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Sundance Scurvy

Never has there been a worse time to be vegan than whilst in attendance at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. I went for fun and as a blogger for Mediabistro and with a group of 10 ladies that help make up the NYU Writer’s Lab West. We went for five nights and six days and I lost at least as many lbs (or were they stolen?!) and that might not seem like a big deal but when you’re li’l to begin with that could put you in the embarrassing position of currently weighing in in the double digits and that’s just not right or good for my arm wrestling challenging ways.

Now, the problem with group travel is always that your individual needs have a tendency to get lost for the greater good, but when you (and only you) have a complex set of dietary needs like any vegan does, this gets tricky. The particular problem with Sundance is that yeah, you see movies, but mostly you go to parties. These parties are usually in restaurants, or are catered by restaurants, or are catered by a bar. Most people can eat the free food and drink the free drinks so they see no need to obtain additional meal-age. I could not. This was sad for me.

I gladly passed up things like dates wrapped in bacon, buffalo burgers, buffalo chili, and buffalo stew, but when I happened upon the only vegetarian restaurant in Park City (it isn’t even listed in Happy Cow’s guide), no one would go with me and it wasn’t an option to dine alone because it was far enough away to warrant the rental car, and the car was for 5 people to share. Oof that smarts. I had never been in a situation before where I was so hungry, so under-fed, and so tired that if it looked like it could be vegan I ate it. No questions asked (lookin’ at you questionable bread and guacamole). I’m not proud of this, but in six days I ate maybe four meals, two of which were at a place called The Eating Establishment which was almost as good as it sounds, and I’m not sure any’d be considered complete by any grouping, pyramid or chart.

So, in conclusion, if I go again next year, I’ll have to better prepare for this culinary underprivilege because the malnutrition combined with the sub-zero temps and lack of sleep left me extra-vulnerable to contracting what I am calling Sundance Disease and has left me in bed for a solid week from where I laptop to you now.


  1. Comment by


    on #

    Similar things happen to me when i have to travel to trade shows for work. I learned to bring a suitcase full of instant oatmeal and some “just add water” type soups and meals. Not the healthiest times, but it’s better then not eating! The first trade show i did, i think i lost almost 10lbs in a week from not eating AND the physical exhaustion.

  2. Comment by


    on #

    I went to Sundance for three years in a row, and I usually managed okay. The grocery store near the Holiday Village Cinemas has a startling number of vegan options, and I have gotten through 10-day stints on fruit, soy milk and oatmeal for breakfast, frozen vegan burritos with more fruit and maybe some carrots for lunch, and something similar for dinner, or maybe a frozen Amy’s Kitchen Dinner (salad is doable, too, though putting together a good one often takes more time than I have). Microwaving a quick meal back at the condo has made Sundance very easy for me (you can even eat your burrito on the go, if necessary), as have portable snacks like Clif’s Nectar Bars, all of which you can buy locally.

    For those rare occasions when I couldn’t make it back to the condo, parties often have vegan hors d’oeuvres, like carrots, chips, hummus and salsa, and some of the Main St. restaurants have featured items like veggie fajitas (Zona Rosa) or even tofu dishes at a couple of the asian restaurants.

  3. Comment by


    on #

    Ugh. Sorry to read this. That sucks. I’m about to go on a trip to Disneyworld in Florida and I’m scared I’ll be trying to make a square meal out of icees and hot pretzels (if they even have those at the park).

  4. Comment by


    on #

    Next time, go to “Nacho Mamas”. They have several veggie dishes that can easily be made vegan by omitting the cheese (try the: “Big John’s Veggie Burrito” – its guaranteed to fill you up!). And everyone will like this place – they serve large portions. Its my favorite restaurant in Park City (and it is the favorite of many of the locals I know).

  5. Comment by

    Laura Leslie

    on #

    Keramel, there’s actually a lot of vegan options at Disney World. If you check Google you’ll find several vegan guides to what you can eat at the parks. They’re very concerned about food allergies there, so pretty much every place has a book that lists every ingredient of every dish. They’re more than happy to pull it out and let you take a look.

    The Magic Kingdom has the fewest options, but even there you can eat the popcorn and find a meal at a few of the restaurants. (I think it was the Liberty Tree Tavern that had a really good hummus sandwich that was easily made vegan).

    Epcot has a ton of options, especially the restaurants in “Japan” (veggie sushi, vegan snow cones) and “Morocco” (a full Middle Eastern meal: hummus, tabbouleh, etc). Animal Kingdom has less, but they (like all the parks) are moving toward offering more healthy options, so you can get fruit and vegetables at a lot of the little snack stands.

    And there are tons of Disney-related restaurants where you can call ahead and request a vegan meal (along with a reservation). I had an amazing meal at Boma at the Animal Kingdom Lodge–the chef came out and told me what in the buffet was vegan (a lot; it was African-inspired) and then he made me a ton of special dishes since he seemed impressed that I was an ethical vegan. He actually brought out far more food than I could eat and it was all amazing.

    Downtown Disney also has options; I asked ahead and Wolfgang Puck’s made me a really good pasta dish.

    So, yeah–do some research, make some plans, and there’s no reason to starve at Disney World.

    Andrea–I’m sorry you had such a hard time at Sundance! Luna Bars and those soups where you just add water have been my life-savers in such situations.

  6. Comment by


    on #

    Wow! Thank you, Laura! I’m going to bring your tips with me on my trip!!!

  7. Comment by

    al oof

    on #

    also re: disney – you -can- bring your own food. you just have to sneak it in. that said, i had little problem finding vegan food at the magic kingdom (they have vegan burgers at at least a few of the counter places, most notably in tomorrowland) and had 0 luck finding anything but a 25 dollar buffet in animal kingdom.

  8. Comment by


    on #

    Sorry you had such a bad Vegan experience in Park City.

    There are actually a number of veg options, but you have to know where to find them:

    In Prospector Square near the Mariott (on the bus route) there’s a little place called Cafe Trang which serves Asian food that has a number of clearly marked vegan options on its menu. Also on main street The Taste of Saigon can do a few of the dishes vegan.

    Also on main street there’s a Sushi place where you can get a few vegan sushi options.

    The best bet by far though is to have a condo where you can cook. The Albertson’s (which is on the bus route) has a big natural foods section. And while organic produce is very scarce you can get enough good vegan food not to waste away. (Amy’s Soups are always a great lunch option).

    I think the big this is it’s a mistake for anyone to go to Sundance and try to sustain on the restaurants. The options aren’t great in general, they’re often over crowded and expensive, and very few have good veg options.

  9. Comment by


    on #

    but when I happened upon the only vegetarian restaurant in Park City (it isn’t even listed in Happy Cow’s guide),

    Hey, Can you tell us the name of this place or where it is? We’re traveling to Park City this week and it would be great to know!

  10. Comment by


    on #

    So sorry, I can’t recall the name, but it’s right by the Marriott Hotel on Sidewinder Dr. and it’s Vietnamese…let me know what I missed!

  11. Comment by


    on #

    Hi – I am moving there at the end of the month and I’ve done a lot of research into the menus in Park City. Here is what I have found for anyone else that needs this info – these places all have some vegan options:

    350 Main – from the MENU DE SANTÉ:
    BBQ Tempeh, Jamine Rice Cakes (probably vegan – ask!)

    Bangkok Thai on Main

    Butcher Chop House
    Vegan Roasted Veg Soup, Onion Rings, Hummus, Pizza w/o cheese?

    Vegetable Tamales with Seitan (expensive, ask if these are vegan)
    Salad – Stuffed Avocado with Marinated Vegatables

    Good Karma Restaurant –
    Indian, Persian, Japanese Noodle

    100% veg broth, tofu bento or coconut encrusted tofu with stir fry veg. Pineapple sorbet

    Spencer’s Smokin’ Grill
    Smokin’ Tofu and Fire Roasted Vegetables (not sure if the bbq sauce on the table is vegan)

    Squatters Roadhouse Grill
    Brewery with vegan stuff actually marked on the menu
    Lots of choices – charbroiled tofu tacos, tempeh salad, veggie burger, edamae hummus, vegan tofu scramble for brunch

    Taste of Saigon – Vietnamese

    Morning Ray’s Cafe
    Breakfast and Lunch – Tofu Rancheros is excellent

    Cafe Trang

  12. Comment by


    on #

    Also try the food at Reef’s, out in Kimball Junction. Delicious Vegan options: Hummus, Falafel, Couscous, Salads and the most divine Cardamom Tea.

  13. Comment by


    on #

    Heh, bring mixed nuts and dried fruit otherwise known as trail mix. Calorie and nutrition dense and easy to eat. You can also buy bars (not those god aweful energy bars, but the other kind, well you can eat the energy bars if you want to) though I only buy those when i have decent coupons for them and a specific event to use them at.

    I eat ezekial bread and that is also something you could bring with(its made out of different sprouted organic grains) Along with some fresh fruit like organic apples. I also bring some organic romaine hearts to eat, they don’t need to be in a salad, they taste fine right off the head. Because its organic the need to wash is reduced (and because they are heads, the more dirty outer leaves are gone)

    But then the only events I go to are scifi-cons within my own town (though that is 8 miles away, I just bike back and forth) and weekend long camping trips with extended family. The latter really makes you learn to bring everything you might need, and regarding food, you might use it. That is a cooler with some frozen water bottles(to keep it cool, and when they start to thaw, water to drink) if you wish to bring fresh, perishable or frozen food.

    But for a few days one can just about live on trail mix without much trouble.(as long is its a healthy kind, not a M&M kind or something) Though for teeth health, bringing along some crunchy fresh fruit or vegetable for follow up after trail mix snacking is good.