12 things you need to know as a travelling vegan

Mar 2005

Whilst finding vegan options in other locations might be more tricky it is far from impossible. Going on holiday or travelling as a vegan does not need to be difficult. As a vegan you are probably used to planning ahead and doing research – that’s all part of the fun. And if you want to eat good vegan food on holiday, you will definitely have to do your research. Here are some tips if you’re worried about maintaining your vegan diet while travelling – or just going on holiday.

 

1. It’s important to choose your location wisely

This might seem like a no-brainer but although you might want to go on a sun-kissed safari across Kenya remember that food options might be limited.

If you have your heart set on a specific location you can do more research and plan ahead – there will always be ways you can minimise any issues.

But if you are looking for somewhere that being vegan will be easier consider locations like India where vegetarian restaurants are common, Turin (the world’s first self-declared vegetarian city) or Berlin – home of the original vegan doner kebab.

Check out Veggie Visa for great tips on travelling as a vegan and information on various locations.

Vegan Wanderlust has vegan foods featured from every country in the world showing that there really can be options everywhere.

2. Doing research is a must

12 things you need to know as a travelling vegan
(Picture: Getty)

Being vegan in most UK cities is now fairly easy but go off the beaten track or travel abroad and you may be stuck for food choices.

Websites like Happy Cow and Veggie Visa are an essential.

My tip is to use Instagram using hashtags such as #vegancopenhagen or #veganparis and you will find recommendations from other travellers and locals.

Local food or travel blogs are always worth a look.

3. The term ‘vegan’ is not commonly understood everywhere

Sure, it is polite to know how to say please and thank you but first in my list of lingo to master is always all the various ways of saying ‘I am vegan’ that I might need.

Remember that in some countries veganism isn’t fully understood so it’s important to also learn how to say ‘no meat, fish, dairy or other animal products’.

It’s also worth learning key words like egg, milk and honey for scanning ingredients on packets and menus.

Sometimes staff will not understand what veganism is. So if you are faced with a negative response don’t give up immediately.

Find out what vegetarian options they have and then see if they can be done without whatever ingredients do not make them vegan.

4. You should always take snacks

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. This is a vegan commandment and should apply in ALL situations.

If you don’t do this and you get hungry, so be it on your head. Or that of anyone you happen to be travelling with – nobody likes a hangry vegan.

Not only are snacks great for plane, train or bus rides but a few spare cereal bars or dried fruit will be your saviour when other options are limited.

5. Staying in an apartment will give you more options

This means that you can store snacks (see above) and make your own meals using all the interesting foods you can find in local shops and markets.

It also makes things cheaper than eating out all the time.

6. Local markets can be a game-changer

One of my favourite holiday activities is exploring local supermarkets and markets. The abundance of weird and wonderful produce lining the shelves can be mesmerising.

However playing a game of chance on something unidentifiable isn’t so fun as a vegan so be sure to know key words to be able to decipher the packets.

Fresh food markets are likely to present you with delightful fruit and veg that tastes like heaven and which you may never have had before.

Stock up for picnic goodies or snacks or to prepare back at your apartment.

7. Pack plenty of toiletries

Deciphering foodstuffs is one thing but toiletries and beauty products is another thing so it is best to pack as many of those as you can to last you.

Be aware that in some countries like China it is mandatory for companies to test on animals.

If you are going on a longer trip do research on where there might be health stores or brands available that you already use.

8. You can discover some really exciting foodstuffs

Experiencing another culture should be exciting and present you with new opportunities – particularly in eating. Find out what the local delicacies are and whether any are or can be vegan.

In West Africa and South America I have been pleasantly surprised by the abundance of bean and lentil dishes available.

In China I was excited to find pure vegan menus with plenty of mock meats at Buddhist temples and cafes.

9. But sometimes you will be massively disappointed

(Picture: Giphy)
(Picture: Giphy)

It won’t always be really easy and there will be times when your only option is a bunch of grass. Maybe some bread and roasted vegetables.

Do not be complacent if you are visiting countries that are very touristy and presume that they will have vegan options.

Even popular spots like the Canary Islands can be tricky.

If you do have a bad food experience make sure it does not affect how much you enjoy your holiday.

10. Try not to be offended by meat-eating culture in other countries

(Picture: Giphy)
(Picture: Giphy)

In countries outside of the UK eating meat is sometimes the easiest and cheapest option for locals.

Issues such as animal rights, the environment and health may not be on their radar.

In many countries I have visited I have been disturbed by the meat and fish markets, and even by so-called pet shops with atrocious conditions for the animals.

If you know that sections of markets are dedicated to meat and fish, give them a wide berth.

11. Locals might know more than the tourist guides

If you find something vegan somewhere it is possible that those selling it will know of other vegan options.

Ask the staff or even other people dining there if they know anywhere else.

I’ve done this and soon gone from having no options to having too many to choose from!

12. Share your experiences

If you have a good or bad experience somewhere it is important that you share it so other travellers or holiday-goers are aware of options.

Sites like Happy Cow and Trip Advisor rely on people sharing their experiences.

Instagram and Tweet with relevant hashtags so that others can find them when they are doing their research.

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