There are a small handful of these United States that I have not seen. I’ve never set foot in Mississippi, Arkansas, and Alabama… and I am intrigued by what vegan options in these states look like. So given their proximity to each other and time on my side, it was time for a Vegan Victuals food roadtrip!
I flew into New Orleans, Louisiana. I’ve been there before but not in the days when I blog reported. (Oh, I wish I had a Hot Tub Time Machine, like in the awful movie I watched in the hotel last night, so I can retroactively document all of those vegan meals. But anyway–I had breakfast in New Orleans but wanted to hit the road quick. I stopped at Slim Goodies Diner in the Garden District for their Garden Slammer, a veganizable breakfast platter.
The dish had a bottom layer of fresh potato hash, topped with vegan chili, tempeh bacon, and a tofu scramble. It was a great start to my trip that kept me satiated until I reached Jackson, Mississippi for lunch.
I have been eye-baling Cool Al’s from afar for quite some time. I just knew it’d be an interesting place to report on. I was totally right.
This award-winning and accolade-hoarding hot spot of Jackson, MS has a full menu of imaginative and burger and fry items that I’d label Southern Fusion, with vegan options that aim to please.
I got their spicy West African Veggie Burger. This housemade burger is made with black-eyed peas and West African seasonings. They added vegan mayo, vegan cheese, and served it to me on a bun also noted as vegan. Hearing and seeing the “v-bombs,” especially in the staff’s thick, rich Southern accents, got me very excited to eat my meal!
Did I mention the fries?? I got Eggplant Fries, which were deep-fried, crispy strips of eggplant. With my fry order, the cashier rattled off a long list of seasoning options. I choose Cajun.
After a mel like I had, I was glad to have the chance to stop in Rainbow Co-op, a well-stocked natural foods grocer with strict rules about what makes it to the shelves. No GMO, HFCS or refined sugars, etc etc. The market was inside a building that housed other like-minded business. There is an attached vegetarian cafe, High Noon Cafe, that also does Rainbow’s packaged meals and desserts. (I regret not picking one up. They had Mississippi Mud Pie!) The complex also had a fair trade shop, massage therapy, and a community bulletin board with all other sorts of resources. It does my heart good to find a special place like this in Mississippi. I bought a kombucha for the road and was on my to Little Rock, Arkansas.
My GPS had me heading northwest through Mississippi’s desolate state roads and I saw one of the creepiest things I could have seen on the road: a Monsanto facility. All the neatly manicured farmland with its obedient corn crops I had been passing started to leave a bad taste in my mouth. Good thing I had a chocolate chip cookie dough Larabar!
After a long day, I had finally found myself in Little Rock, Arkansas. With the early flight out of New York and the hours of eating and riving, I was beat. The first day of a roadtrip is always the hardest. I was ready just to check into the hotel and forego dinner, but that’d throw everything off!
I made it to The House Gastropub in Little Rock, a hip bar/eatery in Little Rock’s with a focus on quality ingredients. They are by no means a vegetarian eatery but they do boast a housemade vegan patty that veg-heads and omnivores alike give high marks.
And I agree with these veg-heads and omnivores! The vegan patty was delicious and the dreamy focaccia, confirmed vegan. The staff was accommodating and sweet. As I waited for my first meal in New Orleans, I tried to adjust to the southern speed (i.e. not New York speed) of things. I’m getting a little better but there is a striking difference.
Let’s look a little closer at this soft beauty. You can order the vegan patty with any of their dairy-laden burgers with a bit of the ol’ “no this, no that” vegan action. And they have super-salted sweet potato waffle fries that are dangerously delicious.
Ok, 3 meals in 3 different states! I may have another in Arkansas but then I’m heading to Memphis, Tennessee!