I told you guys that I was facing a pretty tough challenge – a three day convention that I had to attend for work. I knew I couldn’t keep a day by day blog of everything I ate, so my plan was to compile it all into a bumper travelling edition, which I hoped would contain some tips for anyone who needs to travel during The 22-Day Revolution.
(Pst – if you want to know what I’m up to, head to day zero by clicking here to find out all about my 22-day vegan challenge! Plus, click here to be taken to the Amazon page to purchase your own copy, through my affiliate link: The 22-Day Revolution: The plant-based programme that will transform your body, reset your habits, and change your life.)
Unfortunately, my plans went completely wrong, when halfway through I came down with a mystery illness and had to come home early. With circumstances out of my control, and with other people in charge of looking after me (thanks mum!) I had to come off my diet for a couple of days. However, I wanted to post my thoughts about dieting away from home anyway, because I at least did the planning part – and half of the execution!
When organising for this trip, I decided the best thing I could do for my own sanity was to remind myself of the most important aspect of the diet – to eat a moderate amount of healthy, plant-based foods. When you boil it down, that’s the mantra to keep close to your heart. Forget labels like vegan and gluten free, and just try to remember the part about plants! When you focus your attention to a simple and easy to remember point, it makes decisions less stressful and complicated. (Of course, you might also just want a decent snack – in which case, it’s good to be reminded that popcorn is a pretty amazing gluten-free, vegan snack: Proper Corn is a case in point!)
Another thing I decided to do was plan ahead as much as possible and have strategies for each meal. Breakfast and lunch on the first day was easy – I stopped by Pret a Manger in Waterloo and picked those meals up there. On Pret’s site you can filter searches to include just vegan meals, and so I had a delicious mezze platter – which, incidentally, I’d eaten before and very much enjoyed.
For my remaining two lunches, I packed Nakd bars – I love these and have eaten them for lunches or breakfasts on the go for a long time. Imagine how happy I was when I realised they were both gluten-free and vegan! They adhere very much to the plant-based ethos of the plan, as they contain nothing except raw dried fruits and nuts. I decided to try some new flavours I hadn’t had before (usually I’m a Banana Bread or Cashew Cookie girl), so I packed Cherry Bakewell and Rhubarb and Custard flavours. The Cherry Bakewells were delicious – I never got a chance to try the Rhubarb and Custard, though! (And the Toffee Treat was awesome!)
Dinner time was easy, at least in theory. In the local area are two restaurants we usually go to during the event – one is a Chinese place, and the other is Indian. I decided to just go ahead and ask them if they could prepare anything vegan and gluten-free for me. I never made it to the Chinese place, but ordering stir fried veggies is simple enough (steer clear of oyster sauce, natch!), but I did have a pretty hilarious conversation at the Indian place where they thought I was demanding bacon (I had to write VEGAN down on a receipt). Eventually the waiter understood the ‘no dairy’ part, but completely ignored the ‘no meat’ bit, and told me that lamb rogan josh was fine, but not to eat the chicken tikka masala. Well, luckily there was a buffet on, so I stuck to chana masala (curried chickpeas) and Bombay aloo (curried potatoes), along with plain steamed rice. I actually think that eating in Chinese and Indian places might be marginally easier than eating at a standard British place, because there are very few naturally vegan dishes in our traditional cuisine. (Oh, another note – make sure to check if you’re eating Indian food that it’s cooked in oil and not ghee!)
So, that just left me with the buffet breakfast for two mornings. There was no real way to prepare in advance for this except to hope that if the worst came to the worst, I’d be able to eat fruit. In the end, I only had one, miserable breakfast, which is when it was dawning on me that I was really far too ill to be there any more. The buffet was great, though – there was soy milk, dried and fresh fruit, plus cereals and a traditional English breakfast buffet. From the buffet, I was able to choose from vegetarian sausages, baked beans (Heinz are gluten-free!), hash browns (always check to see if they are gluten-free as they can contain additives), plus tomatoes and mushrooms. Not bad!
I can’t say I’m back on the mend today, but I am back on my diet now I’m at home and under my own care. Starting again with day 18 I’m going to work my way through to day 22 – although I’d imagine this illness has somewhat messed up my weight loss. That’s what having a loving and concerned mother taking charge of you for the weekend does!