14 Tips to a Successful Vegan Roadtrip (PLUS: Where to Eat on the East Coast!)
If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you might know that my boyfriend, Sam, and I did a 9-day road trip to the East Coast of Canada. We started from Montreal and made our way to Gaspésie, then New Brunswick and finally Nova Scotia.
It was not our first time roadtripping in Canada (we drove all the way to British Columbia a few years ago), but it was our first time doing it as vegans.
We got quite used to living in a city where being a vegan is easy. I mean, you can walk into any grocery store in Montreal and find a wide array of fruits and veggies, different kinds of nuts, seeds and legumes, dozens of vegan dips and even vegan ice cream! Also, almost every single coffee shop now offers non-dairy alternatives so we never feel like being vegans is truly a challenge. However, as we visited www.happycow.com (a website cataloguing vegan and vegetarian restaurants) before our departure to look at which towns in our itinerary would have vegan dishes, we were rather surprised by the limited number options in certain regions – especially Gaspésie and Cape Breton (Nova Scotia).
We therefore decided to bring with us as many snacks as we could to ensure that if we were camping in places where there was not much food, we would always have something we could snack on until the next complete meal.
I think we did very well in terms of planning our food so that’s why I wanted to share with you a couple of tips and tricks to make the most out of your next road trip, especially if you are traveling as a vegan.
I truly hope these 14 tips will help you in planning your next adventure! If they do, I’d love to hear it in the comments below and also, feel free to share any additional roadtripping tips!
MUST BRING SNACKS
Hummus : Perfect with crackers, mini carrots, and in sandwiches, this one was an essential during our roadtrip. Because we did not always have access to a kitchen to cook full meals, hummus really came in handy when we needed a snack that was filling & nutritious.
Crackers : We bought a big box of Mary’s Crackers at Costco and went through the entire thing in 3 days… I love these specific crackers because the ingredient list is so clean : brown rice, quinoa, flax seeds, sesame seeds, water, soy sauce & sea salt. You can have as many as you want and not feel like you are indulging! Crackers + hummus were a literally lifesaver when we had no access to a kitchen.
Apples : Apples are the perfect road trip fruit. They last super long, do not need refrigeration and are very portable (contrary to a banana, which I am always scared to crush when I put it in a bag!). I would recommend buying enough apples to last you through your entire road trip; we snacked on apples every day – after hikes, for breakfast and throughout our commute.
Granola (+ soy milk) : Guys, this is probably the best food I packed on our road trip! If you are planning to camp, are not going to be bringing any cooking gear and don’t want to be rushing out of your campsite hangry in the morning. Granola will be your best friend! I made a big batch of granola since I knew we would be camping 4 nights out of 8 in remote locations where cafés or restaurants would be rather scarce. It was really nice to wake up and know that you don’t have to drive for 1+ hours to eat something. I packed my granola with lots of nuts and seeds (for healthy fats & energy) as well as goji berries (for a little antioxidant boost). We had it along with soy milk rather than almond milk, just to add in as many proteins as we could ;)
Energy balls : Before your departure, simply add dates and your favorite nuts and seeds to a food processor, process and shape into balls. Store in an airtight container and bring along on your adventure. This snack is awesome because it has lots of healthy fats and sugars to give you a nice energy boost throughout the day or after a challenging hike.
Smoked tofu : This one might sound weird, but it was one of the culinary highlight of our roadtrip. Contrary to plain ol’ tofu, smoked tofu is seasoned and has a lovely flavour which makes it delicious on its own. Just cut it up into cubes and enjoy! If you prefer eating it with something, I suggest adding it to a hummus and spinach sandwich, trust me, it’s delish!
Peanut butter: I mean it is a pantry staple and I believe it should be a road trip staple too. We had peanut butter through our entire trip along with bread. Sometimes we did not have access to a toaster so we would just have it as is, but when we did, you can guess that we indulged in some warm toasted peanut butter toasts! (+ pro tip: bring along a small jar of homemade jam and chia seeds to add variety, flavour and nutrition to your toasts).
Cutlery : Bring along a knife, forks and spoons to enjoy all the delicious items you packed.
Containers : We brought along some glass containers and they ended up really coming in handy. We used them as bowls for our granola, to store our energy balls and other snacks.
Thermos : If you cannot start your day without a tea or coffee like me, a thermos is a must when roadtripping. We would fill it up with boiling water at some Airbnbs we stayed at and enjoy a warm cup of coffee the next morning when we were camping. If you won’t be staying at airbnbs or hotels, just walk into any fast food chain, they will happily fill up your thermos with hot water.
Food processor : Yes, Sam totally laughed at me when I said we were bringing one of my favorite kitchen tools, but guess who was happy when we could make some more energy balls halfway through our trip? ;) Since you are in a car, you can really pack any kitchen appliance that you think could make it easier for you to enjoy your favorite foods. Of course, I would not suggest bringing you Vitamix, hand mixer, coffee maker and frother, but if you feel like you will definitely crave smoothies, bring a small blender. If you feel like you will go through your energy balls fast, bring extra nuts and a food processor. We ended up using it only once, but it saved us quite a bit of money in terms of snack purchases.
Do your research in advance : Sam and I looked up a few restaurants and cafés before hitting the road and planned our trip so that we could try some of them out. Of course there were days where we solely relied our snacks, but every second day or so, we would drive by a larger city (in Canadian terms it means a town with 40,000 habitants!) where we treated ourselves to some warm vegan dishes.
Don’t be afraid to ask locals : Sometimes, even Happy Cow did not list spots where we could have vegan food or drinks, so don’t be shy to ask locals if they would know of places that have vegan options. That’s how we found a couple of cafés on our road.
When you find a grocery store with fresh (& roadtrip friendly) produce, stock up: For example, when we drove through New Glasgow in Nova Scotia, there was a huuuge Sobeys so we took advantage of the large selection of reasonably priced foods to stock up on apples, bananas, spinach, tofu and bread.
RESTAURANTS TO TRY ON THE CANADIAN EAST COAST:
Rivière du Loup - La bette à Cath: a vegan bistro that serves salads, sandwiches, wraps, drinks and pastries.
Must try: their cupcakes!
Percé – Restaurant PAQBO: a restaurant inside a hotel near the Rocher Percé that has vegan options.
Must try: their burger – make it vegan by omitting the mayo.
Percé – Boulangerie le Fourmand: a bakery that offers soy milk. They did not have vegan pastries, but had a lovely variety of homemade breads.
Pabos – Maison Pure Thé : a small health food store near Percé that has pretty much all vegan essentials. They also have a lovely collection of teas, essential oils and beauty product.
Chandler – Mich Café: a coffee shop that has non-dairy milk options. Their coffee absolutely delicious (my favorite of the entire trip!) and the owner was super nice to talk to.
Moncton – Calactus : a vegetarian restaurant that serves global inspired dishes. All their dishes can be made vegan (even the pizzas!) and their food is packed with amazing flavours.
Must try: their vegetable pekoras and their indian pizza with herbed tofu cheese.
Moncton – Veggie Vietnam : an Asian restaurant with countless vegan options. They have delicious meat imitation dishes, soups and curries. Their prices are also very fair!
Antigonish – Pachamama : a small vegan café that also serves a daily warm dish and many desserts.
Sackville – The Cackling Goose Market Café & Bakery: a vegan friendly gluten free café and market, which serves many vegan sweet treats like cinnamon buns, pumpkin squares and cupcakes. They also offer salads, soups and grilled cheeses, which can be made vegan upon request.
Saint John – Vegolution: a vegetarian restaurant (with many vegan options) which serves incredibly tasty dishes.
Must try: their warm mushroom and olive appetizer plate, their corn fritters, their veggie donair and their beet cake with ‘’cream cheese” frosting
Saint John – Rogue Café: a super cool coffee shop with many specialty drinks and that offers a few different non-dairy milk alternatives.