We love to travel, but anyone on a plant-predominant diet knows how difficult it can be to eat whole foods while vacationing abroad. In this blog post, I’d like to talk about my recent trip to Las Vegas for the world UNAA Ninja Championships and how we managed to eat a mostly plant-based diet while indulging in vegan comfort food. I also want to apologize for my recent absence from the blog. I wanted to devote my time to training and prepping for my recent ninja competition in Las Vegas!
The whole purpose of my trip was to compete in the World UNAA Ninja Championships, an event I’d been working towards for the last 3 years. As a plant-based athlete ready for the biggest competition of my athletic career, I was looking for healthy whole foods that would fuel my performance instead of bogging me down. Not only did I manage to make veganism work in Vegas, I also enjoyed some delicious plant-based treats and desserts. Here’s my experience with being a vegan in Vegas and my top tips for anyone planning a future trip to sin city.
Off The Strip
Instead of winging it, careful planning went into researching any plant-based options available near our hotel. We spent the first three days at the Orleans Hotel and Casino, since the competition was being held at the Orlean’s arena. This venue is only a few minutes from the strip. Although well maintained, the rooms and casino are pretty basic when compared to the newer and higher end casinos on the strip. Surprisingly, our rooms did not have a refrigerator, so the idea of having available produce or plant-milks was not as convenient. We usually purchase a few grocery items that we can store in our room when needed, but this time we had to live off the land. On past vacations, we usually purchased oatmeal, apples, bananas and berries that we keep in our room, with granola or dry cereal. We also make sure to have soy milk for protein, and to mix in with our coffees, or with our oatmeal. Having a microwave and a refrigerator does make our lives a little easier on vacations, but for this stay at the Orlean’s, this wasn’t possible.
For breakfast, all we need is oatmeal. On our first day, we found the Copper Whisk Cafe, which had soy milk and oatmeal to which we added a side of strawberries, bananas and raisins. They did have sourdough bread and our first breakfast was delicious. I then carb loaded with a delicious smoothie and felt fuelled and ready for my competition. Although the casino did house many seafood restaurants and steakhouses, we stayed on the lookout for Chinese or Japanese restaurants, since they will often offer plant-based options like veggie tempura, tofu with veggies and even vegetable sushi. There was also a food court with fast-food chains including Subway, so we knew veggies wraps or subs were a possibility. We’re also always on the lookout for smoothie bars, and we found Java Vegas. They offered plant beverages like soy, almond and oat milks as dairy alternatives and a wide selection of plant-based options, including delicious smoothies. As a last resort, we had Uber Eats on deck, and there were tons of vegans options available with a few easy clicks. Although finding plant-based options was possible, when limited to the options only available at the Orlean’s resort, it did require some careful planning, reading of menus and discussions with servers.
On The Strip
After 3 days at the Orlean’s, once the competition was over, we wanted to explore what the Las Vegas Strip had to offer. We decided to stay at the Vdara, an eco-friendly, non-gaming, smoke-free, all-suite retreat in the heart of the strip. Vdara is located next to the Bellagio, and Aria, as part of their new and modern City Center complex. These 3 hotels are connected by a tram service, which conveniently circulates between all three at regular intervals.
We started by looking at the neighbouring hotels and their restaurants, in search for plant-based options. We quickly found tons of Japanese and Chinese restaurants in the Aria, Vdara, Bellagio and Caesar’s Palace. We then located great smoothie bars, like Just Plants, which was conveniently located at the Bellagio, just a five minute walk away from our room at the Vdara. Each morning, we powered up with a different smoothie and delicious bowl of oatmeal with all the fixings. We located Mexican restaurants, which often offer plant-based options, like burritos with brown rice or black beans instead of refined white rice and meat. We had dry fruit, protein bars, nuts and seeds readily available in our room, and most convenience stores inside the hotels do have fresh fruit available. During our afternoon at the Forum Shoppes at Caesar’s Palace, we found True Food, where we indulged in edamame guac, poke bowls, vegan pizza and appetizers. We then topped it off with vegan desserts, including mango tarts with an almond and date crust. Miam!
Although we do eat healthy whole foods most of the time, we did want to find some good old fashioned vegan comfort food. That’s how we stumbled on Slice Of Vegas, a pizza place located at the Mandalay Bay Hotel And Casino. A few minutes of walking brought us to the New York New York Hotel and Casino, and then the Excalibur, where another tram connects with the Luxor and Mandalay Bay. Once we found our spot, we started with spicy cauliflower bites, garlic knots, which is garlic bread drenched in vegan butter and almond based cheese. We then ordered the buffalo pizza, with vegan cheese, spicy vegan chicken and vegan ranch dressing. We were stuffed, but still couldn’t resist indulging in vegan dessert, which was deep fried donuts, covered in chocolate and white sugar. We rarely go overboard with our meals, but this time we went full out. We then walked back to our hotels, stuffed and hoping that we’d burn off a few of the thousands of calories we just consumed.
We had a blast. We had healthy options when we wanted to fuel pre-competition and we had healthy options when we wanted to sit down for a nice dinner. And let’s not forget the vegan comfort food that was also readily available! Even though we did manage to be vegan in Vegas, it did require some careful planning.
Here are my top tips for those vacationing and who want to eat mostly plant-based during their trip.
Plan ahead by googling vegan or plant-based options near me
Look for Chinese, Japanese or Mexican restaurants since they often carry plant-based options
Most restaurants that serve breakfast will offer oatmeal
Find smoothie bars
Ask for dairy substitutes like plant-milks
Grab some nuts, seeds, dry fruit, or trail mix at the convenience store
Pack some plant-based options that carry well, like protein bars
I usually eat a ton of fruits and veggies, and these were a little more challenging to find on the go
The vegan movement is growing and finding plant-based options is easier than ever. Remember that demand creates options, so make sure to consider plant-based options, even if you aren’t vegan and even if you do consume animal products. Remember that many other tips and tricks on how to eat more plants are available right on my website at plantbaseddrjules.com. Thanks so much for reading! Please share with those who are travelling soon. This may help them keep it a little more plant-based while indulging in what the vegan movement has to offer!