, easy and filling to eat, I’m happy.
Later that night, I dined at Mango Room in Camden, a shabby-chic eatery serving contemporary Caribbean cuisine.
Anyone who knows Caribbean food will know that it doesn’t typically involve many meat-free options (beans and rice aside). We also had to order from a set menu which meant vegan options were even more limited than usual. Nevertheless I spoke to our server explaining my dietary needs and she was more than accommodating, even offering me a couple of items from the normal menu that could be made vegan. I settled on a tasty mocktail of orange, cranberry, lime & blackcurrant topped with ginger ale, followed by starter of avocado salad, and a main of (veganised) coconut risotto with baby spinach, fried plaintain and crispy leeks.
The plain salad left something to be desired, but the main was great. The real shining star however was the side of black eyed beans and rice that were served along with fried plantain to share by the table which delicious.
Speaking to a server amongst a big group can sometimes leave people feeling awkward and out of place, but if it allows you to enjoy your meal a piece of mind, it shouldn’t. Rest assured that any restaurant worth its while will pride itself in catering to every customer’s dietary requirements, and that your fellow diners would like for you to be as comfortable as they would be. There’s no shame in making sure your needs as a vegan are adequately met, especially when you’re a paying customer.
But what’s one to do when there’s hardly a viable vegan option on the menu? This is where inventive ordering comes into play. For example when I found myself at a Carluccio’s , I was initially stumped at a menu full of egg-pasta, cheese and meat heavy dishes – but a quick survey of a carne dish revealed that it came with a side of Italian lentils.
With that in mind I ordered a chicken salad with toasted hazelnuts, and prunes in a balsamic dressing, subbing the chicken for a bowl of lentils. My dad and I split a bruschetta, and ended our meal with twin bowls of dairy free sorbet. Again, our server was wonderfully accommodating and even brought over the ingredients list for the sorbet to confirm it was vegan friendly.
When it comes to eating on-the-go, it’s fairly easy to scrounge up healthy lunch, dinner or even snacks. Breakfast on the other hand, can be tricky, and requires a little bit of pre-thought, which is why I made sure to pack some essentials:
Mini sachets of porridge, chia + flax seeds and a banana made for a just-as-good-as-homemade hotel breakfast along with a banana and topped with trail mix.
Although I’d love nothing more than to vegan venture all across London, I know now that even if I don’t I’ll be just fine. In some ways I prefer being flexible as it shows the people around me that “vegan” doesn’t have to be synonymous with “sacrifice” or “difficult”.
Have a great week all!