HELP! I live in a small rural town and we don't have fancy Whole Foods stores or vegan restaurants. It's Wal Mart and McDonalds. I love my Kind Life cookbook but can't cook over half the stuff in it because Wal Mart doesn't carry those ingredients. Does anyone else out there live small-town-vegan? Any tips?? (other than "MOVE!")
Hi B T, I lived in a small town in Kansas for four years and I totally know what you're going through. I hope you like to cook, because you will be making nearly all of your meals if you want them to be vegan. Wal Mart and Kroger carry a lot of normal stuff, like brown rice and beans, all the way to Bob's Red Mill flax seed and vital wheat gluten (for making seitan)....you just have to look, because they separate healthy foods from regular. Wal Mart even has Earth Balance "butter."
For organic veggies and fruit, you might be better off growing your own or trying to locate neighbors/friends who could trade with you. Most Krogers have a small organic section, but I always felt weird looking at expensive organic bell peppers that said 'Product of Belgium.'
When going out to eat, you might just have to have salads and pick off the cheese/meat, or go for baked potatoes/fries, or bean tacos. Or you can ask them not to put cheese on your food and hope that they actually remember. A couple times, I tried getting Taco Bell's cheesy bean and rice burrito without the cheese, and both times, they still put the cheese on there. When I complained they said, "You don't want ANY cheese on it? not even nacho cheese??" Fast food can be difficult. Wendys (good side salads) is better than McDonalds (McD fruit smoothies give me headaches), and Subway and Quiznos are OK if you like paying $6 for veggies in a roll. Get used to bringing PB&J or popcorn everywhere if you want to get full.
I get email newsletters from the Organic Consumer's Association, and the last one mentioned an online service called the Green Polkadot Box. I guess its basically like a green, organic, healthy, online Costco or Sam's type membership club. So you pay like a $50/year membership fee, and then you order from them at a savings over what you'd buy stuff for at a regular grocery store. I didn't really look at too many of the products they had, but it did seem like they had some good variety and it was significantly cheaper than my Whole Foods or Natural Grocer.
Don't know if you'd be interested in something like that, but I thought it was kinda nice to know its out there!
definitely use your online communities for support! That's what I do. Not many vegans in my hometown either. I like this forum. I get haircare and soap from a vegan company and I get food from local farms and our own gardens.