Traveling can lead to some of the most profound experiences of your life and to countless memories you’ll never forget.
But it can also be stressful and challenging at times, particularly if your dietary lifestyle differs from the norm.
For many travelers trying the local cuisine is an experience they don’t want to miss. For vegans, finding places that provide plant-based meals is difficult.
And it’s even more challenging to find restaurants that offer vegan options and allow you to sample the local cuisine.
Naturally, this will always depend on your destination, as some places are a lot more vegan friendly than others.
But regardless of where you are going, you’ll find valuable tips for how to eat vegan while traveling in this post.
Let’s get started! ✈️
Research restaurants before your arrival
For a relaxed and memorable trip, it pays to arrive at your destination prepared.
Consult google, vegan travel blogs, and the Happy Cow app to get a basic idea of how vegan-friendly your destination is.
Jot down restaurant and café recommendations that are entirely vegan, as well as those that offer vegan options.
If you want to be a super-achiever, print out a map of your destination and mark all the vegan/vegan-friendly spots. This way, no matter where you are, you always know what options are nearby.
Still, be flexible, particularly if you travel with others. Plus, you never know what fantastic place you might stumble upon.
Summary: By researching vegan restaurants beforehand, you arrive prepared. You can be spontaneous or fall back on the options you jotted down.
Stay at an Airbnb
If you like to retain the most control over what you eat, staying at an Airbnb with a fully equipped kitchen can be a great option.
Doing so allows you to check out grocery stores and purchase (local) ingredients.
You can also pack a lunch if you have an adventure-filled day planned. Cooking your own food is also a great way to travel on a budget.
Despite the many perks, make sure you don’t miss out on all the local cuisine.
By going out to eat a few times or spending time in cafés, you can get a glimpse into what life is really like in your destination.
Summary: Staying at an Airbnb allows you to prepare your own meals, so you always have something delicious to eat. But be sure you don’t miss out on all the local cuisine.
Visit local farmer’s markets
One of the best ways to experience local specialties is by visiting a farmers market. There you can check out foods that were made and grown in the area.
Plus, you can chat with the farmers. You can also pick up some ingredients to cook with or snack.
Summary: Visiting farmer’s markets is a great way to try local specialties and talk to the people who made/grew the food.
Learn basic phrases in the native language of your destination
It depends on where you are traveling to, but it helps not to assume that everyone speaks English (unless it is an English-speaking country).
So, when you go to order food, it may prove helpful to be able to explain what you eat and don’t eat in the native language.
Also, keep in mind that not everyone may know what it means to be vegan.
So, be prepared to explain and always stay patient and kind in your conversations.
Useful phrases to learn are
“I am vegan,”
“I do not eat meat/dairy/eggs/seafood,”
“Does this have meat/fish/butter/dairy/eggs in it?”
“Can I get this without cheese/meat/fish/milk/eggs etc.”
In addition to learning a few sentences, you can use The Vegan Passport app to help you communicate your dietary needs.
Summary: Learning basic phrases in the native language of your destination allows you to better communicate what you eat and don’t eat.
Contact your host/hotel and ask if they offer vegan foods
If breakfast or other meals are included in your stay, it’s a good idea to contact the hotel in advance and ask what vegan-friendly foods are available.
Some may offer a large variety, including vegan milk and yogurt, while at other places, the options may be severely limited.
With this knowledge, you may decide to purchase a few things at a local supermarket upon arrival (like plant milk/yogurt, spread for bread/toast).
Moreover, it’s a good idea to ask if foods that look (and usually are) vegan actually are.
Ask questions like: Is there dairy in the bread? Are veggies roasted in olive oil or butter? Is there gelatin in the jam?
If you stay at an Airbnb or other small BnB with breakfast included, contact your host as well. Most will be happy to accommodate you if they know plenty of time in advance.
When you contact your host/hotel, include a brief and simple list of what you eat and don’t eat.
By doing so, you can prevent any surprises. Some cultures may not be familiar with the term vegan.
Moreover, it often happens (even in my home country) that people confuse veganism and vegetarianism. So play it safe by providing clear information.
Summary: Contact your hotel/host beforehand and inform them of your eating choices and ask what options they have available for you. This way, you know what to expect and can prepare accordingly.
Consider loosening your rules a bit
Traveling can be a lot more pleasurable if you don’t worry so much about what you eat and don’t eat.
I usually follow a whole-foods vegan diet, but when I’m traveling, I’m okay with eating anything, as long as it is vegan.
Naturally, I try to choose healthy options, but I also don’t mind making exceptions.
I find it makes the experience of traveling more enjoyable when I don’t stress about what I eat all the time.
If it’s vegan, I’ll have it. Most of the time, I’m so thrilled when restaurants offer a vegan option that I happily take it. Besides, any excuse to eat pizza, right?
Summary: Not being super strict with what you eat and don’t eat while you travel can make the experience more pleasurable. As long as it’s vegan, enjoy it without guilt.
Contact the local tourism office for recommendations
I know, in times of google, this tip may seem outdated. Yet, it only takes a few minutes, and you may discover a gem or two.
The people at the tourism office may point you to some local spots that offer vegan and local cuisine or secret places that don’t get the attention they deserve.
Moreover, they may know of restaurants that are happy to accommodate vegans. This tip may be a hit or miss, but since it doesn’t take up much time, I think it’s worth a shot.
Summary: Contact the local tourism office and ask for their recommendations for vegan/vegan-friendly restaurants and cafes.
Take the easy route by staying at a vegan/vegan-friendly accommodation
Depending on where you are going, staying at a vegan/vegan-friendly hotel may not always be possible. But if it is, it can make your life a lot easier.
There’ll be lots of options for you to choose from, and you may meet other awesome vegans yay!
Summary: Make it easy on yourself by staying at a vegan/vegan-friendly accommodation, if available.
Bring something to eat on the plane and snacks for the trip
Traveling to a new destination can be exhausting and even more so if you are hungry. Vegan options at an airport may not be available, and if they are, they are likely super overpriced.
The chances that you get a vegan meal on an airplane are not always great, even if you paid for it in advance. (See flyvegan.org, where people rate their experience with vegan airplane food.)
For that reason, you always want to fly prepared by bringing food and snacks for the journey.
Sandwiches are my go-to as a meal. If it’s a long-haul flight, I may bring two. I also take some nuts, bliss balls, and some fruit.
Once I arrive at my destination, I like visiting a local store to pick up snacks. This way, I always have plenty of energy for all the adventures that await me.
Moreover, it saved me many times when I was out and about and got hungry, and no vegan food options were insight.
Further, snacks are great to have on hand when you are at a restaurant, where vegan options are limited. This way, you can eat what they offer and then fill up with snacks later.
Summary: Always bring food to eat with you on the plane. Sandwiches, nuts, and fruit are some great options. Once you arrive at your destination, go to a store, and pick up snacks for your trip.
Create your meal at a restaurant
If you find yourself at a restaurant, and they do not offer any vegan options, feel free to get creative, and create your meal.
You can start with a salad minus anything that is not vegan (don’t forget about the dressing). Then build the main dish from sides and appetizers.
You can ask for steamed vegetables, cooked legumes, rice (make sure it’s not prepared with butter), fries, or whatever else they have on the menu that already is vegan or can be veganized.
If you know ahead of time that you will go to a particular restaurant, call ahead and ask what vegan options they can offer you.
Summary: If a restaurant doesn’t offer any vegan meals, create your own meal from the sides, or ask for basics such as steamed veggies and rice.
Get in contact with locals over social media
For great insider tips, get in contact with locals over social media. Ask them for their recommendations and favorite spots.
They also know best which places are vegan-friendly and which are not.
They can also give you tips for supermarkets that offer a variety of vegan food options.
Further, they may tell you about places that are worth checking out that aren’t overflowing with tourists.
Plus, you may be able to form new friendships. What’s better than that? 😃
Summary: Receive valuable tips and recommendations by connecting with vegan locals on social media.
Summary: How to eat vegan while traveling
What is your next destination? 🧳🗺️