I’ve recently been trying to live a more vegan lifestyle. For the past 6 years, I’ve been a vegetarian/pescatarian (meaning I’ll eat fish at times). As a full-time traveller, this can be difficult, but with practice and time, I’ve been able to learn some ways to make vegan travel much easier. In this video, I teamed up with my friend and long-time vegan Candice of The Edgy Veg, to share our tips for staying vegan while traveling.
Tip #1 – Do Your Research
Research the areas you are interested in travelling to ahead of time. There are many countries that are vegan and vegetarian friendly. I’ve travelled to many countries where I found eating a vegetarian diet to be fairly easy. This is especially true in countries with tropical climates that allow for delicious fruits and vegetables to be grown year round.
In many cases, you can always ask to eliminate the meat in specific dishes if need be. I’ve found many cultures include rice, vegetables and legumes into their traditional and non-traditional meals.
Another thing to research is where the vegetarian and vegan restaurants are located in the areas you’re visiting. These restaurants don’t have to be 100% vegan or vegetarian but can have a lot of meat and dairy-free choices. Once you’ve found some great restaurants, you can plan your accommodations and daily activities around those food joints. It’s always nice to be able to wake up in the morning and not have to go on a crazy scavenger hunt trying to find a restaurant that serves vegan or vegetarian meals. Having an option or two within walking distance from where you’re staying can make your vegan travel experience a lot less frustrating. You want to be able to wake up, get food in your belly that you’re going to enjoy and get on with your day.
Tip #2 – Bring Snacks
This tip is a good one to follow even before you head to the airport. Let’s face it, airplane food can make vegan travel difficult. This is especially true for the breakfasts and snacks that are served. That’s why I always bring my own snacks with me on every flight.
Since I am someone who definitely gets hangry (when hunger turns into anger), I also throw some snacks in my day bag or purse before leaving my hotel/hostel. I never ever want a travel day ruined because I’m hungry and can’t find a place that has food I can eat. At least if I know I have some snacks in my bag that I can turn to, I am a much happier person and traveller.
Right now, my go-to favourite snacks are Hemp Bites, which contain the protein, omega-3 and omega-6’s that I need to keep me going when I’m feel tired and lacking energy. There are also damn tasty! I also like to bring nut butters with me which also give me a boost of energy when I need it. Candice likes to throw a few meal bars or vegan protein powder in her purse as well.
Tip #3 – Stay at a Place that has a Kitchen
Staying in places that include a personal or communal kitchen and will allow you to cook your own meals is essential for vegan travel. Many hostels, guest houses, and Airbnb offer access to a kitchen as part of the fee per night.
Being able to cook your own meals also saves you money on going out to a restaurant 3 times a day. It’s also nice to enjoy a home cooked meal once in a while when travelling. If you feel like eating a vegetarian/vegan diet is limiting you from enjoying the food culture of a place, having a kitchen where you can mix together local ingredients is a great alternative.
FUN FACT: Did you know that if you ask for a fridge to be put into your hotel room for medical reasons (in the case that it doesn’t have one), you won’t be charged the usual hefty fee for this service?
Tip #4 – Learn Key Phrases
I always suggest learning some key phrases in the local language of the country you’re visiting. As a vegetarian/vegan, it’s important to also learn key phrases that will help you when dining. It’s even more important to be specific with your words. Instead of learning, “I don’t eat meat,” you can learn to say, “I don’t eat chicken, beef, pork or fish.” There have been several times when I’ve told a server that I don’t eat meat, and she’s brought me something with chicken or fish in it. Her response, “There is no meat in this dish. Only chicken.” I guess chicken isn’t considered meat in some places…
I would also suggest learning how to say, “I’m allergic to…” If you tell a server or cook that you are allergic to meat or dairy, the situation will be taken more seriously.
If you’re worried about learning all of these key phrases, you can always put together a vegan travel cheat sheet to print and take with you on your adventures. You can also download a fantastic app called Google Translate, which actually will translate a menu for you using your phone’s camera. It also will translate someone’s voice if you and your server are having a difficult time understanding each other.
Tip #5 – Learn Substitutions
It’s also a great idea to learn substitution words in the language of the country you’re visiting. For example, instead of using chicken in a dish, maybe they can use tofu or mushrooms. Instead of fish sauce, maybe soy sauce can be used, etc…