Hands down, food is one of the best parts of traveling. But if you have dietary restrictions, it can be a little tricky to find food that fits your diet without making it too much of a hassle for yourself as well as your companions. Nevertheless, eating vegan is very much possible while traveling—you have to know how to make it easier:
Find vegan-friendly restaurants ahead of time
Once you have your itinerary planned out, it’s time to find restaurants such as Life Bistro that can cater to your vegan diet needs. It can be incredibly frustrating to find a vegan-friendly restaurant on the spot, more so when you finally settle on a choice and find out that their ‘vegan-friendly’ options are basically a lifeless salad and some fries. Hence, it’s best to research restaurants ahead of time. Scout for vegan-friendly restaurants in the area and ensure that their vegan options fit your diet well.
Research the local cuisine
If you’re traveling in a very unfamiliar place or country, do your research about the local cuisine, particularly animal-free dishes. It’s not always feasible to find a vegan-friendly restaurant where you’re going, and eating at restaurants can drain your travel funds quite quickly. That said, you may have to eat at food stalls and street-side restaurants to regain your energy. And if you don’t know much about the local cuisine, it will likely be difficult to find food that fits your vegan diet.
The good news is that most—if not all—ethnic cuisines have dishes that are entirely vegan or vegetarian. When traveling in a different country, all you have to do is ask for an animal-free dish, and they will most likely have it. Otherwise, you can request to take the animal products out of the dish when ordering food.
Pack your own food
It’s not always easy to find grocery stores that carry vegan-friendly food items similar to vegan-friendly restaurant options. Don’t take the risk of going hungry on your trip. Pack your vegan favorites, such as energy bars, homemade peanut butter, dried veggies, and instant oatmeal, to ensure that you always have something to eat wherever you may go. If feasible, you can also bring an electric kettle or single-serving blenders to make food-prep easier while on the go.
Packing your own food is also a great way to prepare for unexpected changes in your trip. If, for example, your group is going to a different spot (that doesn’t have vegan options) for dinner, you can order something remotely vegan and add your packed food for extra nutrition.
Shop for produce
Some grocery stores don’t carry vegan-friendly processed foods, but they will always have produce, so make sure to shop for your fresh staples whenever you can. Better yet, check out local farmers’ markets, health food shops, and dry marketplaces to find the freshest produce as well as some vegan staples like hummus, guacamole, and quinoa.
Consider your accommodation
When traveling as a vegan, you will most likely have to cook your own food at your hotel. That said, it’s best to book accommodation that has a small kitchen with a microwave or a hotplate you can use to whip up frozen vegan meals or reheat leftovers from the restaurant. If the hotel or Airbnb offers vegan-friendly menu options, then much better!
Learn common phrases in the local language
If you’re traveling to a country where you don’t know the local language, don’t skip learning the common phrases that will help you ask about ingredients and request to leave out animal products from your meal. If you want, you can also print out translation cards that will indicate that you don’t eat food that has animal products in them. However, make sure to have an English-speaking local check your cards if they are properly translated and easily understood by the locals.
Choose an airline that serves vegan-friendly meals
When taking a long-haul flight, fly with an airline that serves vegan-friendly meals and snacks. Most airlines allow passengers to request an in-flight vegan meal in advance, but it’s best to request your special meal right after booking your flight. Otherwise, you will need to call in your request at least 24 hours before your departure.
Maintaining a vegan lifestyle is no doubt challenging when you’re traveling, more so if your destinations have limited vegan options. But with these strategies, you can easily keep your diet in check without taking the enjoyment away from your trip.
What are your experiences when it comes to traveling while maintaining a vegan lifestyle? Share your story with us in the comments below!
Bonnie is always on the road with some amazing adventures ahead. Her favorite continent is South America and she’s passionate about culture-focused traveling and ethical and sustainable tourism. During her time in university as a research assistant for a sociology professor, she realized she can’t fully understand cultures from a safe distance. She quit her job to become a full-time “voluntourist,” which brings her to places where she can immerse in local communities and support their causes. On top of writing, one of Bonnie’s priorities is offering women advice on how to stay safe while solo backpacking.