Posted by: Antonia Ciccolo | January 11, 2011

Philadelphia Road Trippin’

For New Year’s weekend, I decided to make a road trip to Philadelphia – the city that I was consulting in when I started my vegan endeavor. I had three very interesting food experiences from this trip at Monk’s Café, Govinda’s Vegetarian, and Subway.

We stumbled upon Monk’s Café on a walk towards Rittenhouse Square looking for a vegan-friendly lunch spot. I had been to Monk’s Café before I became vegan and I remembered noticing some great vegan options on the menu. I asked the server what he would recommend: the Vegan Burger or the Vegan Seitan “Meat Loaf.” I took his recommendation and ordered the burger. When the plate came out, I noticed some mayonnaise on the burger bun and in a little side cup on the plate. It had to have been a vegan mayonnaise, right? I decided to double check with the server and his response was, “No, that isn’t vegan. You never told me you were vegan.” WHAT?! When I order a dish that is titled “Vegan Burger” I have to tell the server to prepare it vegan? When I ask the server to make a recommendation between two vegan entrees, he didn’t assume that I’m vegan? I was shocked. Note to all of you vegans out there: even when you order a vegan dish at a non-vegan restaurant, make sure to let the server know that you would actually like it prepared without any animal products. Ridiculous.

My second food experience, at Govinda’s Vegetarian on South Street, was the polar opposite. I stumbled upon this restaurant for brunch on New Year’s Day and it was fabulous. I couldn’t decide between the Philly Chicken Cheese Steak and the Zucchini Melt. I went with the Zucchini Melt but felt bad about my decision (since I was in Philadelphia and where else can you get a vegan Philly Chicken Cheese Steak??) but when I tried the Zucchini Melt I was in heaven. They also had an assortment of vegan cookies and cakes to go, but I had to say no. I mean, it was only New Year’s Day and I had to stick by my New Year’s resolution of giving up vegan junk food. I definitely recommend this place.

On my drive back to Boston, I decided to stop at a Subway for lunch. Fast-food restaurants are terrible when it comes to vegan or vegetarian options. I originally asked about the Vegetable Pattie but the server said it had egg. I decided to get all veggies on the wheat bread: lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers pickles, and olives. The server kept saying, “Wait, that’s it?” And I would say, “Yes – it’s a pretty big sandwich!” “You really don’t want any meat or cheese?” “No, thank you.” Then as I was paying for the meal he goes, “Are you vegetarian or something?” I smiled. I’d be lying if I said that ordering a meal as a vegan was seamless. This one was one of the more awkward times.

After not traveling quite as much, at least not every week, I have come to realize that traveling as a vegan is actually much harder than preparing meals at home. It’s not always about the lack of food options; it’s sometimes more about the people in the way. Luckily, I don’t have as many trips planned for January and February.

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