Summertime is synonymous with the great American road trip, and many of us are concluding the season by hitting the highways to explore places near, far, and very far. Though the road might take us to some truly remote places or sometimes down long stretches of generic-looking thruway, there’s one thing we can always count on finding close to our route, and that’s a gas station. VegNews hit the road to find out the very best vegan snacks available at gas stations. Turns out, these refueling outposts have an abundance of plant-based offerings. Here are four of our favorites.
1. Crunchy snacks
There’s something about snacking on things that crunch in a car that is nearly irresistible. The salty and sometimes spicy flavors somehow accentuate the experience of gazing out the window, zooming past unfamiliar towns. Though some chips are vegan-unfriendly (with ingredients such as whey, casein, and cheese), many gas stations have plenty of cruelty-free offerings. Classic potato chips are a great option, but you can also find Popcorn Indiana’s bags of Kettlecorn (in a “Sweet & Salty” flavor), Good Health brand’s Veggie Straws (available flavored with spicy Sriracha), and good ol’ plain Corn Nuts with three ingredients: corn, corn oil, and salt. Chips can be messy, though, so if you’re looking to keep those crumbs from sinking into the seats and carpeting, grab a can of plain Pringles with a re-sealable top.
2. Fruit, nuts, and seeds
A road trip can be a great excuse to indulge in foods you normally avoid for health reasons, as sugary and fatty treats can seem so much more inviting when we are far from home. However, we can stay healthy on the road thanks to Mother Nature, which provides delicious, satisfying, and body-friendly options—even at gas stations. Nearly any establishment you visit will have at least a few oranges, bananas, and apples from which to choose. Or, stroll the aisles, and you’re likely to spot snack-sized bags of nuts, trail mixes (check the ingredients to be sure they are vegan), and pumpkin seeds. Some gas stations have entire displays devoted to nuts, which means you might find options such as Uncle Ed’s Pantry’s Omega-3 Deluxe Mix with raw pecans, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, almonds, and cranberries.
Gas stations in far off places often host chain restaurants that are familiar to us, and quite a few house small-scale Subway and Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants. For the truly hungry vegan seeking a plant-based meal, Subway can offer a wonderful solution on the road. Opt for one of the chain’s vegan breads (hearty Italian, Italian, or sourdough) and pile on the veggies. If you like a little dressing, request some added olive oil and vinegar, and—voila!—you have a delicious vegan sandwich in the middle of nowhere. Furthermore, Dunkin’ Donuts offers almond milk for those in need of a latte as they roll down the road in the very early morning. If it’s breakfast time, vegans can also order a bagel (all flavors are vegan except sour cream and onion) or the cruelty-free hashbrowns (finger-food sized for easy snacking).
4. Sweet treats
Spending hours on the road can be tiring, and we might crave a pick-me-up. Some gas stations sell Lenny & Larry’s The Complete Cookie (all-vegan), which offers 16 grams of protein per cookie in fun flavors such as Birthday Cake (with colorful sprinkles) and Double Chocolate. If you’re really into the sweet stuff, grab a bag of Sour Patch Kids. They have zero grams of protein and a whole lot of sugar, so you’ll get the boost you’re seeking (but you also might find yourself crashing from the high after a little while). Road trips are all about fun, though, so perhaps this is your moment to indulge. Other vegan sweet treats you can find at gas stations include Nature’s Bakery Fig Bars in blueberry and raspberry flavors and Clif bars ( check the ingredients for the vegan versions), which offer a nice balance of hearty texture and delicious flavors.
Maya Gottfried is the author of Vegan Love: Dating and Partnering for the Cruelty-Free Gal and Our Farm: By the Animals of Farm Sanctuary.