IT is disputedly the best known seafood capital of the USA.
The north eastern states of Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Connecticut attract over one million tourists each year desperate to make the most of the all you can eat lobster shacks and fish dinners on every corner.
So it is no wonder that some vegans may approach the idea of a holiday in New England like turkeys approach Christmas.
But for me, the lure of the region’s amazing scenery, intriguing history and once in a life time whale watching (oh and a free family holiday) just proved too much.
Following a week spent in Gloucester, Massachusetts, I’ve come up with nine tips to help visiting vegans stay healthy and sane.
Top tips for surviving as a vegan in New England
Heading out for the day? Don’t bank on finding something edible in between meal times. Play it safe and stuff your pockets with nuts, crackers and all the vegan stereotype foods from a supermarket.
–Talking of supermarkets.
The Market Basket chain has a good selection of food if you’re prepared to hunt through the crazily large number of aisles.
And despite resistance to veganism in restaurants, the chain has a section devoted to fake meats and cheese! Great news for if you plan to cook at home.
It also has an incredible hummus selection for those in need of a healthy protein fix.
–Don’t eat the chocolate
…or most sweets for that matter. You better get used to it now-a stint in New England for a vegan is one of enforced healthiness. I actually lost weight while in the land of the super size.
While lots of European dark chocolate is vegan friendly, Americans can’t seem to make a bar without adding a gallon of cream.
I searched high and low in supermarkets and candy stores but always left empty-handed. It might be just as well-from my non-vegan memory, the sugary mess they call chocolate sucks! 😉
–Find a health food store.
Substantially sized towns should have one at least nearby.
Gloucester’s is the Common Crow Market on the outskirts (tells you all you need to know about the status of veganism here ;)). Here, you can sure get a decent lunch from the deli and find vegan chocolate, but be prepared to clean out your wallet for it.
–Seek out vegetarian restaurants.
These establishments are the few true friends of vegans in New England. Check out the Happy Cow website for local restaurants but if you happen to visit hip city of Portsmouth in New Hampshire, be sure to eat at the wonderful Green Elephant.
This Asian inspired eatery serves food so good that my meat eating family crowned it their favourite meal of the whole week-huzzah! Who needs fish, eh?
–Or head to ones specialising in one type of cuisine.
Far east Asian restaurants are a good bet and relatively easy to find, as are Mexican ones, if you fancy a bean bonanza.
–Prepare yourself for a carb coma or salad starvation. Don’t worry, you’ll never go completely hungry.
But in towns outside of the big cities, many bistros, even smart ones, don’t have a lot to offer.
After a week of eating out in Gloucester, where I stayed, and in neighbouring areas, I have become an aficionado of tomato pastas, salads and free bread.
–Don’t be afraid to ask for something off menu.
Well, you can but try. I must admit, saying I was vegan appeared to strike fear
into my waiter most of the time.
Even when the chefs agreed to come up with something off menu, it invariably was suspiciously pasta or salad like in appearance.
But I did have some luck with an amazing Thai salad at Parish Cafe in Boston and at Passports in Gloucester, who were very accommodating.
And lest I forget the giant cheese-less pizza from the town’s Maria’s Pizzeria.
–Thank god for the generous drink sizes.
But if all else fails, stock up on the free bread and make the most of the fantastic alcohol to glass size ratio.
Not seeing one unit measuring cup in sight cheered me right up-take note, stingy bar tenders of England!