Guide to the best meat-free foodie road trip

By Chloe Nott

Travelling anywhere, whether it’s for a weekend adventure or exploring the country, food is involved. And if you’re anything like me, it’s pretty common for an entire trip to revolve around trying new food.

However, as a vegetarian finding tasty food on a budget can sometimes be rather difficult. As someone who has traveled quite extensively both in Australia and the United States, I have learned how to not just survive but fuel my body with some amazing food to keep me energized for my adventures.

Discovering cute vegan cafes and cheap eats in large cities has become easier with plant-based diets growing in popularity. But there are several places I have found on my travels between the Midwest and East Coast that I highly recommend visiting.

Kansas City, MO

KC is one of my favorite cities. The arts and sports scene is great, and there is plenty to explore for a weekend away. From the magnificent Union Station to the free downtown street car, getting around Kansas City is quick and simple.

Cafe Gratitude is located in the downtown district this solar-powered, organic vegan restaurant serves up a gourmet selection of diverse dishes. Loaded salads, tacos, burgers, bowls, soups, pasta, a breakfast menu, no matter what you’re feeling this place probably has it. Most of their menu is under $15. So while not the cheapest option, it is comparable if not on the lower side to most restaurants in the city.

True food Kitchen is a chain that serves health-conscious meals. While not exclusively vegetarian, this place has a great variety of options that are either vegetarian or vegan. Located in the Country Club Plaza area over-looking the river, this place is definitely on the more expensive side. However, if your’re just in the mood for a snack and drink in between shopping this is the place to go. On weekdays they have a ‘social hour’ from 3-6 p.m. which includes $5 apps and drinks. I recommend the fig and gorgonzola flatbread and Pom Cosmo cocktail! These guys have locations all over the States so check out their website to see if you’ll be passing by one on your travels.

Chicago, IL

Loving Heart Vegan is organic and entirely vegan. Located in Uptown, they have soups, salads, burgers, wraps, bowls, sweets, and drinks. Most items are under $10. I haven’t been here but have heard good things and hope to check it out next time I’m visiting.

Indianapolis, IN

Three Carrots has two Indy locations. I went to the Fountain Square location. Entrees are between $11-$14 but they are a reasonable size and have a great variety. Whether you’re craving a southern bowl or a light salad this place has great options for some vegan comfort food.

Cincinnati, OH

Loving Hut has location all over the U.S. and the world, but I didn’t know till finding out online later. The Cincinnati location has a very relaxed, small shop vibe. They offer a large range of options including sandwiches, wraps, burgers, Asian-inspired, soups, and salads. Almost the whole menu is under $10. They also have desserts and take-out specials.

Columbus, OH

Two Dollar Radio Headquarters is a family-run indie book store, bar, and vegan cafe. With many options such as tacos, wraps, desserts and coffee this place is great for a quick stop or relaxed hang. They also have a vegan pizza menu available on Friday nights.

Take-out and quick stops

The above places I mentioned when you have a few hours or days to explore a city and can enjoy sitting in a restaurant. But then there are the times when there just isn’t the time, or the options. Most fast-food restaurants now have vegetarian options, even if they don’t have it on the menu.

Burger King’s impossible whopper, Chipotle’s sofrita options, and Taco Bell’s many vegetarian options are probably my go to’s. But pretty much everywhere has something if you’re desperate. Other places usually have salads and sides like baked potatoes, fries, and mac ‘n’ cheese.

If you are in a small town and want something a little nicer than fast-food, look for Italian, Asian and Indian restaurants. These places are most likely to have some kind of vegetarian options, and they are usually pretty decent.

One way to find plant-based restaurants and options no matter where you are is with the HappyCow app. This app serves over 180 countries and users can find, order, and review restaurants and stores.

But wherever you are, wherever you’re going, there is some amazing food out there so go find it!

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