When you are following a special diet or lifestyle, things can become rather restrictive; especially in terms of eating out or traveling. However, with a little bit of planning and the use of proper resources, there is no reason why you cannot keep yourself healthy, happy, and well-nourished even while exploring the world.
Here are some easy ways to get through all the rigors of traveling without getting cranky, while following a vegan diet.
1. Plan before you leave – but stay flexible!
Before you leave your home, do some Google searches to determine the kind of place your destination is. This is especially important when visiting places for the first time, and especially during international travel. While planning is definitely one of the important of all-vegan travel essentials, you must also keep yourself flexible. Who knows: you just might find a small café or restaurant that you did not find on Google, and yet it serves the best veggie burgers you have ever eaten! So keep an open mind! Print out maps along with directions to the places you want to eat.
Call your airline/cruise/travel agent about your on-board meal choices. If your flight ticket does not include meals, carry your own.
2. Use vegan travel books/Vegan Passport
Many vegans have written informative books and guides to help fellow vegans on their travels. For example, the book The Vegan Guide to New York by Rynn Berry can help a traveler looking for great places to eat in NY.
There is another great book that every vegan ought to know about. It is called the Vegan Passport. It is small enough to fit in one’s pocket and contains great resources about what to and what not to eat in this lifestyle. In addition; it has a lot of great information such as different ways to say “I am Vegan” in different languages. You can easily buy this great book online and it is indeed a must-have for every vegan traveler.
3. Use Vegan restaurant apps and websites
Vegans and vegetarians are mostly aware of the HappyCow website and this company also has its own Vegan restaurant app. Readers share photos of vegetarian and vegan food and you can also help other readers by sharing your own discoveries and finds! HappyCow has many useful resources such as vegan stores, B&B retreats around the globe, along with an interesting travel/vegan blog for you to enjoy. Check out their humor section for some interesting anecdotes too.
The best part about using the HappyCow Vegan restaurant app is that you can also save information about stores and restaurants offline and use it even when you do not have access to data services while traveling. For alternatives to the HappyCow app, check out this link.
4. Speak to the locals
Being vegan on holiday in Europe or western countries is often easier. But what about when you travel to one of the under-developed areas of the world? Many of these countries do not have data services and could even pose language barriers. In such a case, it is a good idea to talk to some locals, preferably before leaving; ones who speak your language and know what veganism is all about.
You can easily seek information about local vegetarian and vegan food from these people. To find reliable informants, go online on Facebook groups or even speak to someone at the embassy. Befriend a local on the flight to that nation and ask them questions about restaurants or stores that cater to vegan foods. On social media, type Vegan + the name of the country and you can find many groups pertaining to that. Who knows: some friendly local can also invite you for a vegan meal or two! This is a great way to network and form lasting relationships for life.
5. Use hospitality exchange sites
Hospitality exchange websites like BeWelcome.org, Couchsurfing.org, and GlobalFreeloaders.com can also help you meet vegans across the world. Sites like BeWelcome are free of cost and you can share each other’s homes, connect with fellow travelers, and ask all your questions about vegan-or vegetarian restaurants while traveling to another country.
6. Travel to the best vegan travel destinations
According to a recent survey, there are a few countries that are great for vegan travelers. So if you aren’t too particular about where you want to go, you can book your tickets for one of the following best vegan travel destinations:
- Tel Aviv
- Glasgow, Scotland
- Bali, Indonesia
- New York
- New Zealand
7. Always keep vegan snacks handy
To avoid extreme hunger pangs, keep some of the following non-perishable snacks handy in your vegan travel pack:
- Nuts and seeds
- A few packets of soy or rice milk in tetra packs
- Sugar peas
- Baby carrots
Be careful about what you bring on board an airplane; these days there are many restrictions about bringing fruits etc. When in doubt, call the airline and find out.
8. Do not panic!
If you haven’t researched a particular restaurant or local eatery, do not panic. Stick to ethnic foods because many ethnic varieties contain vegan offerings like chickpeas, beans, etc. Even if the restaurant does not serve these, you can ask to speak to the manager. Explain that you are “allergic” to animal-based foods. You can also get each dish on their menu ‘veganized’. For example, you can ask for pasta without cheese or milk and if the restaurant is not too packed, ask to speak to the chef who can whip up something for you. Don’t forget to generously tip the waiter for having taken such good care of you.
9. Bring your own food on shorter trips
The BYOF or ‘Bring your own food’ is the best vegan travel food option for shorter trips. An icebox is a worthwhile investment and can help you keep your food fresh for a couple of days. If nothing, carry a peanut butter jar. You can always find bread and bananas in any country and can make great-tasting and filling PB sandwiches. Always carry a few forks or spoons: there is nothing yuckier than having to make PB sandwiches using your fingers!
10. Make your own food
If possible, choose the option of making your own meals. Select a hotel or apartment with a kitchenette. Shop at local markets or health food stores for ingredients you need to make your vegan meals. This is a great way to save money too!
11. Tips for vegans going on a cruise
- Contact the cruise manager or travel agent and explain your ‘allergies’.
- Speak to the chef as soon as you are on board. Give them a 24-hour notice so they can offer you a-la-carte options instead of the buffet meals.
- Go ethnic, when possible, but do ensure that the meals are not cooked in ghee, lard, or butter.