Travelling with a dietary requirement – be that vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free or gluten-free – can seem overwhelming, and many might let their eating habits restrict or completely write-off their travels.
But travel as a vegan CAN be done – and quite easily! I assure you.
I’ve been vegan for three years now, and wanted to share with you my top five tips for vegan travel.
I’ve made many mistakes in my vegan journey, especially when it comes to travel, so I’m hoping you can learn from me and avoid the same errors!
- Learn some key phrases regarding your diet in the language of the country you are visiting – this makes it MUCH easier to communicate with waiters and chefs, read menus, and generally avoid the ingredients you wish not to consume. For example, in Spanish, the phrase “I am vegan” translates to “soy vegano” whilst the word for “milk” is “leche”. So when ordering your morning coffee, you could state “un café
por favor, sin leche” (“one coffee please, no milk”). Makes things so much easier for both you, and the person taking your order.
- Utilise Happy Cow to find nearby eating options. Happy Cow is a fantastic online database which lists (user-submitted) vegan and vegetarian restaurants and cafes, supermarkets specialising in vegan or vegetarian items, or regular restaurants and cafes which offer vegan or vegetarian options. Such a great resource when you’re in an unfamiliar city and looking for a lunch spot.
- If you enjoy a drink when travelling (or any time really), use Barnivore to check that your glass of wine is vegan-friendly. Lots of alcoholic beverages are not vegan-friendly due to the use of animal derivatives used in their production processes, but not the final product, with these “silent” ingredients rendering many alcohols off-limits for vegans. For example, wines refined using milk, eggs or isinglass (the swim bladder of a fish). Barnivore is a user-generated database like Happy Cow, so if you find out that a certain alcohol is vegan, but not yet listed on Barnivore, submit it yourself.
- Pack snacks in your day bag. No matter how much preparation you may do, there can and will be times when you are caught out. Be prepared for these moments by packing away some snack or protein bars, nuts, fruit, or other chosen snack in your bag so you’ll never go hungry.
- Be polite. Politeness is key when inquiring about ingredients in a certain dish at a restaurant, asking whether the chef could veganise a meal for you, or otherwise looking to have your vegan diet and lifestyle accommodated. It’s must easier to acquiesce the request of a stranger when they are polite about asking. Whack on a smile, show thanks for your hosts efforts to accommodate you, and be grateful for what you are provided with. It also does wonders for the vegan message, as you will be judged as an example of a vegan whether you like it or not. Be a friendly, warm and polite example.