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
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
Most Precious Blood, Justin Brannan, center.
Photo by Chris Mottalini
Before leaving for tour, we always hit the familiar New York establishments,
like Red Bamboo (and their signature Creole Soul Chicken), Atlas
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
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
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
Jerky, which I find the most like jerky in appearance, texture, smell,
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
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
a nonprofit distributor of wheelchairs for the disabled.
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
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
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,
So, my love, where do you want to go next? Perhaps into a S’more?—Eric