Here’s my Winnipeg photolog for Days 12-16 of my North American Road Trip. I share how I stayed healthy despite splurging on delicious home-cooked vegan meals, eating out with family, and a little more slacking off with exercise. And how a week of relaxing your standards is not the end of the world.
After leaving Saskatchewan, we headed east to the next province over, Manitoba, and the capital city of Winnipeg. I grew up visiting Winnipeg, often in the wintertime (masochists, my family!), and this central Canadian city still feels like my second home.
Manitoba is situated on the north end of the great plains, above North Dakota and Minnesota. One prairie-dweller told me that the first time she traveled to a place with mountains, she felt claustrophobic, not being able to see the sky in all directions.
Road Trip Food Can be Veggie Gourmet
A road trip between provinces wouldn’t be complete without making a salad in the car. Read my article for other ideas of how to eat healthy in the car without pulling over.
Leftovers from dinner the night before make a great road trip lunch.
After a mere five hour drive from Yorkton, Saskatchewan, we arrived in Winnipeg, Manitoba. As soon as I saw the parking lots set up to plug your car in during the minus 40 degree winter (it’s not called Winter-peg for nothin’), I remembered why my parents moved south.
When in Doubt, Go East Indian
We arrived in Winnipeg to meet my family, and everyone was hungry. There happened to be an Indian Tandoori place nearby called Clay Oven so we headed there.
Clay Oven is an East Indian restaurant in Winnipeg, and it has a special vegan menu which is a total bonus. I can usually find vegan dishes on any Indian menu, but it was nice to have a dedicated section. However, definitely don’t ask them for any alterations! Pleasant enough staff, but the policies are not very accommodating. Even though they have a vegetarian thali sampler platter, they can’t do a vegan one… Luckily, there were three vegans at the table so we ordered a few dishes and shared.
Explore Your Surroundings by Borrowing a Dog (preferably with permission)
In Winnipeg, we stayed with family who were super vegan-friendly and accommodating. Part of my “fitness routine” was to walk our hosts’ dog. They had a lovely walking path nearby along a creek.
Give Omnis a Chance to Express their Generosity and Make You Some Vegan Food!
I often talk about the risk in making assumptions. As vegans, we sometimes begin to expect that finding meal options will be hard or that we will be criticized for our choices. Our danger is developing a chip on our shoulders so that we are immediately on the defense and close ourselves off to all the positive outcomes. An important thing to remember, and something I spoke about in my first travel article How to Travel Healthy on Raw Fruits and Veggies, is to give others a chance to pleasantly surprise you.
One night we did a family dinner, and our hosts planned an entire vegan meal. It still totally warms my heart (cheesy but so true) when Omnis invite me into their home and then show the respect and understanding to plan out a plant-based meal for everyone, not just a side-note. After all, vegan food is just food and anyone can eat it, right?
Plus we got to help prepare it. Cooking with friends and family remains one of my favorite pastimes. I love being at a cutting board with a good sturdy sharp knife. There is something wonderful about busy hands while visiting and then sitting down to yummy food together afterwards.
I admit that I got seconds – I’m a food addict, what can I say? I did make sure to fill half my plate with salad each time. The vinaigrette was not as fattening as many dressings, but I snuck in some extra un-dressed romaine anyways… Shh, don’t tell!
This is where things got a little dangerous! I broke down when our host offered us home-made-from-scratch vegan strawberry ice cream straight out of the ice cream maker. Then, the raspberry crumble… My desserts usually consist of frozen fruit blended into sorbet with no added sweetener, so this was decadently sinful. I admit to having two servings of this!
How I Stayed Healthy Despite Occasional Splurges
These meals are okay for an occasional splurge, but the reason I stayed healthy was my everyday habits, including my breakfast green smoothies. We brought in and set up the vitamix in our hosts’ kitchen.
All You Need to Stay Fit While Traveling is a Bare Spot of Ground
And some determination and self-discipline.
I didn’t forget my game-plan and did the simple body-weight routine from it a few times during our stay in Winnipeg. All I needed was a chair (for step ups and tricep dips) and some blank space. I also got in a full Bikram yoga series with only this small clear area. Plus the dog walks. It wasn’t my finest fitness hour, but it held me over.
Since I did so well with fitness in Fort Collins, it was only a week (Saskatchewan and Winnipeg combined) that I slacked a little. If you are already in good shape and continue to make clean food choices, you can make a comeback from a week or two of lower activity levels.
But Calculated Indulgences have their Place in a Healthy Lifestyle
With family, you often end up dining out. We were so lucky in that our family was supportive and interested to try out some of the city’s vegan options. This time we joined everyone at an all-vegan burger joint called Boon Burger. Pretty cool for a meat-and-potatoes town, eh? One of the four vegan listings in HappyCow. It was good enough that it warranted its own post, so watch for my upcoming Boon Burger article. And for now be content with this food photo.
And Venturing Out on Foot Blends Exercise with Exploration
The next day, we spent some time at Assiniboine Park strolling through the Leo Mol sculpture garden. I had to share a photo of some of his sculptures of the female body because I love their shape. To me, these women look more everyday and “average”, if there is such a thing. Maybe because I feel like their bodytype resembles mine with wider thighs, smaller breasts, and less curve. Must be the Eastern European influence.
Winnipeg is Canada’s gateway to the west and has an interesting history starting as a river transportation corridor for aboriginal peoples before being settled by French fur-trappers and later becoming the major commercial center for the prairie provinces. The city has worked to revitalize the downtown core.
Especially When You Find some Fresh Veggies Along the Way
Of course while we were strolling around downtown, we couldn’t miss out on the farmers market in front of the Manitoba Hydro Building (which is LEED certified gold because I knew you’d want to know).
I guess “Veg Out” is a popular name for vegan food businesses that frequent farmers markets! Those of you from Vegas are probably familiar with the delicious food from the Las Vegas Veg Out version which includes meals and savory dishes as well as sweet treats.
The Winnipeg-based Veg Out was a local bakery with white-sugar-free, gluten-free, and soy-free desserts. Jay got one of her peanut butter brownies and my sister and mom bought some of her specialty cupcakes.
I picked up some fresh veggies from a few of the stands of local produce, and I was ready to chow down. That kind of lunch didn’t fly with my Omni family or my high-calorie husband, so they picked up sandwiches at Subway. Jay got one of the veggie patty subs and was reminded of why he doesn’t eat them anymore.
I shamelessly pulled out a couple of ears of corn and a pint of cherry tomatoes and proceeded to shuck corn right there next to my family with their sandwiches. Having a plastic bag you can put the husk in helps keep it discreet. My meal was really fresh and delicious, and I felt great afterwards. This was just part one to my lunch to tide me over until I reached the car for my reinforcements.
Refueled, we got to explore more of the historic parts of downtown Winnipeg, some buildings dating back to the early 1900s.
While we were downtown, we checked out one of the other three HappyCow listed vegan cafes, but didn’t get a chance to eat (though Jay snagged one of their muffins).
Colorful area… See, even Winnipeg has a funky part of town. Like the paparazzo I’m quickly becoming, I snapped a quick photo of their menu. I would have loved to try their vegan pupusas. Maybe next time we are in Winnipeg.
From Winnipeg, we head east across Canada to Toronto. But even though Winnipeg and Toronto are the capitols of neighboring provinces, there is a 24 hour drive along the Trans-Canada Highway between them. We broke it down into three days.
Next post in my North American Road Trip series is western Ontario and the Trans-Canada Highway. We’ll drive through the lonely country north of the Great Lakes and get a chance to camp on the beach and visit a hippy hostel in the woods.
Now your turn. Do you live in Winnipeg or have you visited Manitoba? What are your thoughts on a plant-based diet on the prairies?