Monday, September 21, 2009

Vegan at LAX

Note: This post nwas written on September 13, 2009

So here I am at the LA Airport and I have some time to kill so I whipped out Dan’s computer for a bit of a rant (for once, I left mine at home on vacation).

Dan and I are on our long-awaited trip out West, celebrating our landmark 10th anniversary. We’re waiting to board a plane to Portland, OR, America’s vegan-and-bike-friendly city, and we can’t wait. But first we must endure airports.

Before I rant, allow me apologize to Reno. Reno, I am sorry. I misjudged you. And I’ll miss you. I fully expected to have major problems finding decent food in Reno, but boy was I wrong! First of all they have the most amazing Whole Foods I’ve ever been to, with more vegan choices (local to the CA Bay Area) than I’ve ever seen. They actually have a Trail Mix "Bar" (not a bar like a wrapped snack, but like a salad bar)! Perfect with our morning oatmeal! And fortunately, we stayed at a hotel that is walking distance from the Whole Foods. Furthermore, we enjoyed s dinner out at a Thai restaurant that made everything vegan for us (thanks, Thai Lotus). And we enjoyed yummy dinner one night at Pneumatic, an all-vegetarian restaurant downtown. Thanks guys. I took some great pics there but my memory card got corrupted and is unreadable.

Anyway, to add to the vacation serendipity, yesterday we drove to Lake Tahoe for a day of biking and sailing, and happened upon a natural foods store (and I mean happened upon – we were looking for the bike trail that goes along the Truckee River and we went totally the wrong way and saw it, our own oasis!) called New Moon. We asked the folks there for directions and they got us back on the path, and after our 12-mile ride we lunched there, enjoying a 100% raw meal that was absolutely outstanding. We got the sprouted lentil salad with Indian spices and a cilantro dressing as well as the Raw-Co, a “taco” whose shell was red cabbage and innards were all sorts of delicious fresh veggies, seeds, soaked nuts, sprouted beans, and herbs/spices, served with a raw lemon tahini sauce.. Nothing could possibly beat this healthful, energizing, delicious lunch on this gorgeous day after a long ride. Plus the folks there were super-friendly.

So this morning we said good-bye to Reno, and now we have this horrific layover at LAX. With no time (or appetite) for breakfast this morning, getting off that plane, I was HUNGRY. No more trail mix, soy Jerkey, or Lara Bars (our usual travel fare); I wanted a real meal. Unfortunately the only places (without leaving security) to eat here are Burger King, Starbucks, a fish restaurant, and a California Pizza Kitchen kiosk (with ready-to-go food).

First, to Starbucks. We got a fresh fruit salad. A little pricey at $5 and change, but that’s no surprise at a Starbucks. Some of their drinks cost the same. (They also have nuts, trail mix, and oatmeal, all of which are good choices, but we were growing tired of these foods and craved a salad.)

Next, to CPK. They had 3 salad choices! Yeay! Oh, wait, ALL THREE have CHICKEN. Shame on you, CPK.

Next to the fish restaurant, called Gladstone’s Fish. They have salads on the menu! And it’s a sit-down place so surely they can make salads to order, right? WRONG. They flatly refused to make us a salad without some sort of meat in it. Shame on YOU, Gladstone’s Fish.

Next, to Burger King. They have a side garden salad, bird flesh optional! Yeay! So I got it. Imagine my surprise when I was told how much it costs – $5.79. Not that this is a terrible price for a salad, but this is Burger King for goodness sake. The guy in front of me got a ginormous burger with fries and drink... for around the same price. No wonder cash-strapped folks skip the salad and go right for the burger and fries! Understandably, they would rather pay less than a penny per calorie of food (typical “value meal”) than several cents per calorie (vegetables). What this comes down to, I have figured out, is that Burger King penalized people who try to eat well. How dare they charge so much for a salad, which by the way, as evidenced by the photo above, contained lettuce, five pathetic little baby carrots, four tiny cherry tomatoes, and of course the obligatory croutons and cheese (straight from the “garden”). I understand that they operate on volume, and thus must charge more for a salad (which also has a far shorter shelf life than, say, frozen french fries). But if they charge so much, no one buys it and the price has to stay high. So that said, why not reward people who want vegetables instead of fatty, salty food for lunch, charge them a fair price for the salad, and raise all other menu items by 1 cent? Call it BK’s own health tax. And imagine if their competitors did the same! Judging on this country’s current fast food consumption rate, I bet if they did this, they would make a huge difference in the morbidity rate in this country. But they’re not in the business of health, they’re in the business of profit.

The salad was surprisingly good. The vegetables were very fresh (I like to think this isn’t due to the addition of some chemical to retard spoiling, but I’d rather not go there right now). They also had lite Italian dressing (vegan), by Ken’s. The cheese was in a separate section so easy to omit, and the croutons came in an individually wrapped bag (there were about 49 ingredients in there, some not vegan, so I skipped them). An addition of nuts, seeds, and dried fruit (from Starbucks) would have made it better; in hindsight that is what I should have done. But it’s hard to be creative when you’re hungry. So... next time.

Off we go to Portland, where fresh, delectable plant-based meals abound.


Lisa said...

Congrats on 10 years ... can't wait to hear about Portland!

TRISTA said...

How did you like Portland? Have you been here before? I hope you tried Blossoming Lotus (the one in NE Portland, not so much the one inside the yoga studio in NW).

I'd love to hear what you liked and didn't like!