The Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa

Vegan Riders – Food Options on the Ride?

We are hoping to do our first RAGBRAI next year. I know that part of the fun is all of the wonderful food that is available all along the route. We eat a whole food plant based diet and are wondering if there are other riders on this diet and, if so, did you find there were lots of options for food for you during the ride?

10 Replies

KenH, October 8, 2018 at 9:03 am

I’m not a vegan by any means but I can tell you that you would not be the only ones on this ride who are and they report being able to find what they need. The variety is not as great as it is for omnivores but you will not starve. Normally you would get plenty of advice on this but you picked the absolute deadest time of the year to ask this question on the forum. My advice is to sign up for the ride next year and then ask this question again during the April to June timeframe when the forum will be hopping and you will get plenty of advice from those who share your diet.


Niles, October 8, 2018 at 10:43 am

If not for medical reason, how about taking a “What’s heck” RAGBRAI? You lost your principles for a week but you’ll earned the badge of honor that announces to the world proudly: “I succumbed myself to temptation to glorify the whole food” Paradox? Haha.


Becky Williams, October 8, 2018 at 1:10 pm

Thanks. Will do as suggested and check back in the spring. We do
Plan to register regardless.


Becky Williams, October 8, 2018 at 1:14 pm

If not for medical reason, how about taking a “What’s heck” RAGBRAI? You lost your principles for a week but you’ll earned the badge of honor that announces to the world proudly: “I succumbed myself to temptation to glorify the whole food” Paradox? Haha.

This would not be an option for us as tempting as that approach may be. We do have health concerns, so I guess you can call it medical.


Low Rider, October 8, 2018 at 4:21 pm

This is a common question and lots has been written by vegan riders to answer questions like yours. Based on my recollection of the answers there are many vegan riders who find what they need and have a great RAGBRAI. Unfortunately the search feature for the RAGBRAI website does not return forum results. If you have time, just page backwards though the forum topics and you will find some answers. Or you can wait until closer to next year and see it come up as a question again (or you can bring it up again). I have metabolic disease issues that makes me selective about food (I’m not a vegan) and I can find enough for me (when others with my condition have posted about our concerns, we get lots of whacky advice some of which is medically dangerous from the people who can’t help themselves from opining on these forums).

My recollection about the vegan questions in the past, vegans have certain vendors they track (stalk) and other tips to have a great RAGBRAI, I just don’t know the tips nor can I retrieve them via the search feature. Sorry.

On the RAGBRAI site they had an article about 2 vegan riders:

Those riders created a vegan RAGBRAI instagram page:

These are not the exclusive wisdom that has appeared in the forums on the topic, I just don’t have the time to time travel back through the old forum topics to find more.


Low Rider, October 8, 2018 at 4:45 pm was a post from a few months ago. Rather than label me a liar for going back in time in the forums, label me curious. I was curious how hard it was to look back. Turns out, not too hard.

Good hunting.


Becky Williams, October 8, 2018 at 5:36 pm

Thank you, Low Rider, for that great information. I will do as you suggest. We are registering in any case, and I have no fear of going hungry. 😆. But I know the food is a big part of the experience for a lot of people, didn’t know if there would be enough options for it to be so for us.
I have MS and have kept it in remission for 3 years with diet, as well as many other health benefits. I know what works for me so am not susceptible to suggestions to eat what I know doesn’t serve my best interest. I’ll be there for the ride. That’s the main thing. I will be 65 years old next year and have been wanting to do this ride for 25 years. I would live on corn and spaghetti if I had to just to have the experience.

This reply was modified 7 months, 1 week ago by  Becky Williams.


Low Rider, October 8, 2018 at 8:47 pm

Hi Becky

A few years back I mentored a woman with MS for her first RAGBRAI (in addition to my medical issues I have some physical deficits). She was extremely sensitive to the heat (one day we could do a 25 mile training ride, a couple days later and a few degrees warmer, she couldn’t ride even a mile). If you are heat sensitive, you may want to look into her solution, she got from the MSAA a cooling vest (a vest with some gel packs, we timed them they cooled her for 2 – 2-1/2 hours) we had a support rider who rode with a cooler in a backpack with a spare set a gel packs we could swap after a couple hours. The gel packs also could recharge by being in water with ice for 20 minutes, so we would find vendors who would let us recharge the gel packs in their gatorade tubs as we would relax for a half hour. There are resources both inside and outside of RAGBRAI that can help overcome deficits the MS may cause you.


KenH, October 9, 2018 at 11:33 am

On this forum there is usually a lot of chatter from those on a vegetarian diet starting about May until the ride as I mentioned before. I know that a few food vendors, Carbo Hut is one, have responded with vegetarian options. I think Carbo Hut has one every day and some days they may not offer a meat option (or perhaps that was just sold out the time I remember that from this year). Some vendors like Farm Kids have an almost buffet like assembly line where you can specify the ingredients in your meal. I don’t know that a satisfying Farm Kids vegetarian breakfast could be assembled from the ingredients they typically have but if you keep your eyes open you may find a vendor here and there that can make you something that agrees with you simply by omitting the meat. If you were to contact people in the overnight towns next year you might well find that they can connect you with local families who would help you with your dinner and breakfast at least. You’ll get more advice next year but I hope we have convinced you that you should come out and ride across Iowa with us next year!

I will be 67 next year and I believe we had a 92 year old this year so the years will not prevent you from doing the ride. I cannot help you with the MS but I would guess that there are others on the ride who deal with it and if you post an MS-specific topic next year you might get some good advice that way. You can also contact the RAGBRAI help desk. Perhaps they can connect you with a resource that would be helpful. I will likely be “camping” in my motorhome again next year. To you and anyone else that needs a refrigerator or freezer to help deal with a medical condition the invitation is open for you to contact me and we can arrange to help you out. If my crew decides to tent camp just ask other motorhome owners, I would imagine that most would be willing to lend you some space in the fridge. It’s the RAGBRAI spirit to help your fellow rider after all.


Geoff Butland, October 11, 2018 at 11:47 am

Ditto on checking in here next year closer to the ride date.
My vegan daughter rode this year and she never went hungry. Carbo Hut was in every overnight town as I remember. There some Vietnamese style noodle/vegetable stands, and one place sold salads. We spent a while hunting down a “Dirt Burger” stand after seeing signs along the roadside. We found a very good vegan restaurant in Davenport.
On the road the choices were fewer, but still available. We packed Clif bars and the like just in case, but she rarely used them. The vegan places were doing great business so I would expect to see them next year. Maybe a few more!


You must be logged in to reply to this topic.


Looking for RIDES






Gatherings & Meetings

Lost and Found







Clubs, Teams & Charters