going away on vacay? lucky you!
traveling as a plant-eater can sometimes present new and unfamiliar challenges, but thankfully i have some tips to help you enjoy your new adventure while minimizing any foodie worries!
1. RESEARCH BEFORE YOU GO
there are so many wonderful resources at our fingertips: travel guides, books and magazines, word of mouth, and of course, the ubiquitous internet. before you head out, search out vegan and vegetarian restaurants in the area you’ll be staying (like happycow’s restaurant search). scour travel blogs for destination-specific tips, or check out local grocery stores that look promising. are there any farmers’ markets where you’ll be? picking out some places you’d like to eat, or markets you’d like to stop at, before you leave will ensure you spend more time out and about enjoying your trip, and less time fumbling around trying to find somewhere suitable to eat. (the last thing anyone wants to do on vacation is spend an hour in the hotel room desperately searching through yelp reviews…)
2. TRY SOME LOCAL DISHES
if you’ll be traveling to a foreign country, seek out plant-based dishes native to the culture you’ll be immersed in. try to find some traditional fare that might already be vegan, or easily veganized. depending on what area of the world you’ll be in, it’s possible that not everyone will be totally familiar with the details of vegan cuisine, so if you can find a great local dish already waiting for you to try, all the better.
3. LEARN A NEW LANGUAGE
traveling somewhere the native language isn’t your own? look up some important words to know and write them down in a notebook or in your phone. translate words like “vegan,” “vegetarian,” “cheese,” “egg,” “meat,” “milk,” etc. this way you can ask if certain foods contain these products. it also makes it easier to shop in marts when you can identify ingredients on labels.
4. CARRY SNACKS
snacks are hunger’s kryptonite! they provide easy-to-carry sustenance for times when suitable food might be few and far between. pack snacks in your handbag or backpack, and eat healthy local snacks when you come upon them. depending on where you are, you may or may not find anything else for a while. they’re also great for filling out meals– if you know you’ll probably end up with a simple green salad for dinner, you can always break out some calorie-dense snacks before hand: nuts, a granola bar, or even a banana might help add a little substance to your meal.
5. PLAN TO SHOP
if vegan restaurants are nonexistent where you’ll be, think about shopping a bit for some meals. even if there are a ton of options nearby, restaurants can get expensive if you’re eating out three times a day! plus, exploring markets is a great way to soak in a little local culture. farmers’ markets, night markets- these are where locals come to shop, gab, and trade. you’ll get authentic experience along with fresh, local, and usually cheaper food!
6. GET CREATIVE
sometimes meals must be made out of smaller stuffs. nothing suitable on the dinner menu? order appetizers, meze plates, tapas, side salads, ask questions about the ingredients, etc. living plant-based is all about making thoughtful choices that reflect your values and personal beliefs. be empowered by your convictions, and don’t be afraid to ask the server to sub the cheese for hummus.
7. BRING YOUR OWN FOOD
so you’ve done your homework, and there’s just really not too many realistic vegan-friendly options where you’ll be. or maybe you just can’t live without your daily spirulina smoothie. (don’t worry- we don’t judge here.) bringing your own food is certainly an option if you pack correctly and make sure to account for any travel-related restraints. make sure your items are nonperishable, and won’t melt in your bag. think self-contained items like canned beans or soup, instant oatmeal, tea bags, a jar of peanut butter, dried fruit chips, a bunch of bananas, etc. are you headed somewhere you’ll have a kitchen, (or even just a microwave), at your disposal? are you driving or flying? if you’re traveling internationally, check the country’s customs regulations regarding what kinds of foods, (and what volumes), you can bring into the country. you’ll have to decide for yourself what’s appropriate and reasonable for your trip.
8. DON’T BE AFRAID TO SAY “NO THANK YOU”
whether you’re staying with omnivore relatives or traveling in an area where plant-based eating is a foreign concept, don’t be intimidated into eating anything you’re uncomfortable eating. (in fact– strive not to let anyone intimidate you into doing anything uncomfortable period). your vacation is about enjoying yourself. a simple and cheerful “thank you, but i don’t eat dairy” is more than kind and shouldn’t hurt anyone’s feelings.
9. OFFER TO COOK
if you’re staying with relatives or in a home stay, offer to take over dinner duty for a night. be mindful of where you are though, as many cultures take hospitality very seriously, and you wouldn’t want to offend someone who takes great pride in providing their guests with a meal. when culturally appropriate, it’s a polite gesture to show appreciation for your hosts, plus there’s no better way to show off the wonders of plant-based food than with a fresh and delicious meal home-cooked with love.
10. GO WITH THE FLOW
vacations by definition are about (literally) leaving your comfort zone to explore new places. odds are, it’s probably going to happen at least once that your meal situation is less than ideal. decide what your priorities are, and let go of the rest. you might end up eating some junk food you wouldn’t normally eat at home, but make the best choices you can live with and know that one less-than-stellar meal won’t ruin your otherwise consistently good choices. you may even slip up and eat something that doesn’t exactly follow a plant-based diet. try to see it as an opportunity to reconnect with and reinforce your dedication to compassionate consumption. nobody’s perfect. let go of the judgement and try to grow in all experiences.
so what about it? any good vegan on vacation tips up your sleeves?