Just because you’re a vegan, you don’t have to forgo the fun of travel to exotic lands. It’s true that you will probably not be able to partake of many of the unique dishes and delicacies that your travel mates may enjoy. However, you also don’t have to sit by yourself eating a peanut butter sandwich and playing online poker while your friends are trying the local cuisine.
With a little planning and some flexibility you can travel comfortably to almost any location in the world while maintaining your vegan eating plan.
Just because you can always find something to eat doesn’t mean that you always will. If you don’t do a little pre-travel planning, you might find it hard to find places that offer vegan fare. You can’t always assume that you’ll find a vegan-friendly eatery but they exist in almost every city, though sometimes they are called something different.
First, obviously, you should do some internet research to find out if there are vegan restaurants in the place that you plan to visit. That’s probably easiest because if it’s a restaurant that caters to vegans, you know that you don’t have to worry.
Secondly, you should research a bit about the cuisine of the locale. There are probably dishes that are fine for you to eat. They may not be recognized as “vegan dishes” but they are and once you are aware of what they are called in the local vernacular, you can search online for restaurants that sell that dish.
There are growing vegan communities around the world. You can network through social media to find local vegans and get their input.
Many cities have “Secret XXX” where people who live in that city, or who are preparing to visit that city, connect to ask questions, offer advice and just make friends. Sometimes it takes a bit of searching to find such a group but if you put the name of the city that you plan to visit in the “search” bar of, say, Facebook, you will likely find at least one local group with friendly folks who are prepared to help.
These people may not be vegan themselves but you will almost certainly find at least one person who has the knowledge that is needed for you to find vegan cuisine.
The more of the local language that you know. Instead of social media connecting, you can network with real people in real time. You can also use your Google Translate app to show people what you want. When the locals see that you’re making an effort to meet them in their own language, they’ll be much more accommodating about helping you find the eating alternatives that meet your needs.
You can use this knowledge in restaurants as well. Find the words for “meat”, “fish”, “eggs,” “milk,” etc. Between those basic words and a bit of hand gestures, you’ll be able to ask the questions that you need to ask in order to eat the way that you want to eat.
Today, it’s easy to see exactly what amenities are available at the accommodations that you book before you make your reservation. So consider booking at a guesthouse, hotel or hostel that offers cooking facilities. Even if you don’t really plan to cook, you can find places in almost every area that have a hot water urn and a toaster oven or a microwave — basic amenities that will allow you to prepare some basic meals.
Birds of a Feather
The best source of information about local vegan alternatives is, of course, your fellow vegans. In the same way as networking sites helped you find general information about local vegan eateries, vegans who live in the area, or who have already traveled in that locale, can give you pertinent information about how to eat well as a vegan in the region.
Travel sites including Trip Advisor and Couchsurfing offer a wealth of information that allow you to pose your questions and get the insider info on how to find good vegan eats, wherever you will be located.
Keep a stash of basic supplies in your suitcase. Items that travel easily and can fill you up — peanut butter and almond butter are two excellent items that you can fill up on almost everywhere and that you can always spread on local bread or crackers.
Regardless of your tastes, you can always find good produce at the local shops or markets as well as nuts and dried fruits, hummos and tahini and other protein-laded foods.
Don’t forget to pack any supplements that you use — omega 3, vitamin B12, etc. Keep those in your luggage since you might not be able to take them on board as hand luggage if there’s any liquid involved.
Your travel companions might not be vegans but if you take the time to show them how and why you eat the way that you do, they’ll be more understanding and, likely, more accommodating. If you’re prepared to sometimes have a salad at an eatery while they have other, non-vegan dishes, they’ll be more amenable to going out of their way to look for vegan sites more often.
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