Raw Cactus Wraps by Dragon Man, a Tasmanian Vegan Giant, and Meatless Airport Chow
Yesterday I got on a plane headed to Southern California, where on Saturday I'll run a ridiculously hard endurance race called the Tough Mudder: 12 miles, 25 military obstacles.
I've trained hard over the past three months, and of course I've trained vegan -- buckets of organic spinach and smoothies stuffed with frozen organic blackberries, bananas, soy milk, and superfood powders. I've run about 35 miles per week and done my fair share of pushups, weight lifting, squats, and treadmill-style ladder climbing at the gym. I'm ready as I'll ever be to crawl through icy mud pits and run through a trough of live electrical wire.
First, though, was a flight from Miami to Washington-Dulles and then another from there to Los Angeles. I took the last slurp of my home-spun smoothie and hit the road.
A cafe at the Washington Dulles airport - not a veggie wrap in the lot
I slept through the whole flight to Washington. Once I got to the airport, I decided to use my hour-plus layover more power-walking than for eating. Which was good, because as I cruised around the different eateries, all I saw were turkey, beef, and ham sandwiches and wraps, a Wendy's, an Annie's Pretzel stand advertising pretzel pizzas, and shelves full of oil-soaked white-flour, white-sugar pastries.
But 20 minutes before my flight's slated departure, I began to feel hungry. In the nick of time, I noticed this place called California Tortilla (I've learned that any restaurant with the word "California" in it has a good chance of offering a vegan option) and spotted the vegan "No Meat-o Burrito" on its menu board.
I ordered it on the spot, and it was actually pretty good. Yes, the rice and the wrap were both white, but the thing was loaded with black beans, peppers, dark-green spinach, avocado, and a spicy sauce. I was good to go.
On the second leg of my flight, I noticed the woman to my left was reading something. The paper was white with lots of green on it and the words "broccoli rabe" stood out on the page. Since I'm an obsessive green-nutrition fiend, that was about the end of my snoozing; my curiosity was piqued. Now I was pretending to sleep and peeping other headlines on the page, which included "Put 'Clean Eating' on Your Wellness Radar Today" and "The Lowdown on Sodium in Your Diet." I saw the name of the publication in her hands was Environmental Nutrition.
"I couldn't help but notice what you're reading," I said. "Are you a vegetarian?"
"No, I eat some meat. But my daughter is a vegan," said the woman. Her name, I found out, is Pat Hass. She's from Washington, D.C., and she's 84, but you would never know it. She may not be a vegetarian, but she eats a lot of vegetables and dines on beef only about once every ten days. She doesn't like chicken.
She's also been physically active all her life. She started running for exercise when she was a girl, in a time when people didn't do that. "People would come to my house and knock on the door to see if I was OK," Hass said of her early running days. "They'd see me running around the neighborhood and think I was trying to escape from a rapist or something." She ran her last half-marathon at the age of 74 but had to switch to walking when she had some joints replaced.
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