In preparation for our thirty days vegan travel challenge for Veganuary we searched high and low for recommendations and tips on ways to maintain a vegan diet and lifestyle whilst on the road, and whilst there were some good tips, it never beats asking current vegan travellers for their advice.
Whilst we’ve had some success over the past 12 months travelling on a vegetarian diet since Asia had its hand in changing our diet last year, we feel that there’s still so much that we don’t know and have often asked our vegan friends how they do it.
Beyond continuing to use the fantastic resource that is HappyCow for finding great vegan and vegetarian restaurants we’ve decided that it was best to speak to some of the best vegan travellers and vegan travel blog writers for their own personal tips on how they manage to maintain their diet in a multitude of different countries, no matter if they speak the language, and also when there isn’t a vegan restaurant for 100 miles around or more.
Here are a selection of their vegan travel tips that we’re going to be putting to the test over the next few weeks as we travel through Belgium, Holland and Germany.
Nicole of Vegan Nom Noms
Nicole is a vegan solo female traveler with a never-ending case of wanderlust and on her blog Vegan Nom Noms you’ll find recipes, reviews and travel tips from a plant-based perspective.
1. Tech up. Apps like foursquare and yelp, etc. can be a goldmine for vegans. Search “vegan, soymilk, wifi” etc. to find what you’re looking for.
2. Talk to people. Seek out other vegans via the Couchsurfing website, meetup.com, etc. Not only will you make a new friend, they’ll probably know the best veg spots and events not listed online.
3. Make it work. Even if you’re not in a city with lots of vegan restaurants, there are always accidentally vegan foods to be found! From an awesome couscous salad, fresh fruits, breads, etc. don’t be afraid to venture to the non-vegan spots and ask around.
Giselle of Mindful Wanderlust
Giselle who has been travelling with her partner Cody since 2011. They’re a creative, tattoo loving, goofy, vegan, and travel loving couple wanting to share their experiences around the world with people, while doing it in a compassionate and responsible way.
I would say read all of the ingredients all of the time. Even if you think you know what’s in it, they might have sneaked some milk powder in there as they love to do. And when in doubt, go to the fruit market!
Ligeia and Mindy of BoundingOverOurSteps
Ligeia and Mindy are avid travelers and have been vegan since August 2012. Together, they’ve lived in USA, Canada, Germany, and are currently residing in Chiang Mai, Thailand, working to save Asian elephants. Their dream is to open a sanctuary for animals rescued from the food industry.
Explaining that you’re vegan is different depending on where you are in the world. For example, in Latin America, we have found that by saying you have an allergy to certain foods and that they will make you sick is more often understood. In Asia, explaining that you don’t eat animals or animal products because of religious reasons is clearer. In North America or western Europe, people are more likely to understand your ethical reasons for being vegan. Even if there isn’t a language barrier, sometimes a cultural barrier can prevent people from fully understanding your requests.
Lauren and Justin of JustinPlusLauren
Lauren and Justin a Canadian couple who loves to travel together! We’ve visited many destinations in North America, and we’re slowly traveling around the world! We love seeking out yummy vegan food on our journeys, as well as exploring new places, hiking, snorkeling, or whatever adventures we come across!
The best vegan travel tip we can provide is to be prepared, no matter where you are going. Do your research ahead of time as much as possible. Use Google to search for restaurants that serve vegan food, post on the Tripadvisor forum to ask for people’s suggestions (locals or those who have traveled there can help you out!), and look up places on other vegan/vegetarian-friendly travel blogs.
Make sure that you have a few back-ups in place: if you think you’ll be spending the day at a place that isn’t particularly friendly to vegans, it doesn’t hurt to bring along some vegan energy bars (such as Clif bars) or vegan protein powder for a quick meal replacement just in case! We have many travel tips for vegans at our blog, Justin Plus Lauren, including our Guide to Eating Vegan on a Cruise Ship.
Sam of Indefinite Adventure
Sam is a sometimes-EFL teacher, wannabe-minimalist, language geek who is trying to make it as a digital nomad with his partner, Zab. They’ve been together for almost nine years now, and travelling indefinitely for one and a half. You can follow them on their blog Indefinite Adventure where they chronicle their journey, write about the places they visit, and the vegan food they eat.
Our best tip for finding great options for eating out as a vegan is to use Foursquare. This social media app is excellent at searching for anything that mentions ‘vegan’ near where you are, or where you’re going. Maybe a restaurant doesn’t specifically call itself vegan or even vegetarian, but the beauty of Foursquare is that users can leave tips to tell others what’s good and if there are vegan options on the menu. We’ve used Foursquare a lot in big cities (where it works best) and have found some real gems, especially in such vegan-friendly cities as Berlin where just searching for vegan cake will give you dozens of results!
Elena of Travel and Tofu
Elena is a native of Spain and has been vegan for almost 3 years and in her blog she writes about her vegan experiences traveling around the world.
The best thing to do when you are a vegan traveler is to always take with you something to eat in case you can’t find any suitable food somewhere. For example, cereal bars, nuts or bananas. Remember as well that, although they are not the healthiest option, Oreos are vegan in many countries.
Chantae of Chantae Was Here
Chantae is an Australia-based travel blogger who is always in search of a good laugh and place to throw down her yoga mat. She admits to being an aquaholic, meaning she’s addicted to any activity involving water whether it be in the surf or on the snow.
Arrived at a restaurant with no vegan meals listed on the menu? The best way to counter this is to come prepared. For every type of cuisine, have an easy meal in mind that you know the restaurant has ingredients for. A Mexican food stop may not specifically spell out a vegan dish, but you know they can whip something up using whole beans and fresh veggies. An Italian restaurant can offer you simple gnocchi with marinara. While Korean gastronomy is known for barbeque, there are sure to be tossed veggies and rice awaiting your consumption. Wherever you are, be sure to keep a ready-to-go recipe to make your evening – and the chef’s – function smoothly
Katie of WorldWideVegetarian
Katie is a vegetarian blogger and travel enthusiast, currently residing in Washington, D.C. During the past five years, she has traveled extensively through Europe and North America and enjoys learning about veggie dishes from other parts of the world.
Do some research before you go, and be mentally prepared for the fact that it won’t be as easy as it is at home to eat vegan
Emma of Veganbnb Travel
Learn the word for WITHOUT; if you intend on travelling in countries that do not use your native language this word will become a crucial part of your vegan travel lingo, You’ll nearly always find a vegan friendly option on a menu but may have to eliminate an ingredient or two which is much easier if you know this word!
Do your HOMEWORK; thoroughly research what the local cuisine is in your chosen travel destination so that upon arrival you’ll have an idea of what to expect, where to find it and if it will need adjusting, looking at google images also helps as then you’ll have visual references too.
Maria of Vegan World Trekker
Is a vegan travel writer & blogger who travels the world & USA frequently and shares her vegan dining experiences as well as sightseeing tips.
When you travel, be sure to ask the waiters in the restaurants if your veggie meal was cooked in veggie oil in the same pan where they may have also cooked meat or chicken wings.
My second tip is that if you order bread, be sure to ask waiter if top of it was coated with egg whites.
Jojo of Vegan In Brighton
Jojo has been vegan for almost a decade and during that time she’s made it her mission to travel as much as possible. Her vegan travel, lifestyle and food blog is home to stories from her travels as well as reviews from her favourite spots from the road and from home. Jojo loves both searching out and eating all of the vegan options she discovers on her adventures. When she’s not travelling the world Jojo runs Operation Icing, her not-for-proﬁt bakery, from her home in Brighton.
Always take a food clip! This is kind of an ongoing joke between my husband and I because I always have one of those little bag clips right by me whether we’re outa the house or lounging in bed. I love trying new snacks like the Earth Balance White Cheddar Popcorn but you often can’t eat the whole thing in one go and you really don’t want it spilling out of the pack and rolling around in your bag. Along the same lines I always take a couple of those zip seal food baggies with me, they’re perfect for storing that half of a sandwich you couldn’t manage or the one donut leftover from the box of six you picked up.
If you’re going to be self catering for a short period of time pop a mini bottle of washing up liquid and a sponge into a zip seal baggie and take it with you. These things are unlikely to be provided in your average self catering apartment or cottage and it’s annoying to have to either a- splash out €6 of your travel budget on an eco brand or b- resort to buying something cheap and probably animal tested. It’s something you’re going to use a tiny bit of and then leave behind so why waste the money?
Jess is North & South Nomads
Jess is the vegan half of North & South Nomads food and travel blog. She’s a freelance writer and lawyer, who loves swimming traveling.
Research the local cuisine of the area you are visiting and know what substitutes to request.
Some people won’t understand veganism, no matter how detailed an explanation you give. It’s often not because they don’t want to understand, but because it’s a completely foreign concept to them.
To help get around this, do your research and find out what dishes are popular in the area you’re visiting. Research the ingredients in these dishes so you can request specific substitutes like plum sauce for fish sauce, or vegetable stock where chicken or beef stock would usually be used.
Yara of Heart of a Vagabond
Yara Coelho is a vegan travel blogger who left home 16 years ago to explore the alternative scenes around the globe, experiencing vegan dishes, off the beaten path destinations and natural medicines
There’s a widespread myth among many travelers that keeping a vegan lifestyle while on the road is extremely difficult. There are obviously certain destinations which are easier than others, but my experience as a lifelong vegetarian and vegan for 14 years, is that every culture, no matter how exotic or different will have at least a vegetarian dish that can be veganized.
I ALWAYS ask if a certain dish I chose is 100% free of animal products and instead of trying to explain what veganism is, I will simply say I’m highly allergic to dairy and eggs and I don’t eat meat for religious reasons, sometimes it’s the only way to be taken seriously. I always investigate the options available at Happycow and keep those restaurant contacts at hand.
Caryl of Vegan Food Quest
Caryl is one half of Vegan Food Quest with the other half being Paul. They left England in January with no plans to return and are currently in Malaysia where they continue to find, eat & write about the best vegan food in the world.
Make sure you learn about the local cuisine for each place you visit, that way you’ll have a better chance at ‘veganising’ non-vegan food or you may come across dishes that are already vegan like delicious Thai khanom krok or Indian masala dosa.
Communicate with other vegans – we love chatting to fellow vegans over social media, sharing tips about where we’ve been and getting some great advice about where and what to eat from the rest of the vegan community, so get in touch!
Take a B12 supplement with you, it’s so important not to miss out on this vitamin and it’s not always easy to get new supplies whilst travelling – pack your vitamin pills or other source of B12 and stay healthy.
Justin of The Lotus and the Artichoke
Justin’s award-winning cookbooks and blog document his travels, art, photography and vegan recipes inspired by adventures in over 40 countries since embracing a vegan / vegetarian lifestyle in the early 1990s. Born in the US, based in Berlin since 2001, he has also lived in the Marshall Islands, Mexico and India. His recipes and food photography have appeared in numerous publications worldwide. Justin also offers international vegan cooking classes, exclusive dinner parties and cooking demos in English and German.
BE MODEST! You’ll always find a warmer welcome, more understanding and better experiences if you stay down to earth. Remember you’re a guest, a visitor. A few words in the local language, even just greetings, make a world of difference — whether at someone’s home, in a restaurant, or at the grubbiest street cart ever.
Avoid referring to yourself (Don’t: “Hi, I’m a VEGAN, cater to ME!”) and focus on the food (Do: “Does this have x, y, z?” “Can you make it with just A & B?”) Express curiosity, acknowledge the hospitality of your host, keep it fun and light. People are more willing to understand and accommodate your special needs if you show respect, avoid judgement, and assume things will work out. Not feeling it? Move on, with a smile.
Most vegan travelers complaining how tough it is on the road travel with the arrogant attitude that no one will understand their convictions. They assume conflict, confusion, fish sauce and chicken stock are lurking behind every corner. Expect openness and you will find it: Invitations into the kitchen, hilarious charade games complete with animal imitations and illustrations, and true connections with the culture and people… even beyond the apps and established safe bets!
Thanks so much to each and every one of these fantastic vegan travellers for sharing their tips with us, and hopefully they won’t just be beneficial to us during our travels, but also to you when you hit the road for your next holiday or future life of long term full-time travel.
Is your vegan travel tip missing? Share yours in the comments!