Saturday, November 21, 2009
I just got down to West Palm Beach a couple of days ago. Since becoming a raw vegan 4 or 5 months ago, I've experienced looming dread about my impending holiday travel. In NYC it's rather easy to stay the raw course - one, because i'm in my everyday routine of cooking, and two, because there are a handful of raw food restaurants/juicebars/health food stores to support me on this journey. Middle America....well, I feel for you. It is truly much more challenging to remain a raw vegan in the land of Applebee's and Chilli's.
I knew that once I got down to West Palm I was going to have to go out to restaurants with family and friends. With some creativity I have been able to stay 90% raw at each of my restaurant dining experiences (without resorting to a "chef's salad").
Japanese Cuisine -
Nearly every city in the US has a Japanese restaurant nowdays. True, most guests are eating spicy tuna rolls with the mysterious "crunch" topping. But, it is also quite easy to order two dishes that will accomodate a raw lifestyle:
1) A "naruto" roll. "Naruto" simply means "without rice." If you ask the sushi chef to prepare you a naruto roll, he will thinly slice a cucumber and use it in place of the nori and rice to wrap up vegetables with. I generally ask for carrots and avocado rolled up. (note: this picture was pulled from Google images and obviously has some tuna in it).
2) Seaweed salad. This salad is almost like pomme frites at a French bistro. In Japan nearly all sushi comes with a side of seaweed salad tossed with sesame oil, sesame seeds, a scant toss of chilis, and some lemon juice. It's incredibly delicious and easy to come by.
In many parts of the country (Florida certainly), Latin or "mexican" food is very easy to come by. Although it might initially appear to be a vegan's worst nightmare, one of my favorite foods is cherished by nearly all Latin American cultures - avocadoes!!!! I generally ask for the freshest guacamole and eat it plain, or with corn chips (not raw, obviously). I've even been known to make a burrito with just guacamole. There's one restaurant in West Palm that I can't wait to check out called Roccos Tacos where they make the guacamole tableside with a mortar and pestle. Several of my favorite restaurants in NYC do the same and it's delicious.
In sum, don't be afriad to go out to conventional restaurants with family and friends. Just be creative with the menu and don't hesitate to ask for substitutions.