Saturday, July 26, 2008

Stuck in Small Town America as a Vegan

For those of you who know me you probably know I try to eat as healthy as possible. I'm a stickler to organic produce and whole grains. I avoid trans-fat, high fructose corn syrup, preservatives, and all of that junk.

I'm in the process of moving to Canada. Well, I ended up not eating as healthy during my trip from Seattle to Pennsylvania.

My wife and I broke down on the Indiana toll road. The car randomly overheated so we pulled over. It was probably in the high 80s or 90 and really humid. We had our dog and two cats in the back seat. It was very scary because they started overheating. Luckily, the tow truck arrived not too much later.

We were towed to Michigan City, Indiana on Sunday, where we stayed until Thursday waiting for the car to be fixed. It took so long because we drive a Volkswagen diesel and had to have parts shipped in.

Anyway, if you've never been there, I highly recommend never going to Michigan City. It's very vegan-unfriendly. It mostly consists of a huge highway and big box stores. When walking to get food I had to walk on the shoulder and sometimes on the highway.

Nonetheless, we made it as vegans. My goal is for vegans in similar situations to use this a guide to surviving in vegan-unfriendly America.

Papa John's

A Papa John's pizza, without cheese of course, is vegan! Check out the Papa John's FAQ to see for yourself. Also, Papa John's now offers whole wheat pizza. No, it wasn't the best pizza ever but my wife and I were excited to have someone deliver something vegan to us the first night we were in Michigan City.

Note: avoid the dipping sauces. One isn't vegan and one has hydrogenated oil.


Subway's Italian bread is vegan. The wheat bread contains honey, which is extremely lame. Check out the Subway FAQ.

I'm well aware none of the vegetables were organic, but at least that was another easy vegan meal when stranded in the middle of nowhere.

So, in a pinch, a Subway veggie sub on Italian (hold the cheese) is vegan.


I'd never heard of Meijer before walking by one in Michigan City. Meijer is a huge everything store. Think Wal-Mart, but less evil.

Anyway, Meijer had a huge produce department and, surprisingly, a decent selection of organic fruit and veggies. My wife and I bought a bunch of organic veggies and had a huge, healthy salad one night. We were craving real food.

In summary

In summary, those three places are your friends if you're ever stuck in Michigan City, Indiana. Learn to appreciate them for the time being because those are really your only options.

We're excited to finally be in Pennsylvania. I'm relaxing in the mountains as I write this post.

I'm glad to be back on the East Coast!


VeggieGirl said...

Great eating-on-the-road tips!! Hope your move is 100% successful and stress-free :0)

Happy Herbivore! said...

Ruby Tuesdays makes a great vegan burger... and this list helps!

VeganCowGirl said...

Billy! So happy to hear that you two are moving to Canada! I am a bit on the biased side when I say that you will find vegan/ethical-living a bit easier (sorry...that might ruffle some feathers) than in the United States.

I wish you the best of luck! Let me know if I can be of any help!

Billy said...

It's actually going to be a lot more difficult for us on Prince Edward Island. It's an extremely rural area. And, we're moving from the most vegan-friendly city in the world.

We're ready, though. I'm looking forward to living in a more rural area. I'm done with cities for a while.

selina said...

wow. i can't believe you've never heard of meijer.

i live about 1 hour east of michigan city. its just as un-vegan friendly here but i manage. i'm actually somewhere between the Mishawaka & Elkhart IN toll road exits.

hope your move goes smoothly from here on out.

Veggie said...

I've had the air conditioning stop working while travelling with my cats, it's pretty scary when they start panting.

I can't wait to hear what life is like on PEI!

Lori- the Pleasantly Plump Vegan said...

bummer about yr car. glad you made it through

VeganLinda said...

I'm glad you survived Indiana! I used to live in NW Indiana, Indianapolis, and Bloomington, IN...the entire state is not the most vegan friendly place in the world. Glad to hear you are safe again on the east coast. If you ever find yourself (heaven forbid!) stuck in the Midwest again, we are in Illinois and happy to make a vegan meal and have extra beds.

Elaine Vigneault said...

FYI, for vegan traveling, here are some resources:

On my last roadtrip I posted my route on a vegan forum ( )and asked for recommendations. Other vegans chimed in and recommended some great restaurants along the way.

Rural Vegan said...

I'm sorry to giggle at your misfortune, but ALL of Indiana is like that! Hope your car is behaving itself and that you're well on your way. Safe travels!

Cravin' Veggies said...

PEI.... oh, I'd love to go there again. It was one of my most favorite vacation spots...

Maria Purviance said...

why in the world would you move to PEI?

Adam Kochanowicz said...

This is great advice. I just had someone tell me that they wouldn't go vegan because they lived in Decatur (knowing that I had been staying there for 2 weeks absolutely fine on a vegan diet)

I think even if you're in the congo or something, you'll find a marketplace with fresh veggies and exotic healthy foods. Even the crappiest of markets have something.

It is my theory that one can be vegan anywhere!

Bird* said...

lol! lol! i just wrote a post about small-town america not having veg-friendly restaurants! it's tough....

AND i'm from Fort Wayne, IN... and familiar with Michigan City.... oh my......... i'm sorry you had to experience that.

one time my car broke down in Valparaiso which is near Michigan City. I got stuck at Bob's Car Garage full of greasy mechanics. I was with my dog, it was late at night, and I was scared...........

Project Video AM said...

A little late, I came across this on a search. If ever you find yourself in Michigan City, IN again, closer to the beach is best. Sarhara Mediteranian Restaurant and Bridges Cafe have some options that may work. A health food store called Natures Cupboard has some good organic produce (tuesday delivery) and selections.

Tracy Jablonski said...

I live in Michigan City and totally agree. Still not many Vegan options here.