officially the worst place to eat healthy in all my world travels

I am back from my spring break vacation and I have to say . . . drum roll please . . . people from this state PLEASE DO NOT HATE ME . . . that in the 16 countries and half-dozen U.S. cities I have visited in the past year, I have officially found . . .

the worst-nutrition, hardest-to-eat-right place on at least several continents, and it is . . .

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS.

My goodness, I need a detox.   And I skipped a couple meals and tried REALLY HARD to find good salads, at least.   And took along my Greens to Go to add to water bottles (at Costco, really expensive, unfortunately, but great for travel).

Part of the problem is that my friend, Shari, whom I travel with, was told by her family not to come home unless she went to this place, Rudy’s, and ate there.   (Shari and I are food opposites, as her dad was raised by a butcher, where my mom was raised by produce dealers–in Texas, actually.)   I wasn’t going to get her disowned, of course–it’s just food, after all.   You know, when in Rome . . .

Rudy’s is a BBQ joint–in a convenience store, no lie, serving each person’s food in a Pepsi crate with a piece of paper thrown in to line it, and BBQ’d meat sold by weight and a famous creamed corn.   You feel kinda like a pig eating from a trough.   It was half an hour from San Antonio.   Not my kinda place, let’s just say–I got the coleslaw, and that’s officially the only thing close to green served there besides pickles.   I sneaked a peek at the BBQ sauce ingredients, and at least I didn’t see MSG on it, at least, though it might be hiding in some other ingredients.   There’s a memorial plaque on the wall to Doc, the founder of the joint.   I forgot to ask how the poor man died, but I have an educated guess.

So wow.   Texans being the proud folks they are (all my kids got t-shirts saying “Don’t Mess With Texas” and various chest-pounding machismo), you don’t exactly go around saying words like “vegetarian” or “plant-based diet” out loud.

I’d say Texas is the virtual opposite of California’s earth-crunchiness.   But oh my goodness, the bighearted people there.   Shari didn’t know how we’d get to Rudy’s, since all the car rentals were out of cars because of Fiesta going on.   (And don’t forget she’d get disowned if she didn’t get us to Rudy’s, so she was feeling motivated and resourceful.)

So she looked up Mormon bishops in the phone book, called one to see if he knew a single mom who wanted to drive us out there and we’d buy her dinner and pay for gas.   And get this, instead of tossing us to some single person, he AND his wife came to get us, GAVE US THEIR SON’S CAR for three days, welcomed us into their home to hang out (twice) and map out our sightseeing and give us snacks, then drove us to the airport at the end of it all and said if we come again to stay with them.   I’ll never forget that.   (I love being Mormon even more that usual at times like these–this is not my first experience being rescued by a Mormon bishop.   And Southern Mormons, well, that’s a double whammy of hospitality.   Thanks, Lee and Leisa.)

33 thoughts on “officially the worst place to eat healthy in all my world travels

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  1. Welcome to my world- the hardest place to eat right and hospitable Bishops. 🙂 I live in Nashville, but it’s still hard to find good places to eat right. There aren’t many people that understand right nutrition. But the southern hospitality is amazing!

  2. I just have to laugh at this post because I am from Texas and currently live in Austin. Texas is definitely all about the BBQ. San Antonio is probably real bad about eating right, but I think Austin is way more crunchy.

    Thanks for he laugh and hoped you enjoyed your stay despite the food 🙂

  3. ROFL!!! I had to post on this one,welcome to my world Robyn. And I’ll go you one better,Liberty,TX. If it ain’t deep fried and walked around on legs at one time they really don’t consider it food. I go to wal-mart here to try to get organic and have to tell the cashier what most of it is.Then they have to ask WHY???would I want to eat something that’s a garnish at best. I’ll tell them about how good green smoothies are,and how they’re great for you no matter if you don’t always eat so well. They just shake their heads and say “can’t do without my meat and potatoes etc.” Some have gave me looks like,your one of those radicial tree huggers aren’t you. Have a great day Robyn, Oh and Houston is a lot better to find healthier places to eat.Not quite as good as Austin though.

  4. Elizabethtown, KY isn’t any better. I was there for spring break and just got back a few days ago. Everything is in a box, can and I mean EVERYTHING. My parents eat bacon out of a box…that doesn’t even need to be in the fridge! The only store around there is a Super Wal Mart and a Kroger which is only a bit better but so expensive. They also just got a Sam’s.

    Good News: It opened the weekend we were there and I found some organic spinach. Also Good news: My mom bought a Blendtec. I showed her how to do a green smoothie with MOSTLY fruit. I was gagging it was so sweet from just fruit and a small handful of spinach. She thought it was bitter and guess what she had to add? Equal.

  5. I must add about Houston… My friend just moved down there in January and they have an organic produce co-op that is suppose to be amazing. She has sent me videos of her share and it’s massive…it’s expensive compared to CA where I am…but you can’t get that in KY!

    Here is the link: http://rawfullyorganic.com/store/

    She is a whole food vegan that eats about 80% raw. She loves it there.

    Perhaps you can check out the site.

  6. I see you’ve already had several people say the same thing, but I was going to put in a plug for Houston 🙂 It has (had?) the distinction of being the fattest city in the nation, but it’s also got several farmer’s markets, health food stores, and great restaurants. Then again, I wasn’t trying to be vegetarian when I was there. I was leaning toward vegetarian before we moved to Houston, but dropped it when I started working.

    My favorite restaurant in Houston was Texadelphia — Texas-ified cheesesteak sandwiches. . . . yeah, sounds almost like Rudy’s for health benefits!!

  7. HI Robyn..

    oh my I died laughin at the post! I live in west texas (cattle country for sure) and it sometimes seems most people here think “if it ain’t meat.. it ain’t food” LOL. I must say that the people here are nice though 🙂

    I am new to the veggie lifestyle… just three weeks in.. and feeling great! Actually went to eat at a mexican rest. yesterday and was able to order spinach quesadilas… i was shocked it was on the menu!

    a friend sent me your website! I love it! esp the videos!

    have a great day!

    ruthie

  8. This was TOO funny Robyn, mainly because my wife’s name is Lisa!

    Meghan, we used to live there too, and Jason’s Deli in Franklin,TN beside Chik-Fil-A and Thoroughbred 20 cinema is THE BEST SALAD BAR you will find in 100 mile radius…try them out, and you will be a convert…and oddly their home office is in Texas. 😉

  9. We never travel to a city without first checking Google maps (or some website like Happy Cow) for vegetarian restaurants. I was curious, so I did a search in San Antonio.

    For a city of almost a million, you’d think that several hits would come up. There is one 100% veg restaurant, called Green Vegetarian Cuisine & Coffee. They even have a raw nut hummus.

    A search on Google Maps for “Health Food near San Antonio, TX” was also pretty bleak, but there were a few options for health food stores.

    A normal Google search for “Raw Food San Antonio” turned up a raw food meetup group with 120 members. There are also vegan and vegetarian meetup groups with 200 members total. I suppose if you’d known ahead of time how hard it would be to eat well, you could have tried contacting someone through there.

  10. Well, it looks like I’m the only one here commenting who actually lives in San Antonio. After reading the post I can say that I 100% agree with you. Around most people I just tell them I’m a health nut and see what their reaction is. And my husband is doing pretty good with letting them know I don’t eat much meat at all and I’m lactose intolerant.

    But yeah we had some friends who wanted to go to Rudy’s one time after going to Sea World and even though I’d never been there, I had to say “no thanks” and we went to Subway instead. I try to teach these friends about healthiness and although I feel at the time that they are “getting it”, I’m not completely convinced. But yeah, there is only one Whole Foods in the whole city. And then there are 2 Sun Harvest stores- not exactly in my part of town though. But the grocery stores are doing pretty good at trying to cater to everyone (vegans included). So yeah, eating out we do have slim options and we are so excited for a Jamba juice that is being built near us!

    By the way, what was down here for you? Just visiting friends? Checking out Fiesta? We haven’t gone to Fiesta yet- we just heard that there is a lot of drunk people and that didn’t really turn us on.

  11. We definitely weren’t there for Fiesta (it just happened to be going on) and we didn’t have friends there–just had always wanted to visit San Antonio! We did all the downtown stuff, Tower of the Americas, Alamo and Imax movie, River Walk, Ripleys and wax museum, etc., went to Fredericksburg, and of course . . . Rudy’s (sigh).

    I did have one really good thing–vegetarian fajitas with corn tortillas at Rosie’s (or Rosita’s?) on the River Walk.

  12. I cant believe it.. i tried my first green smoothie.. i didnt have kale. just spinach.. and oh my its soooo good! i am so shocked! My kids even like it.. my littlest said.. “i need some more of that!”..

    woooo whooo my kids eating spinach! yipeeee!

    thanks green smoothie gal.. you rock!

  13. How nice to find a raw food advocate within the Mormon faith! Since I’ve been eating raw [only one month now], the Word of Wisdom has taken on new meaning.

    Anyway, your adventures in San Antonio, which happens to be a favorite city of mine, were delightfully described.

    Thanks for your generous help through your blog and website [and YouTube . . . which I really love!]. You are the best! If you ever get out towards Boston, you won’t have to call a Mormon bishop. Jen and I would be happy to host you!

    –Ken

  14. I am from Phoenix, which has lots of healthy options…Then, 12 yrs. ago we moved to OK. We are “weird” to almost everyone we meet. We do have a friendship with a family from Malaysia and they are into healthy eating.

    Not only are people very protective about their meat and potatoes, but there seems to be a “need” in people to deep-fry EVERYTHING…No kidding,,,,Ever heard of deep-fried twinkies??, deep-fried oreos, deep-fried COKE?, nevermind the fries and deep-fried turkey! Uuuugh!! Fortunately, many places have added decent salad bars in their restaurants, which is helpful in skirting around meat and rich foods.

    For fun, give Louisiana a try. Believe me, you’ll find people eating things you’d never have thought of. Crawfish, is just ONE example….Ick!!!

    If you search for healthiER options, you can find them. Typically, they won’t be cheap, but they can be found.

    Vanetta

  15. Robyn,

    I know you’ve said before that it is best to eat three distinct meals, with time between them. You’ve also said that it is good to ‘chew’ your smoothies, not chug them. Those are opposing goals for me. I got to work at 8:30 and just now finished my hot pink smoothie (11:45). It kept me satisfied the entire morning, because I was eating it the whole morning! Is it just fine to eat this way, or would it be best to train myself to drink it in less than a half hour? It’s hard to stomach it all at once, and then if I do drink it all at once, I’m not satisfied very long.

  16. I live in Houston (the outskirts actually) and must say I agree about San Antonio… However, Houston is another side of that coin. I have a growing list of 12 totally Vegan restaurants in Houston and the local and organic produce is readily available… unlike SA. I feel bad for those in small towns who struggle with this issue. We are TOTALLY SPOILED!!!!

    Lynn

  17. Katie, if that solves a problem for you, by all means, DO IT. I have just been reading about the master hormone LEPTIN, and how we eventually cause ourselves some problems if we are constantly eating and not giving those organs a rest. (Recent “experts” tell us to eat 5-6 small meals a day.) The jury is still out on this issue, but I do think that historically healthy cultures ate three meals a day, not this snacking all day thing.

    That said, individuals vary, and if this is what works for you, ignore a little cognitive dissonance and follow your intuition. And be sure to give your body a 12-hour break from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. even if you are stretching your meals out like that.

  18. So… speaking of the south and the bad foods, I am very interested in the Master Phase cleanse through Arise and Shine. Any tips or anything? Should I do the whole 4 weeks to start and are colonics necessary everyday during it?

  19. Meghan,

    There was a post a few months back about the Arise and Shine cleanse. I don’t know if you have already seen it, but if not then check it out!

    Robyn-

    I am 2 months pregnant and seeing a midwife. Today we went in and had a checkup and she was really worried that I wasn’t getting enough protein. I guess I had assumed that since she was into herbal remedies and natural stuff that she would be really aware of nutrition. Anyway, I still think I am doing find with protein- but do you think I should be eating any extra animal proteins than before-? (minimal). I do sometimes eat some turkey on a sandwich but I don’t really seek meat out- I just figured since greens have so much protein and I have plenty of them regularly -that I would be fine. What do you think?

  20. Tricia, congrats! Check out greensmoothiegirl.com/plant-protein-source.com for more thoughts about that, but the World Health Organization states that 5-10% protein is ideal, so this American obsession with 20% animal protein is unfounded even if you haven’t studied Campbell’s work in The China Study. I ate no meat with my last three pregnancies and they (the pregnancies AND the babies) were very healthy, and the babies grew up to be kids with high IQ’s.

    You might also look back at my blogs from late last summer summarizing statistics on vegetarians and plant-based diets.

  21. What a timely story.

    My husband went to San Antonio last month and ate at Rudy’s. His account was nowhere as descriptive as yours but I cringed just listening to him tell me about the food. I made sure he ate lots of greens when he got back!

  22. Robyn,

    I just (three weeks ago) moved from San Antonio To Mesa, AZ. I loved it there but you’re right, eating out isn’t so easy. I love the salad bar at Jason’s Deli and the one at Super Salad is okay too. If you ever head this way let me know. I have 24 orange trees loaded with oranges that are great for juicing if anyone wants to pick their own! Take care, Monica

  23. Gidday. I’m from Australia and although been eathing very healthy food since a child have now come across the RAWfood Diet from a terrific guy PaulNison.com. He is a RAWfood chef, speaker, author living in CA and talks about eating only ‘during daylight hours’ and has put out I think his fourth book. He has fantastic receipes and lots of knowledge.

    I’ve just found a distributor Down Under for the BlendTec and am keen to use it.

    I was thrilled to find all the different information from greensmoothiegirl.com and am feeling fantastic on just raw foods and drinks.

    I can’t imagine how difficult it is to eat well in US. I’ve been there a couple of times and have been aghast at the so called food your restaurants sell. Here in Australia we have amazing organic local markets

    Thanks for all you do. I’m so glad to have found a really progressive family like yours I can model from. I have two gorgeous children whom I’m also educating to eat raw.

    With much gratitude Dinah from DownUnder.

  24. We were on a mission to Texas for 1 1/2 years and lived in several towns, San Antonio being one of them. I have to admit that San Antonio was the only town we were in (and we were in Western and Southern Texas) that we found a health food store. Even the produce section in the grocery stores have very little selections and farmer’s markets are unheard of. I had to lose weight when I got home.

  25. Man, the worst place I tried to eat WAS in California! I couldn’t find an actual salad to save my life! All iceberg lettuce and maybe tomato. I was so disappointed, because I had heard CA was crunchy, but it must depend on where you are. There was a health food store that carried a few natural things, but overall, we were in big trouble there!

  26. I live in Eugene, OR – the healthy local and organic food is amazing and incredibly accessible here.

  27. Well, Robyn – you haven’t been to Abilene TX. San Antonio is practically the Bay Area by comparison. I do know what i’m talking about! I’ve learned to live and eat green in Abilene – no easy task. Thanks for reminding me what a monumental job it’s been. Big pat on my own back!

    We are looking to move to San Antonio because two of our kids and all of our grandkids live there. And because they have Whole Foods there. You can always shop & eat at Whole Foods! Too bad y’all didn’t think of that. Rudy’s is the must-do experience for visitors, and yes, it’s pretty disgusting.

    San Antonio is only 1.5 hrs from Austin – the real haven in TX for us. Lots of great farmers markets in Austin. As close to Be-zerkeley as it gets in TX.

    I submit that Abilene far surpasses San Antonio as the worst city for eating healthy and should really get the title. San Antonio is easy! Try Abilene for a real challenge!!

    Best!!

    — suz 😀

  28. Hi ya’ll. I live in Brookeland, Texas – no grocery store, health food store or farmers’ markets for me! The closest town has a moderate sized grocery store that sells no organic and a Wal-Mart that sells a few things. The ones I want – kale and a few others – do not come in organic so I have to buy conventional and wash them. Still not good but better than nothing! The town does have a health food store though. Actually almost every small town around us has a health food store – that sells supplements, homeopathic etc. but very little food – like organic dairy at one (:-() and some frozen organic veggies and fruits, kefir, nuts, etc. at that other along with a fair selection of packaged foods.

    Yep – Texans love their beef! My husband is a steak eater – hard to cook for him every day without gagging. But I LOVE Texas – born and raised!

    Thanks Robyn for all you do – you continue to inspire me as you have for going on 2 years.

  29. Awe I hope San Antonio didn’t spoil Texas for ya. Please come and visit Austin we have several raw food sit down and juice bars/restaurants. I am traveling to San Antonio in July and I found one vegetarian resturant online. In the past me and the hubby search out grocierie stores for fruit and veggies to eat while on vacation. If you come to Austin it would be a treat of a vacation. Please look up The daily Juice they are our first raw food resturant. Plus we have a wonderful Vegan/raw potluck group that meets thruout the month. Austin is the raw foodiest retreat!

  30. The healthiest city that I have ever been to is Austin, Texas. Many restaurants there even serve organic. My son is a chef there and he definately knows all the places that I can eat and stay healthy. Best city for me to be a veggie! Love it!

  31. Soooo….Robyn!! You have a great thing going here!! A very nice lead-in to an amazing opportunity!! GreenPolkaDotBox.com is absolutely ingenious!! Who cares about living in the most unhealthy city! Your friend, Rod, has come up with the neatest idea to revolutionize grocery shopping, esp. for people like us. His brilliance takes my breath away — i see so much potential… Thank you for posting it. Thank him for coming up with it.

  32. There’s a reason San Antonio was ranked in the top ten on the list of America’s fattest cities. My secret pleasure was to watch what was in people’s shopping cart and then look at the size of their behind.

    Austin is much better if you are looking for healthy. They have a much better Whole Foods than SA.

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