A Vegan in Vegas: Thai Basil Salad, Beautiful Beets, and More
Yesterday, my friends and I were walking up the Las Vegas strip in desiccating 115-degree heat. My skin felt deflated, dehydrated and stretched to my bones. I looked to my left and to my right and saw nothing but immense hotels and a huge sign for Outback steakhouse. A Google search informed me the city's Whole Foods was two miles off the strip, which might as well have been a light year in a place where it takes 20 minutes just to get out of your hotel's "compound." A picture of colorful, aqueous carrots, apples, celery, mangoes, and strawberries came into my tired and dried out mind, and I would have shed a tear, but I couldn't spare the water.
Huge shopping malls aren't my thing. Nor are theme parks. Vegas is the bastard child of both. It's incredibly easy to get lost in the plastic and kitsch, and the prospect of finding a significant stash of vegetables seems like a distant fantasy.
|A view of the Las Vegas strip at night|
Not possible, it turns out. The cafe gets its cooked oats from some other mysterious restaurant on the floor, and they deliver them already soaked in a milk bath. The lovely and resourceful woman at the counter did have granola, though, and offered to hand me a bowl of that with a glass of soy milk (which they have on hand for coffees). I could then buy a dish of berries separately. Sold. My deconstructed breakfast was actually quite good -- I was given a whole carton of berries, and the total cost was just over $13. But the long negotiation process is just something I'm not accustomed to and don't particularly enjoy.
|Thai salad at Cafe Bellagio in the Bellagio Hotel on the Las Vegas strip|
|The beet salad tasting plate at Michael Mina in the Bellagio Hotel|
|The vegan-friendly Japanese tasting plate at Michael Mina left something to be desired.|
Vegans, if you are looking for good green food, do not make the Strip your next vacation destination. I hear there are some decent spots off the main drag, but they require a drive or a cab ride to access, and in my experience, the labyrinthine and congested casinos and walkways are more than enough of a challenge to navigate without venturing outside the bubble.
And I reckon you'll miss your vegetables while you're here. Personally, the dry heat, the frigid air conditioning, and the hours of dancing in crowded nightclubs all make me want to devour bushels of produce, and this desert town doesn't seem to truck enough in to go around.
If you get dragged in for a bachelor party or an impromptu road trip, I recommend bringing plenty of vegan convenience foods -- you will probably need them to scrape by if you're planning to stay vegan in Vegas.
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