Sunday, August 02, 2015

Fresh blueberries for breakfast, and chipotle black bean and veggie burger for lunch

I was thrilled to see Hotel 340 include fresh blueberries and cantaloupe 
For three and one-half years I have eaten a plant-based diet.  I've taken vacations and attended conferences, and I have been able to navigate my way around cafes, restaurants and banquets.

My "hobby" while traveling is to see where I can get a good vegan meal and a nice pool to swim laps. 

It has been a fun challenge and goal for my travels to see if I can stick with my vegan and environmentally-conscious commitments. Most recently my husband and I traveled to Chicago via Amtrak. We live in Duluth, Minn. and boarded the train in St. Paul, Minn. after staying overnight at a hotel near the depot. I packed a bag with oranges, apples and peanut butter sandwiches for the trip to St. Paul.    

The real china dishes was a plus. I hate using disposable dishes. 
The first night my husband wanted to walk around downtown St. Paul to see what he could find to eat. He isn't vegan so it's a lot easier for him to find something to eat. I wanted to stay in at the hotel because it had an elegant Art Deco lap pool that I wanted to swim. I swam and then came back and ate the apple and one of the peanut butter sandwiches.

In the morning we tried the hotel's complimentary breakfast. It included fresh blueberries and cantaloupe.   

Eating in the dining car is fun. 

On the train the next day, I made sure to keep my bag of goodies near my side, but was curious if I could find something vegan on the dining car. Seating on the family car is "family or community style," meaning if there is empty space at your table you sometimes end up eating with people you don't know.  We joined two women from Chicago who had attended a "One Direction" band concert in St. Paul. This was a fun experience for us.

To my surprise a chipotle black bean and veggie burger was on the menu. I ordered this as did the two women from Chicago, though they weren't vegan. They said they just liked these burgers. My husband ordered the cheeseburger. (The waitress asked him if he wanted bacon on it, "Geez, are you trying to give him a heart attack," I wondered.)

I was also pleased to see the vegetarian entree, but since it included feta cheese, I didn't order it.
And though I eat vegan for my health, I ordered a Pepsi and chips instead of salad, which I know is a lot of extra sugar, oil and salt that I don't need, but I figured we were on vacation and I could splurge. I know some vegans who don't follow their vegan diets when they vacation, but I do.

This is my chipotle black bean and veggie burger. I garnished it with ketchup and mustard.
This is hubby's cheeseburger. He ordered iced-tea for a drink. 
Water was offered free of charge.
Note Amtrak's environmental logo.

While I was pleased with the service of our Amtrak waitress and with the quality of the food, I was disappointed that the Amtrak uses plastic plates. I asked the waitress if they washed the plates and reused them, but she said the plates are disposable and thrown out after one use. When hubby and I took the train a few years ago ceramic/china dishes were used on the dining car.  If you look at the logo on the water glass and the coffee sleeve, Amtrak uses a leaf and the tagline or motto, "Rail consumes less energy than cars or air travel." Our waitress said the switch to plastic, disposable plates happened two years ago and there was a big discussion about it. "I don't like it," she said, "It's wasteful." 


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