March 1, 2015
Traveling can be a challenge when you have any dietary restrictions; however, it is definitely possible if you are flexible and content to eat simply. We recently returned from a Mexican vacation at an all-inclusive resort. For most, an all-inclusive holiday involves over indulgence in food and drink.While I still manage to over indulge, at least it was on vegetables.
This is our third winter vacation on a strictly plant based diet. Before that we were vegetarian and did consume a limited amount of dairy, eggs and fish. Each year, eating on vacation becomes easier. I am not sure if that is because we have adapted or if the choices are getting better as more people go plant-based.
Breakfasts – most resorts will have a great selection of fruit at the breakfast buffet (as well as lunch and supper). For something heartier, skip the omelet/egg station and make yourself a sandwich. We had a toasted tomato, lettuce, onion and guacamole sandwich or a peanut butter sandwich most mornings. And most buffets offer some sort of potatoes at breakfast and often cooked vegetables and beans as well. No veggies around – ask the omelet station to stir fry you the veggies without the eggs. Another good breakfast is a bowl of fixings from the cereal bar – coconut, nuts and granola. One morning I added a large spoonful of peanut butter to my bowl and made my own energy ball.
The Royal Decameron in Bucerias, Mexico, even featured a smoothie bar where you could have fresh fruit and veggie smoothie blended for you. The choice of greens was limited to cactus and celery but generally we could find romaine lettuce at the buffet to add as well. While most resorts will not have a smoothie bar, often there is a bar with a blender inside the buffet. For a small tip, they will often make you a smoothie from salad bar ingredients. When we found fresh spinach at the salad bar at lunch, we were able to get them to make up a pineapple, spinach smoothie for us.
Lunch – make yourself a tomato or cucumber sandwich using avocado (guacamole) instead of butter or mayo. Check the buffet offerings – we lived on beans and rice but sometimes found a lentil or chickpea stew. Ken often consumed a huge plate of taco chips, salsa and guacamole for lunch while I could never resist their various potato dishes. The salad bar always has a great variety of fresh produce you can top with an oil and vinegar dressing. Avoid the prepared salads as they often contain cheese, egg or meat additions. Beets and fried eggplant were a salad bar favorite of mine.
Dinner – The buffet will offer over a dozen dishes, and generally you can find one or two that are plant-based. However, it is often difficult to confirm if a dish contains any meat, eggs or cheese other than visual inspection. You can ask, but the servers don’t know every ingredient used. We were pretty excited to find potato tacos, something we had not heard of before. We later discovered they contain cheese. (We had a potato stuffed poblano pepper; however, it did contain cheese. I am planning on figuring out how to make that dish vegan as it was delicious.) Many of the a la carte restaurants do not have anything on the menu that is totally plant-based; however, they are generally very accommodating and will usually leave the meat out of a dish or make you a meal from side dishes. At the Thai restaurant they made us a delicious Pad Thai without the meat and with extra veggies and peanuts. The Italian offered spaghetti with a delicious basic tomato sauce.
Going off the resort? – Ask around or google to find vegetarian restaurants. Our tour guide in Puerta Vallerta suggested a tiny, out-of-the-way vegetarian restaurant – Planeta Vegetariano (near the Guadalupe church) which offered a vegetarian buffet. Only two of the dishes containing dairy and none contained eggs. We also found a grocery store that sold almond milk. We bought a carton and the smoothie bar made us up almond milk smoothies. For a small tip, the staff were happy to keep the carton refrigerated for us until the next day so we didn’t have to consume it in one sitting. The best deal we found was at the local market – fresh orange juice. While I have learned the hard way to steer clear of street food (the source of most of my vacation woes), I will make an exception for fresh fruit/veggie juice. We watched the girl press the juice from at least a dozen oranges to make a litre of juice for us.