I knew that making the switch to a plant-based vegan diet would be hard; there are limited options when you want to eat out, and it seems like restaurants like to put meat in everything! That being said, the last place I thought I would have a hard time eating is the Hospital! To make a long story short, I found myself in the emergency room of the local hospital last week… thankfully it turned out to be nothing too serious. After laying on a stretcher, that can best be described as utilitarian, another nurse came by to take even more blood. At this point I mentioned that I had been there for going on eight hours, and it would probably be a good idea if I had something to eat… being diabetic and all. She agreed that would be a good idea, and that someone on the previous shift should have done something about that already.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love nurses… they are the backbone of any hospital. They are the ones who have to do all the dirty work, and are fully under appreciated, and overworked. I try not to cause too much trouble with them, because I know that they are likely working with another patient that is far worse off than I am, and the last thing they need is to get me something to eat.
The amazingly talented nurse said she would find something for me… evidently people don’t get fed in the ER. I stopped her before she left, and with trepidation said “I know this is probably going to make it harder for you, but I’m vegan.” A look of panic and concern came over her face, as if to say: I get where you’re coming from, but this place definitely doesn’t. Her tireless search turned up a cheese sandwich on buttered bread (nope!) and an apple. She was very apologetic, but it wasn’t her fault… she doesn’t make these choices. Thankfully she knew that my wife would be coming shortly to check in on me (I had previously told my wife not to come until after work); she told me to give my wife a call so she could sneak in some food. Success! I reached my wife as she was heading out the door; I asked her to stop in at Subway (conveniently located in the Hospital lobby) and get me a veggie sub.
You would think that a hospital of all places would be able to accommodate dietary needs, but maybe it was the fact that I was there “after hours” or just in the ER. Either way, it was a learning experience for me. Because I like to consider myself solution-focused, I present my top five favourites for when I have to eat out on short notice!
5) Subway or Mr. Sub – Veggie sub on whole grain bread. Make sure to tell them no cheese and may… they love putting it on everything!
4) Sushi – There are lots of great veggie options including: cucumber, avocado, yam, asparagus, and more. Just tell them no mayo or roe.
3) Chinese Takeout – This varies by restaurant, but garlic broccoli and steamed rice is my favourite and is usually readily available. Stay ways from fried rice as it often has chicken or chicken stock in it.
2) Falafel – There are tonnes of shawarma places around me, and every good shawarma place also has falafels. I try not to go with this option too much, as they are deep-fried, but all the toppings are vegan and delicious – cabbage, hummus, pickled turnip, tabbouleh, and toum (garlic sauce).
1) Harvey’s – Veggie Burger on a whole grain bun. They just recently revamped their offerings of veggie and sauce topping with more options; now I can change up the toppings for more variety.