Diandra: This week, I have challenged my non-Vegan friend, Gedeon, to be a Vegan Abroad in Chicago. Lets see how it goes!
– Hi Gedeon!
Gedeon: “Hey Big head!”
Next stop the Windy City. Yes, please take me to Chicago!
A beautiful city home to almost 3 million people; making it the third most populous city in the US. A city known for its beautiful skyline and outstanding skyscrapers proudly showcasing the magnificent architecture. Well with a city so populated and so vibrant, finding Vegan restaurants would be as easy as 1,2,3, right? Uhhhh! Wrong! Ok, well maybe finding Vegan restaurants is asking for too much, but what about finding vegan choices at popular non-vegan/vegetarian restaurants? Yes! I was wrong about that too!
I’m struggling at this point, and seeing that I’m not really a vegan…(thinking what I’m thinking my none vegan friends?? )
No! I won’t give up just yet! (Help!?)
Nonetheless, I wanted to carry out the challenge that was forcefully set upon me by Diandra (), but not only to prove to her that I can do it; but also for my own insight into the everyday travel struggles of vegans abroad! Why do this? My friend asked. With a contemplating smile I replied, “You can’t knock it till you’ve tried it.”
I was only in Chicago for 4 days, so I had to actively look for vegan options or I would have left with not having a single meal. I did intend to do my best to remain loyal to the vegan fraternity, and I can ensure you I tried my utter best! I probably should have taken some tips from last weeks post to help with this challenge, but I was overwhelmingly unprepared. So yes! Mentally, I had the backup plan of other unhealthy, non-vegan alternatives if all else failed – I’m sure you can use your imagination. (Sorry to the vegan who read that statement and cringed.)
After a long flight, I got to Chicago pretty hungry and decided I should go head first into my search for a vegan meal. That! My friends, failed miserably! Truth is I did get potato fries or as some refer to as, ‘chopped spuds’, that were deep fried in vegetable oil. I guess one would say that this is vegan, but that was not quite my idea when I took up this challenge. I did eat my spuds and drank my fresh fruit juice, but at this point, I may have admitted partial defeat, as I was having serious doubts about this experiment.
The next day my friend whom I stayed with, got in on the action and was enjoying my agony. To rub it in even more, he suggested that we go to the best place for wings in Bridgeport Chicago. Indeed, I was excited, but wondered if this was the opportunity to get a decent vegan meal at a famous non-vegan restaurant. (Just wait for it) We were off to Buffalo Wings and Rings. Yes guys I said it, Wings and Rings, mouth watering right, my vegan friends? Ha-ha, just pulling your legs. As we waited for a table I asked for a menu to begin the vegan search. Well, I did not need much of a search as there was a vegetarian option, and of course your salads and spuds. I decided to order a veggie quesadilla. Whole-wheat tortilla filled with tomatoes, green peppers, portabella mushrooms and red onions, with chipotle aioli for the added kick, but unfortunately had to ask to hold the cheese. This was served with a side of fire-roasted salsa. Yum yum yum, jackpot! Umm who said veggie food was lame!?! I wasn’t happy at first having to hold the cheese, but this turned out great! To be honest, I quite enjoyed this meal and would certainly say this is one of the most enjoyable meals I had. At this point its zero to me and one to vegans.
Next stop was the Chicago dinner, located in North Halstead. This was the dream of a vegan restaurant. I was quite intoxicated and couldn’t bare eating something healthy to soak up all this alcohol. (Hence also why, I forgot to take pictures of the food!)
This would change me completely without a doubt. The dinner was quite what you would imagine an American style diner to be. The menu was endless and I was spoilt for choices, but in the end, I went to the Country fried Stake, which comprise of, Battered seitan filet, topped with country gravy, rustic mashed potatoes & sautéed vegetables. Yummy, this was finger licking good! Next was dessert, and I had the Caramel Apple Pie A La Mode. This included warm apple pie topped with house-made caramel and vanilla temptation ice cream. I felt normal again! (Not that Vegan’s aren’t normal or anything…) Indeed, I really enjoyed the meal and was seriously contemplating converting over to the vegan side, long term.
I did go on to try a vegan deep dish pizza which I quite enjoyed, but would not trade for a meat feast just yet. All in all after having some really lovely and healthy vegan meals in the city, I must admit that it’s not easy to find great vegan/vegetarian options, however, it is wise to plan and search the Internet for menus prior so one would not be spending most of their time searching for food. Here are 5 tips I should of followed for being a Vegan abroad [Vegan Abroad: 5 Step Guide to Travelling whilst being vegan], which I sadly underestimated. I must say, although there was not much to choose from, there were still great tasting and healthy options available all around. The real challenge is to find it. Be sure to try the Chicago Diner, as it’s the ultimate vegan dream, fantastic food in a brilliant setting.
I want to take this time to commend Vegans. I have a completely new outlook on their struggles and they do a brilliant job of maintaining this diet. Who knows, I may return again, being a fully converted Vegan.
2333 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Chicago, IL 60647
Phone number: +1(773) 252-3211, ext. 1
P.S, Sorry for the lack of pictures, but here’s one of me sipping on some tea searching for vegan food!
This post first appeared on Vegan Abroad, please read the originial post: here