Over this past Memorial Day weekend (for my non-U.S. friends, it’s essentially a bank holiday), my husband and I decided to take a mini road trip up to Estes Park, Colorado. Living in the Colorado Springs area, it’s around a 3 hour drive (around 140 miles) to this beautiful city, and for those who are unfamiliar, Estes Park is a tourist town located in the Rocky Mountains of northern Colorado, known as both a summer destination and the home of the Stanley Hotel (the filming location for The Shining). As my husband had visited this place as a child, he knew how awesome it was and knew I would enjoy visiting this little slice of heaven. In addition to sight-seeing, I was looking forward to discovering new vegan eats, but looking for good vegan food on the road isn’t always easy or a positive experience.
As our first vegan destination, we stopped in Boulder at a neat little place called the Organic Sandwich Company. While not all of their food was vegan friendly, they offered vegan options; sold all 100% organic, locally grown food; and were members of Boulder’s PACE (Partners for a Clean Environment) program (You can read more about it here). There were also options for those who follow gluten-free or paleo diets, if that is your fancy. I had their beetnik sandwich, which its website claims is composed of “roasted red and gold beets, house made almond feta, arugula, on a pretzel loaf,” as well as shared a vegan brownie with my husband (Visit their menu here). All in all, I was pretty satisfied. Unfortunately, my dinner experience was not quite as enjoyable.
After spending the day in Estes, we decided to to grab a meal before heading out. Since Estes Park is a mountain town, I assumed there would be a plethora of vegan options, but alas, there were only a handful of restaurants that even carried vegetarian or vegan options. We ended up settling on a Mexican restaurant that had its own vegan and gluten-free menu. Having grown up in southern California, I was pretty stoked to try some vegan Mexican food and was even happier to discover that they offered vegan enchiladas–my favorite. When my plate was placed in front of me, I was a bit disconcerted by the refried beans on it, so I decided to take a peak inside my enchiladas, and sure enough, they contained shredded chicken. In the end, the restaurant brought me the correct food, but I was a bit disappointed that they were not observant enough to realize that they had brought a vegan an entirely non-vegan meal.
While this isn’t exactly a “vegan confession,” as I never even took a bit of the non-vegan food at the Mexican restaurant, I think it’s important to acknowledge that, as hard as we try, vegans can’t be perfect. Even when I have made my meals strictly at home, I have found myself realizing that some odd items contain animal products; for example, many frozen vegetables are cross contaminated with non-vegan friendly foods, like fish! The best approach is to be a vigilant consumer, which can come in the form of checking labels or physically checking what’s in your food before you eat it. Have you had any experiences where you almost ate something non-vegan? I’d love to hear them in the comments below.
The featured photo was taken by Michael Nunes. Find more of his work at unsplash.com.