Travelling is one of the beauties of life, getting to experience exciting new foods and cultures. However, if you’re vegan travel can seem a little tricky; think navigating language barriers and cultural differences! You could end up ordering the steak by accident or living on salad.
It doesn’t have to be like this though! With a little thought and planning, you can happily eat your way around the world.
Here are some of my top tips for navigating a vegan lifestyle whilst travelling!
Don’t let language barriers and new places stop you from enjoying the vegan life!
Let’s face it, having dietary restrictions makes it a little harder to stumble across amazing eateries whilst travelling. I’m not saying it’s impossible. But standing outside of restaurants scanning menus for plant-based or gluten-free options isn’t fun.
There are some fantastic resources out there for finding vegan options of all cuisines and budgets. My favourite is Happy Cow. It’s an app that costs £3.99 and is worth every penny if you love to travel (They also have a free website!). You can filter for veggie and vegan options, through to purely vegan restaurants. This is perfect for when you’re with non-vegans and want to make everyone happy.
Another tip is to search for blog posts via Pinterest and Google. Find the ‘Vegan guide to…’ or ‘Vegan eats in…’ whichever place you’re headed and let the bloggersphere guide you. For example, I recently posted all about where to find the best vegan food in Austin, Tx.
Remember Your Snacks!
Now, this one is probably the most important tip, especially if you get hangry. Long days of travelling or wandering city streets can turn ugly when the blood sugar drops and no good vegan options are to be found.
Make sure to keep snacks, such as nuts, fruit, crackers and bars in your bag wherever you go. If you’re headed to the airport just read up on what food restrictions you may face. Countries such as the US are very strict about this.
This is also a great money saving tip. When I was backpacking last summer I’d go to the supermarket and pick up some fruit, nuts, and raisins etc, and just snack on them walking around. The money saved went towards nice meals at vegan restaurants I’d planned for.
Vegan Has Different Meanings
Even in your own language, the term vegan has very different perceptions in peoples minds. Many people don’t realise that foods such as fish and honey aren’t vegan, or they think you only eat raw vegetables.
In Thai, if you ask for ‘Jay’ foods you’ll get vegan. But this means something more than simply vegan. Buddhists believe that not eating animal products or strong herbs will purify the body. Therefore, you will also receive a dish without garlic and onion.
Just be aware that not everyone or every culture will have the same definition of a vegan diet as you do.
Remember To Ask What The Food’s Cooked In
If dishes such as vegetables, beans or fries are on the menu, you may just assume they’re cooked in some sort of vegetable-based oil. Unfortunately, many restaurants opt for animal fat to fry or roast with.
Also, even if the oil is vegan, it may have been used to cook non-vegan foods, so check if you’re unsure.
Another related point is to ask what your dish is served with. When in America, literally everything is topped with cheese. It’s easier to ask upfront than to send it back!
Be Patient & Flexible
This is so important if you want to have a happy and relaxed experience. Waiting staff at non-vegan eateries are not likely to be experts in your diet. They might be unsure about what you can or can’t eat, or have to deal with a chef who hates making alterations.
The best option is to stay patient and friendly. If there is a vegan option on the menu then fab, be grateful that the world is progressing. If not, be flexible with what they can offer you and kinda go with it (especially if you’re with others). Plus, if you can only order a salad, think how healthy you look compared to everyone else!
When faced with a language barrier, this point is particularly relevant. Going prepared with a translation of “I am vegan’ and ‘ I cannot eat’ can be really handy. Lucky for you, I’ve created a pocket-size vegan survival guide, complete with photos of everything vegans can’t eat. All you have to do is add the vocab of the relevant country you’re visiting!
And there you have it. A vegan’s guide to surviving travel, be it a short vacation or long-term adventure. Be sure to comment below with any extra advice or funny incidents of ordering vegan food gone wrong!
Speak to you soon,