If you live in the UK (or France) you have probably heard of PGL. This chain of adventure holiday sites is best known for residentials for school trips and young children, although I visited a site last week as staff for work. I wanted to share my experience with being a vegan at PGL so that it can hopefully help someone else!
I stayed at PGL Barton Hall, which is located in Torquay, Devon. I was there for a week and had 3 meals a day so I experienced a lot of meal times! Although the food was generally of a good standard and plentiful, the vegan offerings left something to be desired. So here are my tips to staying healthy(ish) and happy whilst away!
*Although this is written about PGL, my tips are applicable to any centre with mass catering!
- Choose the healthy options. This is the best way to try and get some nutrients into you, even if your efforts are minor! I’m talking choose brown bread over white bread, always have a side of vegetables and choose your breakfast wisely (more on this later).
- Always take fruit! At every meal time there should be fruit on offer. My recommendation would be to eat at least one piece at the meal and take one for a snack later. Aside from this, fruit and vegetables are scarce so make the most of them.
- Utilise the salad bar. This may be optimistic, but always check the salad bar to see if there is anything of use! Whilst it is a good idea to get some extra veggies (tomato, lettuce and cucumber), you may be lucky enough to get some extra protein such as mixed beans or couscous!
- Think before you season. To be completely honest, the food at PGL is bland. This is even worse if you are vegan and your dinner consists of chips and peas! It can be easy to grab 3 packets of salt to try and make this palatable, but this will do nothing good for you. Consuming high levels of sodium can put pressure on your kidneys, raise your blood pressure and cause bloating. Instead choose lower-salt seasoning options such as sauces or pepper.
- Choose breakfast with care. Early in the morning it can be easy to choose something filled with simple carbs and sugar such as white toast and jam. However, you can start your day off much better than this by checking the allergens board and seeing what other options there are. I recommend baked beans (protein) with a couple of slices of brown toast (low GI option) and a banana. Add some mushrooms or hash browns if you are feeling extra hungry!
- Drink plenty of water. This one is pretty obvious and applies to everyone, water fills you up, keeps you hydrated and can increase your energy when you’re tired out!
- Bring snacks. As you are reading this, hopefully you have decided to prepare yourself in advance. I would recommend packing some high protein snack bars for between meals (I bought Trek Protein Flapjacks) and any other foods that you might need. Bear in mind that storage and preparation facilities for your own foods (e.g. a fridge) are likely to be non-existent, so keep perishable foods to a minimum.
- Supplement if necessary. If you are staying at PGL for longer than a week, its possible you might start experiencing deficiencies. If you are concerned about this then bring a supplement with you to take. I recommend taking a specific vegan one containing vit D, B12 and calcium etc!
Hopefully these tips will help you to navigate being a vegan at PGL. Remember that if in doubt, don’t be afraid to ask the kitchen staff if there is any vegan option available, or to call the centre before you arrive to discuss your needs. I hope you have an awesome trip and enjoy yourself!