The Travelling Bay Vegetarian: A Guide to Going Meat-free Past the Overpass

Jenn Brown lays out the gameplan for non-meat-eaters and healthy meals beyond the overpass

Summers in Newfoundland are temperamental at best, but as an optimistic and adventurous crowd, we jump at any chance to tuck away the snow shovels and go explore the incredible beauty that our province has to offer. Tourists visit us for the same reason.

Whether that means a bike trip, a long weekend around the bay, or an epic island excursion, travelling can lift anyone’s mood (regardless of wind or rain!). Along with the normal travel itinerary, meat-free folks need to add another mark on the ol’ checklist- where and what are we going to eat?

If you’re hitting the highway, the menus you will find at gas station restaurants and small town diners may not be the most enticing to vegetarian and vegan folks. But don’t despair! Beyond the sea of golden deep-fried foods (who doesn’t love an excuse to eat homemade fries?) there is hope! All it takes is a little prep, and an open mind.

Untitled-1Newfoundland is way bigger than most tourists realize. With a half day’s drive from the ferry in Port aux Basques to St. John’s, crossing the province and getting around it takes a lot of time. Travelling often equals you fueling both your car and belly at the same place. Many restaurants will happily make a veggie or grilled cheese sandwich (expect white bread as the norm) and simple salads. Homemade soups will often contain meat, so be sure to ask in advance. If you do dairy, go for a traditional all-day breakfast minus the meat, and hope that they’ll throw a touton with molasses on there! Don’t be afraid to ask, but don’t take it personally if servers can’t substitute items or if menus are restrictive. Balance not being too much of a nuisance with being friendly and asking what they do have – you may be happily surprised!

Many of the smallest towns boast incredible, unique dining experiences. The Bonavista Social Club in Upper Amherst Cove on the Bonavista peninsula offers wood-fired pizzas, soups, breads and more, with ingredients pulled from their gardens daily. The Lighthouse Picnics in Ferryland will accommodate dietary restrictions and allow you to enjoy a tasty meal while sitting along the coastline! Two Whales coffee shop in Port Rexton is a gem, offering locally sourced vegetarian food, sweet treats, espresso and art. Java Jacks in Rocky Harbour has great options too – stop in on your way to Gros Morne National Park. Gander has a local Jumping Bean cafe with locally roasted fair-trade coffee and food, or with reservations you can make your way to Bistro on Roe to enjoy fine vegan dining!

On the TCH, you’ll find chains like Subway, Jungle Jim’s, A&W, and Booster Juice, all with some vegan/veg options. A good tip is to pack a lunch, or find a grocery store on the way. Bring any specialty items you want with you (for example, milk alternatives, tofu, and avocados aren’t available in most places). Pick up sandwich supplies, nuts, trail mix, peanut butter, fruit, hummus, whatever is car-friendly and easy to eat during a pitstop. Watch out for roadside vegetables stands, too – the best way to buy delicious veggies, preserves, and bakeapple jam!

Last but not least: you’re on vacation! Treat yourself to something sweet, approach food with an open mind, go berry picking, forage iceberg pieces for your drinks, try a local recipe and put your own spin on it, cook over a bonfire, have a laugh, and most of all – get to know the interesting people in the communities you’re visiting. Don’t expect what you’re used to; you’re going somewhere new for a reason. Safe and delicious travels!

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