Vegan Cooking On the Road
It can be difficult to find vegan food on the road, and when you add in additional restrictions, like following Drs. McDougall and Esselstyn, trying to eat out is too much trouble. One of the main reasons for choosing the Westy for travel was the functionality of the kitchen. With my little kitchen, I can whip up a healthy lunch while on the road in the middle of nowhere, I can cook off the grid, and with shore power, I can even power appliances, for cooking like at home. I can cook my favorite dishes, to my taste, and I can save money in the process. What I want to avoid is the road trip trap of eating for convenience, either by eating out regularly, or eating processed, refined, convenient crap.
My goal for this year’s Mofo is to experiment and learn about cooking on the road in a small space, on and off the grid. My hope is that it can apply to many different travelers, those with more amenities, like a larger RV, and those tent camping. Much of this can even cross over to emergency preparedness, those times when you are forced to “camp” at home without power, water or other help due to some natural disasater.
Introducing the Westfalia
Volkswagen had been making camper vans for a long time. Rumor has it that an officer stationed in Europe after WWII wanted to see the sights before heading home. He was impressed by the functionality of the air cooled VW buses used for both military and civilian purposes. He wondered if the interior could be fitted out with a bed and storage for camping gear, and the prototype was made.
Eventually VW began commercial production by partnering with companies; VW supplied bare buses, and companies like Westfalia built a camper interior, and sometimes added exterior accessories like awnings and tents. Some models incorporated a pop top roof that allowed one to stand up inside the van, and/or have an additional “upstairs” bunk. Some models incorporated a stove, some had a sink, some had an ice box.
Over time, the VW bus grew bigger, but kept its air cooled, rear engine layout. In 1980, VW made a new van, called the Vanagon, bigger than those before, and a couple years later changed over to a water cooled boxer engine for more power and easier smog compliance. The most common camper configuration is the Westfalia, or “Westy”, with its familiar angled poptop. The kitchen includes a two burner propane stove, sink, 13 gallon fresh water tank, and small fridge that runs on 120V external power, propane, or the van’s 12V battery. There are lots of storage cabinets, and two tables that fold away and swing out for use. This is my home on the road.
In the early 90s, VW updated the venerable campervan one last time before discontinuing it, at least for the North American market. It’s a shame, really, as its small, simple layout is quite practical. Easy to drive and park, and when not camping, it looks like a regular van, not an RV. There really isn’t anything quite like it that I’ve seen.
So off I go, through the four corners area for this trip, doing my best to eat clean, healthy, economical meals under a variety of circumstances.
Since his should be food related, I leave you with another roadside lunch, this time a pasta salad.
cooked small pasta shape, like penne
1-2 heirloom tomatoes, diced
several kalamata olives, chopped
1-2 T capers
1-2 T diced red onion
1-2 cloves minced, fresh garlic
generous pinch red pepper flakes
minced fresh herbs, like basil or parsley, if available
Combine all ingredients and season to taste with salt and pepper. No olive oil is needed when you have fresh, juicy heirloom tomatoes.