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Vegan at Farmer Boys

In past years, Eric and I often stopped at Farmer Boys for breakfast before the Renaissance Faire.  Even though we don’t participate much anymore, when I read that their veggie burger was vegan, I made a mental note in case we were ever in the area.  On our way back from an event way out in Riverside recently, we stopped at Farmer Boys in Irwindale.  According to the Insufferable Vegan page, there are actually two vegan options at Farmer Boys, which is pretty remarkable for a fast food place.  You can either get the veggie burger with no dressing or the veggie sandwich with no cheese and on either rye or sourdough bread since the wheat bread has honey.

Farmer Boys Veggie Burger | A Vegan in Progress

I ordered the veggie burger sans dressing.  The patty was remarkably similar to the Don Lee Farms frozen veggie burger patty.  It was one of those veggie burger patties that didn’t seem all microwaved and dry.  There were distinct veggies in it as well as some sunflower seeds.

Farmer Boys Veggie Burger | A Vegan in Progress

It also came with lettuce, tomato, onions, and pickles (I removed those) and I added some ketchup.  It was really filling and pretty moist.  I would actually order this again without feeling like I was making a huge compromise, but I would likely ask for avocado to be added (FYI: Insufferable Vegan says that costs an extra $1.50).  Overall – Not bad!  I applaud the chain for offering two different vegan options.

Vegan Camping – Table Mountain Campground

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As I mentioned before, two of our closest friends are likely to move out of the state this year, so we have lately been making an effort to appreciate and explore LA and the surrounding areas.  Previously, we went on a day trip to Solvang, where I had a surprisingly nice vegan meal at Bit O’Denmark.  This time we planned a camping trip.  We all agreed on woodsy camping and eventually Eric found Table Mountain Campground in Wrightwood, about two hours from our home.  We estimated that the tent, sleeping bags, two coolers, four chairs, personal bags, and other supplies would not all fit in the trunk of a regular car, so we rented a Dodge Ram 1500 Crew Cab extended bed.  This turned out to be a great decision because the truck gave us plenty of room for all of our luggage, but was also super comfortable for the ride to and from the campground.

I put a lot of thought into food that would be easy, filling, and easily made vegan for me.  Before the trip, we bought a Coleman Matchlight 2-Burner Propane Stove.  I thought that this would be really useful because, although each campsite has a grill, the stove allowed us to cook two things at once and allowed us to cook something warm for lunch without setting up the charcoal grill again.

We chose campsite #103, in the Zuni loop.  It had lots of shade and a great view and was spaced pretty far away from the other campsites, giving us privacy.  The only downside was that the bathroom was literally a short hike away.  The hill we had to hike up to get to the bathroom, combined with the 7,500 foot elevation left us huffing and puffing every time we had to make the climb.  Something worth knowing about Table Mountain is that you can reserve a campsite, but once you are there, you can change to any other unreserved site, so if you find one with a better view, you are free to move.  Some sites are first come, first served, so this is a good way to get them.  Overnight camping on a single site is $20 per night.

We left early on Friday afternoon and made it to the site with enough time to set up before making dinner. I knew that we would want something quick and easy for dinner after the drive and all the setting up, so I planned on burgers for everyone and Don Lee Farms Veggie Patties for me.  We cut up tomatoes and onions at home and totally forgot to get them out of the cooler Friday night, so our burgers were pretty plain.  I also cubed up a package of Trader Joe’s Organic Baked Tofu, Teriyaki Flavor, before we left.  I wrapped the cubes in tinfoil and cooked it on the grill.  It was actually a really tasty addition to my veggie burger, all on its own.

The next morning, I woke up really early (to use the restroom) and got a chance to see the sunrise.  I decided to set up the propane stove and make some tea.  I was so glad that we brought the tea kettle, because this was a nice treat.  I then set up breakfast for everyone… we had cereal with soy milk as well as bagels and fruit.  After a simple breakfast, we were ready for the day.

The great thing about camping in the forest is the hiking.  During our two off-trail hiking adventures, we came across beautiful views, steep hills, fallen trees, and fleeting glimpses of deer running deeper in the forest.

Vegan Camping | A Vegan in Progress

Hiking, day one

Vegan Camping | A Vegan in Progress

Hiking, day two

After our hike on day two, we were pretty hungry, so we headed back for hot dogs.  They had kosher dogs and I ate Lightlife Smart Dogs.

They taste exactly how I remember cheap hot dogs tasting.  It was nice to have something quick and easy to grill.  I put spicy mustard and chopped tomatoes on them.

Lightlife Hot Dogs - Vegan Camping | A Vegan in Progress

That night, while they had grilled pollo asada, I had an awesome foil pack meal, grilled corn, and grilled veggies.  Prior to the trip, I had done a lot of searching online for recipe ideas and really liked the idea of foil pack meals.  I adapted this BBQ Party Pack recipe from Vegan Yack Attack.

I just made a few changes, though.  Instead of chopped onion, I threw in some Pearl Onions from a frozen bag that I bought at Trader Joe’s.  I decided to double the spices in the recipe.  I also took Yack Attack’s suggestion and added chickpeas.  I also steamed some tempeh, to get the bitterness out, then cubed it and left it in a container of the following marinade, then spooned out the tempeh pieces and added them to the foil pack right before grilling it.

Tempeh Marinade:

  • 1/4 cup liquid smoke
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 garlic cloves

I was really looking forward to this meal and for good reason, because it turned out delicious.  The bell peppers and the tempeh were the best part.  The only bad thing was that I should have chopped the carrots MUCH smaller because they took so long to cook.  They never softened much and I ended up eating around them, mostly.  The foil pack was simple and a very clever way to have a whole meal without a pot, also effectively keeping my food separate from the meat on the grill.

We all ended up with plenty of food.  Get a load of my full plate!

Vegan Camping | A Vegan in Progress

Dinner, night two

A while after dinner we made s’mores (I used vegan ingredients).

We all got ready for bed and a movie.  We brought a small camping table into the tent, set it up at our feet, and watched The Cabin in the Woods on my laptop.  I thought it would be cute and clever to watch a scary movie set in the woods while we were camping in the woods, but it just made it harder to hike up to the bathroom that night!

The next morning, we expected to have chocolate chip pancakes, but the propane stove heated up so hot that the outside of the pancakes were burning before the inside had cooked.  We abandoned that idea, just packed up early, and stopped for breakfast on our way home.

The lesson for me was that vegan camping is actually quite easy.  Foods that are commonly eaten while camping are easily veganized.

I hope this post helps others plan for a dual dining camping trip!

Vegan Camping | A Vegan in Progress

A few tips for future campers:

  • Definitely bring a tablecloth for your picnic table.  I bought tablecloth fabric from a Joann’s near me that is relocating and liquidating all of their material.
  • Go to a Dollar Tree or 99 cent store for the majority of your supplies.  We found big plastic clips there that held the tablecloth down and attached the trash bag to the side of the table.
  • Bring lots of water.  For the four of us, for essentially two full days, we drank 6 gallons of water.
  • Fill large tupperware bins 1/4 full and freeze in advance of the trip.  Run warm water over the outside of the tupperware containers to release the ice blocks.  They have less surface area than ice cubes and melt slower.  Ours lasted us the whole weekend.
  • Freeze all of your food that can handle it… it will work as ice packs as well.
  • Bring reusable water bottles to drink from since you can also use them on hikes.
  • Bring walkie-talkies for the hike to the bathroom at night – cell phones don’t always work in the forest!

Vegan at Coral Tree Cafe, Encino

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Eric and I love this cafe in Encino.  We have been several times before, although I believe this was the first time we had been since I became vegan.  It’s a popular weekend spot with both indoor and outdoor seating.  One particular morning we saw Wilmer Valderrama and dined next to and chatted with Dave Grohl and his family.

Their regular menu is clearly marked for vegetarian options and they also have a small, separate menu of their vegan options.

Vegan menu - Coral Tree Cafe | A Vegan in Progress

Vegan menu

Eric and I sat outside because it was a beautiful day.

I had their fresh mint tea and their vegan veggie burger on a ciabatta roll.  From what I could see in the patty, it had rice, peas, corn, black beans, peppers, and possibly sweet potatoes.  It was really tasty, but not very warm.  Overall, it was a very satisfying meal.

Veggie burger - Coral Tree Cafe | A Vegan in Progress

veggie burger - Coral Tree Cafe | A Vegan in Progress

I really like the options at this cafe and the ambiance is just as good.  Next time, I plan to try the panini!

Vegan at The Habit

It’s really tough to know about the ingredients in veggie burgers offered at a variety of restaurants, so I know that contacting the corporation for a list is the best method to be sure.  There’s a Habit restaurant a couple of blocks from us, so I inquired about the contents of their veggie burger, to see if it was an option.  I know that a lot of vegans would not be comfortable dining in such a restaurant, regardless of if they offered a vegan burger, and I completely understand that.  However, I have a carnist husband and I would like to be able to dine with him most of the time, rather than having to tell him to go by himself whenever he wants a burger.

Vegan at the Habit | A Vegan in Progress

Pete Whitwell, of the Habit, responded:

“Sorry to disappoint but our Veggie isn’t Vegan.  Unfortunately we aren’t the best choice for a Vegan diet.”

After such a great response from Red Robin’s representative, I expected more.  Not only was I disappointed in the answer, I was miffed by his complete lack of concern for losing an entire group of potential customers.

Furthermore, it really irritates me to see chain restaurants offer a veggie burger, but not a vegan one.  They have an opportunity to cater to two groups (with one menu item) rather than just one group if they paid a little attention to the ingredients.  They already went to the effort of including vegetarians, so why not make a few small changes to include vegans?

After looking over their menu, I found that they offer a garden salad with “fresh romaine, iceberg and red leaf lettuces, Roma tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, carrots, sprouts and croutons,” as well as a side salad, including “fresh romaine, iceberg, and red leaf lettuces, Roma tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, and croutons.”  French fries and sweet potato fries are also animal product free, however, I don’t know about the frying oil.  My guess is it isn’t safe.

Bottom line – despite their salads, I will not be dining at the Habit.