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How to Eat Vegan While Traveling

New to Veganism? Here are 13 Tips for How to Eat Vegan on Your Adventure

As someone who lives in southern California, finding vegan foods close to home is a breeze. Eateries all over LA county boast amazing vegan versions of my favorite foods—soul food, Mexican cuisine, pizza, pie, and more — but finding vegan options always gets a bit trickier when I travel. Gas stations aren’t known for their healthy foods; veg-friendly restaurants can be difficult to find; and I think we can all agree that airplane food is rough. Even so, I’ve found that traveling as a vegan can be simple — with a bit of planning you can eat vegan wherever you go.

From bringing travel-sized dairy-free coffee creamers onto planes to booking accommodations that provide kitchen access, traveling vegans have plenty of ways to stay healthy and satisfied. And thanks to apps like Happy Cow and Yelp, finding vegan options at local cafes and restaurants is easier than ever.   

Of course, some countries are more veg-friendly than others, (I’m looking at you,
Canada) but you can stick to a plant-based diet anywhere. Here are a few of the vegan hacks I’ve picked up while traveling. I hope they help you as much as they’ve helped me!

Research Your Destination’s Food Norms

Sadly, every culture has unfortunate rituals, celebrations, and customs that revolve around killing and eating animals. Plus, people from one culture might eat the animals that your culture has historically protected — and in my experience, this can be even more unsettling if you’re not expecting it. So while it will probably be unpleasant, it’s important to take some time to learn about how your destination’s culture uses animals for food.  

Download the Happy Cow App

It’s always a good idea to do some research ahead of time, but you can rest easy knowing the glorious Happy Cow app almost always has you covered. Like Yelp for vegans and vegetarians, Happy Cow might not help you find vegan dining options if you’re somewhere very remote, but if there are any vegan options near you, Happy Cow will find them. Yelp is also helpful.

Book Lodging With a Kitchen

I know, I know — half the fun of going somewhere new is trying the local cuisine. You don’t have to miss out because you eat vegan. Unfortunately though, some cities just aren’t that veg-friendly and eating out gets expensive. So when you have the option, make sure to book lodging that provides access to a kitchen. That way, whether you’re headed to Toronto or Paro, you’ll be able to cook yourself plenty of tasty meals — and save cash too!

Research How to Express That You’re Vegan

Wherever you decide to visit, you’ll need to know how to tell locals that you eat vegan. To start, here’s how to say “I’m Vegan” in the world’s 10 most widely spoken languages.

When There Isn’t A Vegan Option, Request One

If I’m dining out and there’s no vegan option on the menu, I kindly request one. You can veganize most vegetarian options simply by asking your server to hold the dairy — or you can ask if the kitchen will make something special for you. If the restaurant keeps vegetables, fruits, dry pasta, or breads in stock, then they’re capable of whipping up a simple vegan entree.

Eat Vegan, vegan travel, vegan blogger

Follow Vegan Travel Bloggers

Vegan travel blogs are as inspirational as they are informative. I love following Mostly Amélie because she’s a solo traveler as I usually am, but you should check out these bloggers as well.

Connect With Local Vegans Online

Happy Cow and your hotel concierge should be excellent resources for your next vegventure, but one of the easiest ways to scope out your destination’s veg scene is to get on Facebook or Twitter and ask local folks for tips. You can also use Facebook to meet up with local vegans IRL, but please be sure to meet at a public place and tell a loved one about your plans.

Check Out The Vegan Passport

Available in book or app form, The Vegan Passport is a multilingual phrasebook and guide that will help you eat vegan anywhere in the world. The Vegan Passport includes the languages of over 96 percent of the world’s population and costs only around two bucks to download from iTunes or Google Play.  

Fly With Your Own Coffee Creamer

If you can’t stand black coffee, you should probably start taking your own coffee creamer onto planes. Even though plant-based milk is more popular than ever, most airlines don’t offer dairy-free options—yet! So the next time you fly, try to find a vegan coffee creamer or plant-based milk under four ounces.

Bring Your Own Food Containers

Plastic baggies and containers aren’t great for the environment, but they can keep you from wasting the yummy food you cook during your travels. And taking vegan snacks with you should save you time, money, and a whole lot of frustration.

Pack Produce and High-Protein Snacks

eat vegan

Whether on a cross-country road trip or a flight to Barcelona, you can’t go wrong with produce. After all, apples, oranges, and bananas are literally prepackaged by nature. Plus, they can stay fresh for days in most climates, and they are delicious, healthy, and relatively mess-free. Unshelled nuts require even less cleanup and can stay fresh for up to three months when properly stored.

Speaking of nuts, vegan protein snacks are a must. Before you take off on your next adventure, remember to toss some protein-packed vegan goodies into your carry-on, cooler, or picnic basket—like dairy-free protein shakes, unshelled almonds, and plant-based energy bars.

Grocery Stores and Farmers Markets Are Your Friends

Grocery stores and, unless you’re traveling somewhere with a brutally cold climate, farmers markets offer plenty to eat. In my limited experience, basics like rice, beans, lentils, pasta, oats, produce, and bread can be found no matter where you go.

That said, if you’re traveling to a remote village in a developing nation, you might be able to buy produce only during a two-hour window on Saturday mornings, and you may need to hike across some challenging terrain to reach it. (Been there.) Siestas are also common in parts of the world, so unless you’re somewhere familiar, don’t wait until you’re hungry to find vegan staples.

Have Fun With It

Take time to discover your destination’s vegan scene. Not only will you probably have the best lunch of your life; you might meet some truly inspiring folks. Veganism can provide a built-in community no matter where you are. But whether you choose to mingle with local vegans or do your own thing, it’s most important to be present and have fun!

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Elizabeth Enochs
Elizabeth Enochs
Liz Enochs is a California-based writer from a small town in Missouri that you've probably never heard of. Liz is a staff writer at Mercy For Animals, and she's written for Bustle, Girlboss, HelloGiggles, New Now Next, The St. Louis Post Dispatch, The Dodo, and a few others.