It’s getting easier to eat a vegan diet these days, with more products on the shelves for plant-based diets. However, travelling while on a vegan diet can require you to be more creative and resourceful. But let me assure you that by no means is it impossible! In fact, it’s a tonne of fun…
Plan Your Destination Based Upon Your Food Options
While it is possible to eat vegan anywhere, there is no doubt that some destinations are more vegan-friendly than others. If you aren’t too attached to where you go, consider travelling to a vegan-friendly location.
Some locations can be very exciting for a vegan as local cuisine is tailored to a plant-based diet and strange and wonderful iterations of both familiar and strange dishes can be enjoyed.
Research The Food
One of the best things about travelling is sampling the local food. There is no reason why, as a vegan you shouldn’t be able to enjoy the local food. However, you will have a better experience if you do a little research before you arrive.
Find out the signature dishes of the country you are visiting and find out if any of them are ‘accidentally vegan’. If so, these will be your staple go-to foods. For example, in Thailand, the popular and prevalent dish of mango with sticky rice is prepared with only rice, sugar, coconut creme and fresh mango.
Another approach is to find dishes that only have one or two non-vegan ingredients that can easily be removed or replaced. A good example of this is Thai Papaya Salad – as shown above – that generally is only made non-vegan by the addition of fish sauce. You can simply ask for this ingredient to be left out or replaced with regular soy sauce.
The next step is to find vegetarian alternatives as they are also often close to what you’re looking for and can sometimes easily be made vegan with the subtraction of just one or two ingredients…just politely ask your server.
Seek Out Advice From Other Plant-Based Travellers
If you are lucky you know other vegans personally who have travelled abroad. Get their input before you finalize anything.
Failing that, head online and find out what other Vegan and Plant-based travellers do. What countries do they love for its food, what restaurants are vetted by them and what obstacles have they faced?
How to be better prepared than by learning from, and following in the footsteps of other more experienced travellers that eat in a similar way to you?
Protip: A great resource for planning your vegan travel is The Ultimate Vegan Travel Directory, comprised of some of the best vegan travel bloggers and vegan food bloggers on the internet.
Learn Some Lingo
Whether travelling to a vegan-friendly destination or not, it can only help to learn a few select words of the local language. Some handy phrases to learn can include:
Vegetarian – many languages do not have a distinct word for vegan – it’s a start
Please/Thank you – to make your server more inclined to adhere to your request
Speaking may not even be necessary at first. Sometimes you can filter out appropriate eating places even better by identifying the local written symbol or sign for Vegetarian or Vegan.
This could help you identify what eateries might serve vegan-friendly options. Another great way to identify vegan-friendly restaurants is to visit:
Perhaps the best resource for vegans on the web is the Happy Cow website. It lists vegan and vegan-friendly eateries around the world. Check out possible spots ahead of time and screen shot the options for that city and store on your phone.
If you forget, check out your options using the WiFi at your accommodation before you head out for a feed.
Work Out What to Eat on Flights
I had a great experience with Singapore Airlines..especially when it came to the food. Who knew they catered to so many different dietary requirements?! I mean, I was able to get a plate of sliced fruit for a late meal on my flight that boarded at 1 am.
It was a simple thing. But sometimes the food when flying can be so limiting that when an airline has something basic that practically everyone can eat, it’s a real joy.
Obviously, check what different options are available on your flight – especially on long-haul flights, where you really need to be able to eat and can’t just get by with some snacks.
Sort out what you are going to eat on your flight well before your departure when possible. Sometimes certain dishes have to be pre-ordered, or are cheaper when ordered online that while on the flight.
The other reason to put thought into your food before you fly is because in some cases your airline may not cater to a vegan diet at all. In that case you have a few different options.
Some airlines will allow you to bring food onto the flight if you advise them ahead of time of your dietary needs.
Then again, you may simply want to swap airlines for one that is a little more plant-based friendly.
In this regard, we have The Vegan World Traveller to thank. He has made this easier for us all by doing extensive research in order to give us a list of airlines with vegan in flight meals.
Always Carry Food Staples
Despite your best efforts, you will find that occasionally you will not be able to access any food that you can eat. On the other hand it may not be that you simply can’t find anything vegan, but that all the vegan options are really just snack or junk foods like potato chips.
In such cases, you will be glad you packed some non-perishables. The best include dried fruit like dates and sultanas, nuts and seeds like sunflower seeds or pepita seeds. Have these individually or make your own interesting mixes.
Below is some dried rock melon I picked up while travelling. Yum!
You can usually pick up all or any of these at the airport when you arrive in a new country, but if you choose you can usually bring your own supply – but be sure to double check any food restrictions the country you are visiting may possibly have.
Know Where Your Fresh Food Markets Are
Raw food is a great fall back for people who eat a completely meat and dairy-free diet. Heading over to the local markets and getting a haul of vegetables and fruit can help you to stay fed until you can find a spot where you can get pre-made food.
Throw together simple salads and have a fruit meal in your room. if you have a kettle in your accommodation you can even blanch leafy green vegetables – an especially good move if you are not confident about the safety of eating raw vegetables.
Create Your Own Buffet-style Meals
Sometimes you will find that you won’t be able to buy full meals that satisfy. If you are like me, sometimes you simply don’t want to..and prefer to make your own crazy meals that go beyond the limits of any one restaurant.
In that case, go on a little restaurant crawl and get a bunch of takeaways. You can usually buy steamed rice or root vegetables, steamed corn, bananas or noodles, for example, on their own.
Street food stalls can provide interesting options. The offerings can often often be considered snacks, but put together with other foods you collect on your food-hunt, it can make for a fun buffet-style feed.
Along with collecting individual items from takeaways, supermarkets can be handy for completing your meal. Get pickles from the deli, pre-made salad from the chiller, crackers and breads and more.
Supermarkets often have recognizable items that restaurants might not have, and if you are concerned about hygiene, you can buy more packaged items.
Read Ingredients on EVERYTHING
Food laws differ greatly around the world, and what you can expect from a specific food back home may be completely different abroad.
During my travels I have found cows milk as an ingredient in products labelled simply ‘Soy Milk’. There has been honey, eggs and milk in innocent-looking whole grain and wholemeal breads.
Just remember to use the usual vegan-savvy you use back home and don’t assume anything about the products on the shelves.
Got any tips for fellow herbivores? What helps you to eat Vegan when travelling? Comment below!