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Hate to complain, but traveling as a vegan or vegetarian can be a daunting experience if you aren’t 100% prepared. When exploring the world, our ability to exert control over your veganism practices becomes somewhat limited.
But don’t let this put you off.
We have rounded-up some useful "traveling as a vegan" tips to make sure you stick to your diet while being miles away from your kitchen.
Before booking your holiday, ask yourself this:
Doing research on local vegan eateries near your destination is crucial.
Unless you love discovering those hidden gems as you’re traveling, thorough preparation will save you lots of time and keep you satisfied with your food choices.
Fortunately, there are plenty of resources available on various vegan travel apps, such as HappyCow, that can be of immense help
No one can read minds. If you are planning on staying with friends or relatives, you should make the point of informing them of your dietary preferences.
It is a matter of courtesy - one which will likely spare them from going through the trouble of cooking meals for you that could contain animal products.
Make your requests respectfully, and your hosts might even participate in your vegan lifestyle during the length of your stay.
You could offer to cook one night. This will give you the opportunity to serve them a delicious vegan meal while repaying for their hospitality.
Airlines usually have vegan and vegetarian meal options available, but they most likely need to be booked in advance.
You should book these meals as early as possible to ensure if they’re available and that they can be pre-prepared.
Nobody likes to be stuck on a long flight without having anything to eat.
Even if you have thoroughly researched the destination and the airline company guarantees vegan food will be ready, one of the most useful tips is to pack your own vegan snacks too.
Consider bringing vegan-friendly road trip foods that contain a trail mix containing nuts, legumes, dried fruit, seeds, and other foodstuffs.
Things like curry powder, salt, olive oil, and brown rice are also nice-to-have throughout your travels.
Although vegan dining is becoming increasingly popular across the world, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Vegan restaurants are typically the best option, however, not all places serve meat-free dishes - nor are they obliged to.
If you are out and about and feeling peckish but cannot find any restaurants offering vegan options - get creative.
Try replacing meat or animal-based products with something a little more suitable.
For example, replace the minced red meat in burritos with extra rice, potato, guacamole, and tomato sauce.
No veggie burgers? Ask for some more vegetables or get those extra side dishes rolling.
While you may not be 100% certain that no animal ingredients have been used, don’t worry about it too much.
As long as you are doing your best to avoid eating produce from animals, you’ll be fine.
Being vegan is not just what we eat, but also the type of products we use too.
In order to ensure we are using vegan-friendly toiletries and cosmetics, you may want to stock up on some before you travel.
Nowadays, there are plenty of health-food stores that stock travel-sized products that haven’t been tested on animals.
You may also want to consider using the toiletries you have at home, so fill your own empty containers.
Nowadays, the internet helps find vegan or vegetarian restaurants much easier.
With Instagram, you can search for #hashtags on pretty much anything you are interested in.
The same goes for Pinterest.
Whether you are preparing for a short trip or perhaps a longer one, you will need to learn some useful phrases in the language used by the locals.
Of course, you don’t necessarily have to learn how to have a full-on conversation but learning a few key questions and sentences will go a long way.
Using an app or even Google Translate could help convey your preferences.
Social platforms are a useful tool for finding and meeting local vegans who can provide you with knowledge about the local cuisine.
It’s always good to have friends abroad because you may even get an invite for custom sightseeing tours and a decent vegan meal.
This passport is ideal for plant-based dieters in search for vegan options during their vegan travel adventures.
The passport is essentially a multilingual phrasebook available in 79 languages, which also includes pictures in case relying on words fails you.
If having to carry this booklet around with you sounds tedious, fear not, you can also download it to your phone as an app.
It may be a good idea before you book the hotel that you contact them to see how vegan-friendly they really are.
This may take a day or two, but it is well worth the effort. There’s nothing wrong with making doubly sure they are able to provide you with what you need.
Many hotels and hostels usually offer vegan-options for breakfast, but there are cases where the assortment is limited to a carton of soya milk.
Who knows, you might even be the first vegan they have ever had to accommodate so be patient and try to explain what they could do to improve on serving “our kind” next time.
If your hotel or the hostel has a kitchen - well, then there is no excuse for not being able to follow your vegan diet and to cook your favorite meals while traveling.
Many hostels possess a communal kitchen that you could use, or perhaps you could consider renting a room or apartment when browsing through those Airbnb host lists.
Always be open to the probability that you will not be able to get the best selection of plant-based foods in the local grocery stores.
The solution might be to look for the local farmers market as they tend to source the freshest and most diverse local ingredients for your vegan recipes.
Besides individual plant-based ingredients on sale, you may also find pre-prepared vegan meals available too.
Being vegan, we’re already used to asking employees in restaurants to make recipe alterations.
Just because you are traveling does not mean you should shy away from making such inquiries.
Perhaps asking in the local language will help the server understand clearly what you are looking for.
Then again, there are people across the world who don’t understand a thing about what being a vegan entails - and that’s OK.
You won’t know, unless you cross that language barrier.
Spending a little time on learning about the local cuisine and whether any local delicacies are suitable for your vegan lifestyle is always a good tip, especially if you’re into writing travel blogs.
Some cultures aren’t familiar with veganism, but that does not mean the local meals they make won’t be suitable for you.
While you are on a road trip while on vacation, it is worthwhile employing your social skills to the fullest. After all, why not?
In other words, people may surprise you and you might even find a fellow vegan on your travels. Once you have struck up a conversation, feel free to ask for suggestions about vegan places.
If random social encounters make you anxious, then you perhaps check out websites like Couchsurfing, or Meetup to contact fellow vegans directly. Websites like Veggie Visa or Happy Cow can also be quite useful. In fact, some say Happy Cow is like a vegan travelers Bible that's chock-full of easy-to-find vegan travel tips and restaurants.
Surprisingly, for those of you who are single, you may want to try apps like Tinder, since they’re a terrific way of meeting people (wink, wink).
This may sound a bit strange, however, attending yoga classes is also a great way to meet locals who also happen to be fellow vegans.
No matter the country you are in or the road you take, this kind of crowd is usually not that keen on eating eggs, cheese, and other dairy products.
Consequently, it will be easier to strike up a conversation with other attendees and ask for advice or recommendations for a great vegan restaurant.
Before you embark on your journey, it may be worth your while emailing or even phoning the local tourism association to see what suggestions they have for local vegan-friendly restaurants.
After all, it is the job of the tourism board to have this type of information available to travelers.
A ziplock bag or two can be quite useful when traveling as they can keep your snacks freshly stored when exploring the city or countryside.
You could even pack some lightweight plastic food boxes or cups to store food in for consumption later on.
These are perfect for pre-prepared vegan-friendly pasta dishes, nuts, oatmeal, and vegetarian noodles.
The challenge of finding shops selling plant based products is easily overcome with tools like Google Maps and Foursquare.
Before you travel, it may be a good idea to create a database of these stores and what they have available.
You can then keep this list online on the cloud or you could email it to yourself.
Ensuring a full vegan travel experience may require more effort than usual, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
To be honest, yes, some countries make preparations difficult. Take Vietnam for example - they put fish sauce on literally everything.
However, if you follow our travel tips, download a helpful app or two, and just surrender to your adventure - you will have no trouble finding vegan food pretty much anywhere.
Of course, there may be times where you won’t be able to uphold your beliefs as strictly as possible, but that’s OK.
Don’t forget, you are doing your best - and that’s what counts.
As more and more people start to adopt a plant based diet, the vegan travel destinations are popping all over the world.
In the long run, these very tips might just pave the way to a better tourism experience tomorrow.