If, as a vegan, you end up in Destin, I will help you out by highlighting some of the places you will be able to eat. But I’m telling you up front, it’s a challenge…
The most obvious choice is Whole Foods Market, which was still being built the last time I was in Destin back in 2015. While it is glorious and new and easy to get to from the main road, it is not vegan friendly.
I struggled to find something to eat there, that would provide for my protein needs. I had to rely strictly on the buffet, but even then, it was nearly impossible to find grains I could eat. The options with rice or pasta all contained meat or dairy.
Briefly, I thought there was a ray of hope when I walked over to the sandwich bar, as there was a veggie sandwich (Le Provencal) on the menu that I could have ordered without the cheese. But when I tried to order it, I was told they no longer have that option available- not just that day, but permanently.
The guy then suggested I try their Caprese Classico sandwich instead, as he informed me that their pesto sauce does not contain dairy. I then delicately explained to him a Caprese Classico sandwich without the cheese is ultimately just a big piece of toast with a tomato on it.
That’s the thing: People who aren’t vegan fundamentally don’t understand how vegans get their protein:
Veggies, fruits, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds.
I made things work, but was ultimately limited to spending $14 a pop at the Whole Foods buffet; surviving mainly on tofu and beans.
Of course, there is a Mellow Mushroom on the main drag, as well. So that was the next place I took my family in the 2017 Toyota Prius. That’s an easy go to for me when I’m travelling. I experimented with their veggie burger for the first time.
I was very pleased, though I did have to cheat a little, knowing there were traces of egg whites in the burger. The reason this didn’t wreck my conscience is because I’m not a vegan because of animal rights. I follow a 0% cholesterol lifestyle for the health benefits- and I know that the cholesterol of an egg is in the yolk, not the egg whites.
There’s also a place called The Dig, which for a vegan, serves in the likeness of a juice bar. That’s where I met Aaron Sundstrom, who is another fellow male vegan. He switched to the plant-based lifestyle after he survived a bout with cancer.
Perhaps the easiest place for me to dine and got a solid meal was Don Pedros Cantina, which is on the main road but off to the back and easy to miss.
I ordered the veggie fajitas, minus the sour cream and cheese.
So there you have it. Vegans typically don’t end up in Destin. It’s not an inviting place for us, when it comes to food.
It’s not Destin’s fault. Destin is simply catering to who’s showing up.
Apparently, the vegans are visiting other cities instead, like Pensacola.
In fact, the next time I visit Florida on vacation, I will be staying in Pensacola but will take a day trip to Destin.
I get it. I am an intelligent guy. I understand how the free market works…
The reason that Destin, Florida is still not an easy place for a vegan to eat, as I became aware back in December 2015, is not the fault of the city. Instead, it’s simply demographics.
I theorize it like this: Destin is mostly comprised of older, retired residents who live there during the winter, then rent out their condos to young families (like mine) during the warmer months.
The majority of people either living in or coming through Destin are demographically, by design, not the target market for the vegan lifestyle.
Compare that to Pensacola, just about an hour away, which I deemed as very vegan friendly back in May 2015.
Pensacola isn’t a tourist town, the way Destin undeniably is. Instead, Pensacola is an actual city with established residents. Pensacola has employers that run businesses that go beyond the scope of tourism. Pensacola has spunk. It has character.
Destin, not so much. Destin is simply a beautiful place to stay when you want to enjoy a vacation at the beach. It’s plenty of fun, for sure. But Destin is not an environment that typically attracts the vegan type.
But hey, I made it work. If you’re a vegan who ends up in Destin, you can survive too. I just have a feeling you’ll need to bookmark this blog post to serve as your guide.
And if you’re a vegetarian, like my wife and kids are, it’ll be that much easier for you.