Vegan Vegas on $11 a day

Road trip foodIt takes some real work to make it on 11 dollars a day eating plant-based as close to possible in Vegas, but I just got done with a 24-hour period in my hotel on only that much money. It helped that I’m on a work trip with our basketball team and my breakfast buffet was comped. It also helped that I brought an assortment of healthy foods from home that served as lunch and snacks.

Vegas seems to be a favorite destination for our men’s and women’s basketball teams and this time around, I’m with our women’s team with games scheduled for the next two days.

Vegas is not a friendly place for those who eat only whole food, plant-based foods. There are very few vegans options when the casinos’ food choices are usually steakhouses and seafood restaurants with “Florida Stone Crab flown in daily” or a food court full of convenient, quick options void of any nutrition.

When we arrived at South Point Casino, I noticed a Del Taco across the street and after checking into my room, I decided to walk over there and see if it was going to be more like Chipotle, where I could at least watch them make my food and make sure no meat, cheese or sour cream ended up on it, or if it was going to be a conventional fast food place where the junk was made in the back with prepackaged and preprocessed food-like items.

It was the latter and I decided to keep walking. South Point is on Las Vegas Blvd, but miles from the strip. After getting out of the parking lot, you can start to see some of the strip casinos. I could also see, within the next few blocks down LVB, some businesses that may provide something for me to eat. It took two miles, but I finally found a Thai place called Galanga. As with most ethnic places, you usually have the choice to get your food cooked without meat.

I got a peanut curry with tofu. If I were making it at home, it would have been much more healthy, but at least it is free of animal products. Yes, it had white rice and the peanut sauce may have had oil and sugar added, but it was presented on a bed of steamed broccoli which was cooked perfectly.

My late lunch/early dinner yesterday took a four-mile round trip walk and $11 to get and enjoy. I burned about 450 calories just walking there, and conservatively estimated, my food had probably 800 calories in it. Not many calories netted there!

The Asian food I used to eat was fried, smothered in sauce and accompanied by as many crab rangoon as I could get my hands on and dip into sweet and sour sauce. I would eat my meal in under 15 minutes and within 15 minutes of that, I would feel stuffed, sick and very regretful.

(I also want to note that while my wife and I stayed on the Strip in August, we had the avocado tacos at the Border Grill at Mandalay Bay. They were delicious and there were also other plant-based, vegan options marked on the menu.)

Nutrient-dense food like broccoli and tofu fill your stomach quickly, much more than low-nutrient foods like oil and meat. The meal I had yesterday certainly filled me up, but within a few blocks of walking, I felt great.

This morning I went to the South Point Casino buffet and had oatmeal covered in blueberries and walnuts. I also went  to the omelet Blue Berry Oatmealbar and scooped up some pico de gallo, guacamole, black olives and onions and made my own veggie, eggless omelet. I was fairly pleased with the options there for me and could also have had fresh fruit if I wanted.

It’s hard to feel like you’re getting your money’s worth on a buffet when you eat plant-based. All the other diners are filling their plates with pancakes, sausage, bacon and eggs. That was perfectly fine with me. For dinner tonight, I’ll probably have the buffet again and just eat off the  salad bar while everyone else is enjoying Steak Monday…

I don’t have many other options if I’m going to keep up my healthy eating, even while stuck in a Vegas casino miles off the strip during a work trip.

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