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September 2005
Vegan on the Road with Most Precious Blood
By Justin Brannan and Most Precious Blood


Most Precious Blood, Justin Brannan, center.
Photo by Chris Mottalini
Driving 13 hours to the next show with one headlight and four flat tires has never been a big deal for us. But for our vegan/vegetarian hardcore band, finding food to eat on the road was a cause for alarm. However, throughout our years of touring and intense ingredient investigations, I am proud to say we have become connoisseurs of vegan cuisine on the road.

Before leaving for tour, we always hit the familiar New York establishments, like Red Bamboo (and their signature Creole Soul Chicken), Atlas Café (a vegan cake paradise), and Foodswings (vegan fast food, where they even named a pizza after us). Chinatown’s May Wah is also a great spot to hit especially if you’re the frugal type or prefer to do the cooking yourself. They carry all the mock meats served at your favorite vegan dining establishments—just don’t be too upset when you see how cheap the faux meats really are.

Before we head out on the road, we head over to our practice space on Staten Island to write our ‘hit’ songs. It costs $9 to get onto the island, so we like to make the most of our trip and stop off at Chin Chin Palace, a small nondescript Asian restaurant located in a strip mall. With their enormous vegetarian/vegan menu, this place has been an institution in our lives for years—great food, massive quantities and it’s fairly cheap.

Okay, so now we hit the road. First stop is Rhode Island, and one of several Spike’s Hot Dogs locations. They serve meat hot dogs with a myriad of dressings and toppings, but they also have veggie dogs, which you can dress any way you want. The thick and hearty buns alone are worth the price of admission and will fill you up.

Onward to Boston—outside of Boston to be more specific—to Allston, MA. One door down from the legendary Grasshopper Asian vegetarian restaurant, there is a dumpy little pizza spot, TJ’s, that serves some insane mock creations. Try the BBQ Chicken Pizza or the Meatball Parmesan Hero. Although they serve meat, they have a clearly labeled separate grill and oven just for their vegan items. I promise, TJ’s will leave you a changed person.

Let’s head up to Canada. Over our years of touring Canada, we’ve found that the best part of the country is their vegan cuisine. Let us tell you about a place we stumbled upon years ago called Harvey’s! Harvey’s are pretty much all over the country—like McDonald’s in the U.S.—but they serve some of the best vegan burgers you will ever taste. We can’t sing enough praises about this spot. It has become our Canadian sanctuary. You must stop at Harvey’s.

If you happen to find yourself in Ottawa, swing by Wild Oats. Although it’s a chain, they’re a great little health food store with tons of vegan options. Try the tofu cutlets and the samosas. From the border police to possible strip-searching, Wild Oats makes it worth the hassle.

In Montreal there’s a chain of restaurants called Le Fleurs, home to some of the greasiest food you’ll ever eat. They do veggie burgers and dogs just right, and the french fries and vinegar are what dreams (and triple bypass surgeries) are made of. Our Le Fleurs motto: ‘it’s always good to go to bed on a full stomach.’ It’s worth the throbbing and numbness in the extremities, trust us. Also in Toronto, you will bump into hot dog vendors on the street who’ll make you a mean veggie dog for cheap.

Now that you’ve rolled yourself back over the border and into the States, let’s visit Chicago. First stop, the Pick Me Up Café. We’ve walked 10 miles to this place—in a blizzard wearing short sleeve shirts—just to get down with the vegan french toast and pancakes. There’s tons of stuff on the menu here, but the vegan breakfast is by far the best.

Let’s take a long drive now to Houston, Texas. Located in another nondescript strip mall is a surprisingly yummy place called Tien Ren. This jewel of the south serves a cheap vegetarian and vegan buffet. The atmosphere is calm, relaxing and perfect for stuffing your face.

When you get to California the only spot you need to know is In & Out Burger. This place is another institution for those “in the know.” They have a secret language of different codes and nicknames for all the styles and techniques in which they can make your burger. Even though the only things listed on the menu are “hamburgers, cheeseburgers, fries, shakes and sodas,” there are at least 100 ways you can order your food. Most people opt for the “wish burger,” which is basically a grilled cheese sandwich with all the regular burger fixins. For the vegans, opt for the wish burger without the cheese and you’ll be welcomed to a world of grilled onion goodness. In addition, the fries are made fresh like every 10 seconds or so. In & Out is the spot.

Most of our time on the road is spent at gas stations and rest stops where the vegan options are few and far between. You can always go for the Grandma’s Brand peanut butter cookies, Luna and Cliff bars, and most of the cheap sugar wafer cookies are vegan and good to go as well. It usually takes us a good hour to stop for gas, with most of the time spent wandering the aisles reading ingredients. When something new and vegan is found, everyone comes running over to check it out. You simply don’t realize the impact of being vegan and the endless quest for good food until you hit the road. Luckily, we also have friends who will bake for us—bring brownies and cookies to our shows—or pile us into a car and take us to local vegan spots.

In Times of Desperation…
Taco Bell is a necessary evil of the road. I wouldn’t be caught dead in a Taco Bell when we’re not on tour, but once we shove off, it serves as a last resort. Depending on your confidence with the intelligence of the person behind the counter, you can create some pretty interesting meals by substituting this and that. But, it can get very confusing and frustrating when you get to your seat and realize your burrito is full of everything you said to leave out. The easiest thing to do is ask for the seven-layer burrito minus cheese and sour cream. (They actually have a minus button on their keypad.) Also easy is the bean burrito sans cheese. If you’re feeling lucky and have some time to kill, go for the grilled stuft burrito minus meat, cheese and Baja sauce, but add potatoes. This makes a pretty serious burrito that will fill you up for a good 50-100 miles, at least.

Burger King is an absolute last resort, but if you must, their breakfast options aren’t bad and—believe it or not—some are vegan. The french toast sticks and the hash browns are good to go with just enough grease to kickstart that heart at seven a.m. for another long drive. And you can grab a Dutch Apple Pie—a vegan treat for later when the belly starts grumbling again.

I’ve saved the best for last, a place called CiCi’s Pizza. This is where gluttony lives and breeds. CiCi’s is basically a pizza buffet place where $5 gets you into an all-you-can-eat pizza paradise. There aren’t many vegan options on the buffet table but you can order your own pie for no extra charge. Hold the cheese, load up on toppings and you are now on board with a one way ticket to carb-coma-city. You can also order the garlic bread without the cheese. For $5, this is the best you will find on the road in terms of value and quantity.

There’s a ton of places across the millions of miles of asphalt. These are just the joints we swear by. In fact, if you hit up any of these places and you don’t absolutely enjoy them, we’ll send you a free Most Precious Blood T-shirt. Hey, we’re serious about our on-the-road cuisine.

Most Precious Blood is a vegan/vegetarian hardcore band born in Brooklyn, NY, of which Justin Brannan is a guitarist. Keep your ears open for their album Merciless coming out September 20th on Trustkill Records. Visit www.mostpreciousblood.com for more information.

 

 

 

 

Feeding the Worm


Have you ever had a craving that just wouldn’t go away? Those days where you snack from dawn till dusk, never quite feeling satisfied? Here at Satya we call that condition “the worm.” You might not eat animals, but you still have to feed the one inside you. So thank the stars for…snacks. Here are some of Satya’s favorites.—K.A.M.

Jerky. There is no doubt about it, vegan soy jerky rocks our world. It is perfect for camping, road trips, and everyday snacking. With delicious brands like Vegi-Deli Jerky (especially the Totally Teriyaki), Turtle Island Foods (try the peppered), Primal Spirit Foods (Hot and Spicy wins hands down), and Stonewall Jerquee (Original wild or mild), fans of chewy meat snacks are in luck! A special shout-out to my favorite, Tasty Eats’ Soy Jerky, which I find the most like jerky in appearance, texture, smell, and taste.

Edward and Sons have put the fun back into candy for vegans worldwide! From Gummi Bears to Ginger Gummi Guys, Fruit Gummi Feet to Black Licorice Bears, these yummy gummis feel so good in your mouth. Soft and chewy, they remind Cat Clyne of her childhood spent chewing on the German Haribo originals.

Lara Bar is a delicious blend of unsweetened fruits, nuts and spices. They have become a favorite among our staff. And surprisingly, they are made from 100 percent whole raw foods, and each flavor contains no more than two to six ingredients. It’s hard to believe the apple and cherry pie are raw—so very sweet and yummy! Other favorites are the Chocolate Coconut Chew, Cashew Cookie and the Ginger Snap.

Late July introduces the beloved peanut butter sandwich cracker—a favorite of kids and adults alike—vegan-style. Late July is actually the first line of USDA certified organic crackers, made with organic ingredients, and containing no hydrogenated oils or trans-fats.

Mrs. May’s Vegan Roasted Nut Snacks tricked us. These crunchy mini-sized treats surpassed all expectations—they’re the tastiest of nut brittles. The Blueberry Peanut Crunch is enough to make anyone a fan, but the Nori Peanut is by far the most flavorful—surprisingly good for something with seaweed in it. Plus, Mrs. Mays supports Wheels of the World, a nonprofit distributor of wheelchairs for the disabled.


I Dream of Ricemellow Crème


Road trips can be brutal on a vegan. Rest stops offer little more than potato chips for sustenance and eating out every day can be really damn expensive while traveling. Luckily, day three of my recent road trip down south brought me through Atlanta, GA and right into the friendly headquarters of Cosmo’s Vegan Shoppe.

Starving, I immediately bought a tub of Ricemellow Crème, a marshmallow spread created by Suzanne’s Specialties that became my best friend for the rest of the trip. Lusciously spread with peanut butter onto cheap white bread, the crème instantly became my savior...my sweet, delicious master and my true love for the next week. Museums, new cities, good friends, delicious vegan restaurants...they all paled in comparison to my new favorite travel companion, Ricemellow Crème.
So, my love, where do you want to go next? Perhaps into a S’more?—Eric Weiss


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