There are lots of reason one may have for eating a vegan diet. Health, the environment, animal welfare, etc. And eating plant-based has become more accessible and attainable for people everywhere.
However, it’s not always easy to maintain such a lifestyle while traveling. Depending on where you are, you may not always have access to plant-based meals or alternatives. But hard does not mean impossible. It is definitely doable to explore the world as a vegan. It just takes preparation! With these tips, you’ll be able to travel on a plant-based diet.
Use vegan apps & websites
Of course, you can ask Siri “vegan meals near me”, but there are better ways to find great vegan meals. Google is a great resource, but is limited to keywords like “vegan” and “plant-based” in the reviews.
My go-to website for finding vegetarian and vegan food while traveling (and at home) is HappyCow, the online vegan Bible. HappyCow allows you to search for vegan restaurants, stores and even accommodations. Each place is reviewed by vegan travelers on the quality of the meals and offering. The HappyCow website is free to use, but the app costs around 5 EUR. A fair price to have so much knowledge at your fingertips!
Cook your own meals
As a vegan, sometimes your options are limited. The easiest way to follow a plant based diet while you travel is obviously to make your own food. It’s not as fun, but it is more affordable. Especially on long trips. So it’s a great way to travel plant based on a budget.
I prefer to book hostels that have a communal kitchen, so that I can cook my own meals. Another option is to book apartments or vacation homes with a kitchen. Hotels generally don’t offer more than a water cooker, but even that can be used to make instant noodles or oatmeal. Lunch and breakfast is relatively easily sorted with bread and peanut butter, one of my go-to travel foods.
I always bring my own snacks when I travel. You never know when you’ll be able to find something suitable to eat and I hate to go hungry. Some of my go to healthy vegan snacks are:
- Hummus and carrots
- Granola- or protein bars
- Dried fruit and nuts
- Fresh fruit and vegetables
There are lots of cheap vegan meals you can cook with few ingredients and little space. Some of my go-to recipes are:
- Rice and beans
- Pasta with tomato sauce and veggies
- Lentil soup
Learn how to ask in the local language
If you’re going to be traveling to countries where they speak a different language, learning the basics is a must.
Google Translate is a great tool (as a linguist, I’m very impressed with their algorithm) or use Linguee. I especially find the Google Translate app useful as it lets you download languages to use offline and even translate through your camera!
If you’re looking for a handy card with translations of all your dietary preferences, this PDF has you covered.
But even with translations, don’t be surprised if you run into trouble. Veganism and vegetarianism just isn’t widely practiced in some cultures, so they might simply have no idea what it is you’re talking about. I’ve gotten some very strange looks and chuckles when asking for meatless dishes. Or funny situations where I had to explain through gesturing that I didn’t want meat in my food.
I have personally been on a (mostly) plant-based diet for about 4 years now. I aim to eat plant-based as much as possible, but I do make the occasional exception. Especially when I travel. Food is an important part of travel for me and I find it an enriching cultural experience to try local food, even if that food contains animal products.
Follow vegan bloggers & influencers
When I first started traveling, I treated my Lonely Planet like a Bible. And although I still love rifling through guidebooks, I get most of my travel inspiration from blogs, Pinterest and Instagram. I love following along with their stories and trips and reading their personal recommendations. There’s so much information out there!
If you’re vegan or follow a plant-based diet, following some vegan influencers is a great way to get tips and tricks. And for lots of mouthwatering content of course!
Reading blogs is a great way to research your prospective destinations. After all, some places are more vegan-friendly than others. It’s generally easier to find plant-based meals in big cities, especially in Europe and the US, as well as cuisines that are traditionally vegan-friendly, like Middle-Eastern and Southeast Asian. My favorite destinations for plant-based food have been:
Meet with local vegans
There is no better resource than locals. After all, they know their city/town/country the best. Not only can they point you to the best places to eat, but also teach you about their cuisine and culinary traditions.
The pinnacle of travel eating to me isn’t the fancy restaurants or hip street food places. No, it’s a home cooked meal. In my opinion, there is no better facilitator of cultural exchange than a shared meal. If you want real “authentic” food, you need to eat what the locals are actually eating. Local vegans probably have their own versions of traditional recipes that they would be happy to share with you.
A great way to get in touch with locals is through Couchsurfing. Even if you’re not comfortable sleeping at a stranger’s house, you can still join events or use the Hangouts function. There are vegan subgroups and vegan search keywords if you’re looking specifically for plant-based hosts. Some of my favorite travel memories have been from meeting other Couchsurfers and sharing food with them. Don’t forget to offer to cook them a tasty vegan meal in return!
Especially in bigger cities, there might also be a vegan Meet Up you can join. This is a nice way to connect to other vegans in your own hometown and cook dishes from around the world as well.
Another option is Facebook and other social media. Facebook groups like Host a Sister and Girls Love Travel Overnight help you meet local sisters wherever you are traveling. Wanderful is another great community for traveling women.
Being a vegan does not have to stop you from traveling! With preparation and flexibility you can travel on a plant-based diet.
Are you a vegan traveler? Hit me with your tips in the comments!
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