Sunday, October 2, 2011

Eating Vegan on a South Dakota Road Trip

One of the first things I did when my husband and I decided to go to South Dakota for vacation was look up vegan and vegetarian restaurants on Happy Cow. Of the five results listed, three were natural food stores; only two restaurants were veg-friendly. We rented vacation homes for most of the trip so I could cook at home, but we planned to be on the road a lot. I wondered if I would have to give up veganism for this trip. While I gave up dairy for ethical reasons, it now makes me physically sick...but I knew I would be starving and unhappy with just salads. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to eat eggs and dairy if there was no other choice, so I was happy that it wasn't too hard to eat vegan, even in bison-burger country.

After flying into Rapid City (I found a vegan garden lentil salad in the Chicago airport!), we drove to Badlands National Park. Of course we had to stop at Wall Drug, where they had veggie burgers on the menu. This was the only time on the trip where I did have to stray from veganism, because I knew the veggie burgers were Morningstar and thus had cheese and egg in them. Luckily I didn't get sick from eating it.

We stayed at an inn in the park. Our sole source of food was the restaurant at Cedar Pass Lodge. They also had veggie burgers on the menu. Instead, I got a salad, fries, and Indian fry bread--a sweet, puffy, fried bread reminiscent of funnel cakes. I knew this wasn't very healthy, but it truly was the only option (besides the non-vegan veggie burger). At breakfast at the lodge's restaurant, I wondered if I'd have to eat eggs for protein. I was so excited to see they had oatmeal, fruit, and soymilk ! I was able to get my protein from the soymilk and oatmeal, so I didn't have to eat eggs.

After Badlands we drove west to the Black Hills. For lunch we ate at a Mexican restaurant, where I got a bean burrito. Hot Springs had a natural food store, Earth Goods, and I got other basics at a grocery store before we went to our vacation home near Crazy Horse Memorial. I bought whole-wheat bread, peanut butter, jelly, fruit, veggies, and soymilk. We stayed at a privately owned miners' ghost town in the renovated boarding house--definitely one of the most interesting places we've stayed at!

We saw Mount Rushmore and Custer State Park and did a lot of scenic driving in that area. We ate out at another Mexican restaurant, a regular restaurant that had a southwestern black bean burger, and ate at home the rest of the time.

We then drove north and stayed in a vacation home in Spearfish Canyon and from there explored Deadwood, Sturgis, and Devil's Tower in Wyoming. Again we ate Mexican food or ate at home.

Because the area has so many tourist attractions, nearly every restaurant had at least one veg option besides a salad. My fallback was Mexican food or peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, which I was completely happy with.

It was a great trip. Badlands was so gorgeous--the most spectacular landscape I've ever seen after New Zealand and Alaska. It had interesting rock formations surrounded by rolling prairie, with cacti and desert-like vegetation mixed in, and buffalo roaming and prairie dogs chattering. And the grazing horses and cows throughout all of western South Dakota was really picturesque.
We flew back through Denver, where I had a brown rice, veggie, and tofu bowl with thai dressing. Perfect way to end our vacation!

To see more South Dakota pictures, check out the rest of mine or my husband's (which are way better). Oh, and on this vacation we celebrated our ninth wedding anniversary on September 20!


  1. amazing post, those pics blow my mind! i want to go there!!!

  2. Hi, great to see you blogging again! SD looks like a great travel destination, and good to hear that you managed to maintain your veganism while traveling. I feel as though it's really a push-and-pull with any sort of extensive traveling and being as vegan as possible is really the only thing I can do. It's good to hear I'm not alone!

  3. Beautiful pictures! I hope to go there some day! PB&J always works for me too! :o)

  4. Happy Anniversary, looks like a beautiful time. That miner's house sounds pretty great. Mexican food is a pretty ubiquitous fall back. I'd be interested to hear what you cooked at the homes!