Best Tips For Travelling Vegans
Every individual has their own reason for adopting a vegan or plant-based diet. Whether it's animal rights, health, or environmental reasons, travelling does not have to compromise your values. If you're a vegan traveller, like me, you might be thinking, “how do I travel the world while sticking to a vegan diet?”
When someone learns I am a vegan traveller, the most common reaction is “that must be hard.” In truth, it really isn't. Vegan travel is no different from other little difficulties you may encounter on any travel adventure. You learn to overcome them, and the next time you're in a similar situation, it's much easier.
What Is Vegan Travel
Before going on any major vacation, vegan travellers will most likely want to know about vegan foods in the area. There are a lot of misconceptions out there about vegan foods. One of them being that vegan food tastes bland or empty.
Vegans try to cater to omnivores, and many vegan foods are just a little different than traditional foods. Travelling as a vegan has its downsides. I will have to refrain from eating at chain restaurants, which I don't mind at all.
I enjoy choosing where I eat and exploring my new area with a new restaurant or grocery store. However, I have to be very careful where I buy produce, and many grocery stores do not carry enough vegan-friendly ingredients. My first stop on a vegan adventure will usually be the closest Walmart or Safeway.
So, what exactly does it mean to be a vegan traveller? Travelling vegan is the practice of consuming a plant-based diet while away from home and in places other than vegan-friendly restaurants, so you can truly eat like a local.
While you can find many options for places to eat vegan, it is essential to research the vegan-friendly locations and ingredients that are most likely to be available so that you can make the most of your travel experience.
The Basics Of Vegan Travel
Be aware of your ingredients. There is no shortage of vegan products in North America, but it's easy to get some false sense of security and forget that cows produce not all soy products. Soylent is a favourite of mine, but many of my soy products in the form of breakfast bars and other snacks came from a well-known brand committed to plant-based foods. Eat all the vegetables.
When travelling outside of North America, vegetarians and vegans often face similar challenges when they eat out. Most of these restaurants don't know how to cook tofu or other tofu-based foods. Many people don't realize that the water added to tofu production is actually salt, and most traditional vegetarian food items use animal-derived oils as an ingredient.
Vegan travel is quite the niche. It can be hard to find vegan products or options, particularly if you are only going to a destination once or twice a year. Fortunately, I recently spoke with a few experts on vegan travel to find some advice that can be applied to the vegan traveller on any trip.
My first travel suggestion is to buy some Tofurkey for the plane. While I am not 100% sold on this particular product, it's a pretty good staple to have if you plan on visiting a whole host of different countries. If it doesn't seem familiar to you, it's made from soy products. The Bestseller List at Amazon.com lists it as one of the best veggie meat products.
Make informed choices. When you're packing, check the ingredient list on all the items you're bringing with you. If you find something you're not comfortable eating, like nuts, carry an emergency (vegan) snack, like crackers, as well as peanut butter. If you want some veggie sticks and hummus to snack on, make sure they're vegan.
Always carry an unopened vegan emergency kit with you, in your suitcase and in your backpack (mine contains these essentials). Avoid eating out and take advantage of your hotel's kitchen or a local restaurant (at least in the United States). There's no better way to see the food and culture of a country than to eat it. You can find vegan options, and once you've found them, you're travelling the world.
Research Using Pinterest And Instagram
People often tend to think of vegan travel as an extreme. Don't get me wrong. It can be challenging. However, at times, it's also gratifying. If you need some tips for travel veganism, I highly suggest using Pinterest and Instagram as much as possible. Your research needs to be in your own hands.
Look for ideas around vegan-friendly destinations, countries, food, and accommodations. You also have to be strategic. The internet is an amazing tool. However, it can be more of a hindrance than a helpful tool. Use it to make sure your money is wisely spent. For example, Google “stay at hostels for vegan travellers.” You will get a list of names and locations. Go on a mission to contact them.
One of the best things you can do to prepare for your next vegan adventure is to research and use the proper tools and apps to prepare yourself before travelling. I did this, and it helped me with many of my first trips, and I am convinced it is equally important for all travellers. One tool that I would recommend checking into is Pinterest.
Nowadays, many people can't survive without their phones. Therefore, using Pinterest is perfect for those travellers who don't have access to a computer. The site lets you search through thousands of popular vegan recipes, hotels, restaurants, bars, and all other kinds of destinations to determine what might be a vegan-friendly or vegan-friendly-friendly environment.
Find Local Vegans Through Online Groups
The internet is a great tool for finding local, vegetarian-friendly restaurants, grocery stores, and other stores. When I'm travelling, I'll typically find vegan food wherever I travel, but it's more difficult when I'm in a city where I don't know the locals. I know there are thousands of wonderful vegans worldwide, so why not utilize their knowledge when travelling?
By joining one of these online forums, you'll be able to get in touch with local vegans who are either vegan-friendly or just extremely nice. Pro Tip: Let someone else show you around. To avoid the embarrassment of being served meat when you don't want it, I always suggest I'll show you around or simply let you show me where you eat.
Like travelling to exotic locales, vegan travellers also need to be flexible and open to eating and dining outside their comfort zone. While you're away, it is helpful to talk to other vegans in your host country. I'm not sure what other options are available for vegans on my upcoming trip to Prague, but in Vienna, for example, I've already found several Facebook groups where vegans can be found, and in one conversation.
I even found a veg restaurant and vegan takeaway joint. In addition, many people are often more than happy to invite you to join them for lunch or dinner. Facebook is also a great way to find out about upcoming vegan events in your area.
Carry Vegan Treats With You
When people visit me in San Francisco and ask what I like to eat while on the road, I love to show off my stash of vegan goodies, but when I've got an overseas trip planned, it isn't easy to be sure what they have available. The truth is, you can't count on travelling ingredients being available to you at your destination.
So carry a bunch of vegan travel snacks with you. I recommend making sure you have trail mix, granola, cereal, nuts, and vegan protein bars. These items are easy to bring, provide quick nutrition, and leave your hands free for other more important tasks like packing, sightseeing, and communication. They'll save you in the long run!
Everyone wants to know where to find vegan treats. I recommend carrying vegan treats on you while travelling as much as possible. I recommend making a list of places that sell vegan treats. Please keep it in your wallet, on your phone, in your email, wherever you can remember it.
When you're on the road, making a list of places to get something is way easier than searching for it yourself. It keeps your mind off the trip and gives you something to do. When you see a place that sells vegan treats, stop in. You'll be glad you did.
Learn Local Ingredients
Learn the nuances of the local diet. Although it might not be your normal diet, it's important to know how the cuisine is made and what is in it to navigate a vegan diet successfully. You might also want to learn what dishes are vegan or plant-based. This is especially important if you are visiting a country where you don't know the menu.
I'm always most comfortable in the company of other vegans so that I can ask many questions. If you're not sure what's in your food, it's best to ask and check the ingredients. This is actually much easier if you are travelling in a country where animal products are not used, such as Japan, where veganism isn't an issue.
The first few times you travel are always the toughest. First, you learn you may need to be creative in your meals. Instead of just taking a regular bowl of pasta for lunch, you can have some tomato sauce on a bed of pasta and sprinkle some seasoning over it. In Peru, I learned to order vegetables in places where the local menu does not list vegetables.
If you're travelling through Southeast Asia, you'll probably find that some restaurants and markets do not have non-vegan options available. If you're travelling to one of these regions, be prepared to improvise a bit, and enjoy what you can find.
Learning to explore markets and trying new recipes is important in establishing a great foundation for a vegan lifestyle. By learning how to make your own vegan food, you also learn to cook a few different vegan dishes.
Notify Your Accommodation
The residence is where you can have the most exciting experiences. Unfortunately, some hostels, guesthouses, and even hotels will not offer you any vegan meals. Just inform them beforehand, and you'll have a comfortable stay without worrying about anything.
The biggest area that you will encounter problems is when you're eating out in foreign lands. Since meat is heavily served in these restaurants, many of these places will not accommodate you. The easiest solution is to have your friends find a restaurant that does cater to you, and you can enjoy a delicious meal.
Find 100% Vegan Travel Accommodations
I know that every hotel isn't going to be 100% vegan-friendly. However, it's best to find out as early as possible. Many vegan travellers opt to stay in hostels or Airbnb. Hostels are particularly vegan-friendly because many have facilities and means to cook or order vegan food. Airbnb is great for staycations or even longer vacations when you're more likely to eat at a restaurant once or twice in the area.
Be mindful of where you stay, and see what vegan accommodations are listed near your travel destination. There's a good chance the food you will eat in the United States will not be vegan. Be sure to pack your own food so that you can keep your diet as strict as possible.
First, you need to find a hotel that truly respects your dietary needs. At this stage, it is easier to find a vegan/plant-based accommodation in the South because there is such a wide range available. Find hotels that offer vegan food 24/7 or offer something that you can't find in the surrounding area.
There are also travel agencies that specialize in vegan travel. They offer special packages that accommodate the needs of both vegans and non-vegans. A few of my favourite websites are: Green Travel, World Vegan Travel, Vegbeood, Your Own House, and You Will Not Be Received with Negativity. Plant-based eaters aren't always received well on holiday trips. However, with the help of vegan travel providers, we've built a very diverse community of travellers.
Find Vegan-Friendly Restaurants
You know how sometimes you think you've found a nice restaurant, and it's going great until you start talking to your waiter and realize he isn't vegetarian or vegan? Chances are, the restaurant is also not vegan.
If you're visiting a country with a relatively large population of vegans, try asking your waiter if they can accommodate your dietary needs. Often they will be. While I can't vouch for every restaurant, I do know that they're all trying hard to please their guests and are more than willing to bend over backwards to do so.
At any rate, this is the surest way to find vegan-friendly restaurants in most destinations. When I'm travelling, I always look for local vegan food markets because I prefer to eat what the locals are eating.
So now that you're convinced you're capable of leading a vegan lifestyle when travelling let's start planning your next trip. Remember, you should only travel if you're genuinely interested in the destination and not just as a means to an end. Do your homework first and research a hostel with a great rating and get there with a friend if possible. Good luck, and good luck to all you vegan travellers!
I trust you enjoyed reading the article on Tips For Travelling Vegans. Would you please stay tuned? There are more blog posts to come very shortly.
Your Opinion Is Important To Me
Thoughts? Ideas? Questions? I would love to hear from you. Would you mind leaving me your questions, experience and remarks about Tips For Travelling Vegans in the comments section below? You can also reach me by email at Jeannette@LivingTheVeganLifestyle.org.
You might also enjoy these blog posts: