Fettle Vegan Goes Vegas!
I had never been to Las Vegas before Thursday evening. I turned 21 in September and everyone urged me to go as soon as possible but I don't drink, and I'm a total introvert. A place like Las Vegas totally terrified me. Luckily, my boyfriend is pretty neat and decided to plan a nice short, bar-free trip that wouldn't totally overwhelm me. We also figured we could make it a little bit of a vegan adventure and see what kinds of things Vegas offered for vegans...beside beer. We're only about a 3.5 hour drive from the city so when Alex got off of work at 2 pm, we started our drive. Luckily, we didn't hit traffic anywhere other than the slight slowing at the state line.
We started being able to see the lights from the strip crest the mountains when we were still an hour out. Wow.
Once we finally got checked into our hotel and slightly bundled up, we ventured out into Sin City. The whole place seemed to have this constant buzz, though when we first arrived the streets seemed pretty empty. Obviously, Vegas is all about the night life. We walked through casino after casino, gambling away a grand total of 10 dollars! We toured through exhibits, art galleries, museums, indoor atriums and tattoo parlors. There really does seem to be something to accommodate everyone, which was really great. Everything not related to gambling or drinking pretty much closes around 8 pm, but it was really cool to be able to walk around and explore a place with so much history and so exclusivity. I felt like everyone we saw dressing up and partying could have been famous-everyone was so good looking! We went into the Cosmopolitan last, but it was by far my favorite casino...next to Paris that is. The Paris Resort and Casino replicates a french rue (road) with real shops and cobblestone streets lining the way through.
When figuring out details of our itinerary, Alex kept consulting a super helpful website he found, Vegas Vegan. The Vegas Vegan is written by a girl who grew up in the city and knows its in and outs. She had posts about different restaurants and what they serve, plus a rating from 1-5 leaves on how veg-friendly they really are. It hasn't been updated in about a year, so its hard to guarantee everything is accurate, but we had no issues with it. We were lucky enough to stumble upon Holsteins, pictured above, on our own though. We walked through the Cosmopolitan's Chandelier Bar people watching and keeping our eyes open for vegan friendly foods on menus we passed for each restaurant-walking around the city totally starved us. Holsteins seemed from the decor that it should be totally off limits; covered in prints of cows and pigs and the cuts of meat they represent-ew. Lucky for us, we read over the menu anyway and found that they home make their very own 'urth burger', a vegan patty served up with avocado, lettuce, and sprouts. The burger was delicious! I ate mine without the bun to avoid some gluten late at night, but the patty was way better without it. You could really taste the flavor and feel the texture of the patty. It tasted baked and when cut open little chunks of real veggies actually ended up on my plate! I got sweet potato fries with the burger and had a few as well. They weren't bad, just very deep fried and not for me, so Alex got double fries that evening. There was only one other vegan option- a garden salad- on the menu. On Vegas Vegans website it would probably only get one green leaf for not having many options, but the burger is so tasty and so worth getting!
Also on the website, we found a vegan donut shop! WHAT?! Donuts? For vegans? In Vegas? For suuuuper cheap? Well then sign me up. I'm a sucker for sweets (I'm sure you've noticed), and I will never say no at least a taste of a delicious treat.
Two websites confirmed that this off-the-strip donut shop was vegan, but when we drove there (about 10 minutes away from the strip in Chinatown), we were totally confused. It looked like any other donut shop, and had no mention of anything vegan friendly. Alex was probably nervous at this point...he knows better than to offer me goodies and then refuse them. We got out of the car and headed inside.
We opened the door at Ronald's Donuts to a morning group of older couples having breakfast together in a booth and a middle-aged couple behind the counter. We gawked at the hundreds of delicious glazed and chocolate covered things in the case for several minutes before Alex finally asked, "So, we heard you guys have vegan donuts here?" The woman smiled brightly and explained that of the three long shelves of donuts, the entire top two rows (about 80% of their total product) were vegan! AWESOME! We picked out two to share on the car ride home, a glazed cinnamon twist and an apple fritter. These are obviously loaded with sugar, so go easy on 'em. I can say this: these were the best donuts I've ever had, vegan or not.
After our donut excursion we took one last walk around the strip to cash in out gambling vouchers ($0.32!). The strip is a little bit bizarre in the morning. Remnants of GIRLSGIRLSGIRLS! cards littered the streets and no one under 50 was out and about before noon. But, in the daytime you can really appreciate the architecture of the massive hotels and see just how big Vegas really is.
Delicious food and exploring a whole new place with my very favorite person was really neat. I think I'd like to go back and see the Beatles Love show and stay in Paris or Caesars Palace. Its such a convenient and entertaining place to visit, but I could never live in a place so surrounded by desert. The temperature changes alone would mess with me.
The above picture is the landscape we watched almost the entire way back home. It was a little The Hills Have Eyes-esque, but gorgeous nonetheless. There's even a ghost town on the way, Calico, that you can stop at. Next time, I guess!