Did you know that around 8 percent of Americans identify as either vegetarian or vegan? While this statistic is small, the plant-based movement continues to grow and grow.
Many supermarkets and restaurant chains are beginning to cater to the dietary needs of vegans and vegetarians. For example, Carl’s Jr. and Burger King have recently added plant-based burger options to their menu, and it’s only a matter of time before McDonald’s gives in to popular demand.
Depending on where you live in the U.S., maintaining a plant-based diet can be relatively easy, but what about staying true to the green mindset while traveling abroad? While it can be a little tricky to find delicious options overseas, it’s by no means impossible. We’ve made it even easier for you by preparing a comprehensive vegan travel guide.
Keep reading to learn about 10 useful tips for vegetarian and vegan travel.
1. Do Your Research
Until the rest of the world catches up with us herbivores, it’s a cold hard fact that we simply can’t eat at whatever restaurant we please. This is why one of the most important vegan travel tips is to do your research ahead of time.
Use travel blogs and travel sites to your advantage. Websites like Yelp and TripAdvisor can point you in the right direction and allow you to pick out the best restaurants in the cities you plan on visiting.
Of course, just because a restaurant is vegan or vegetarian doesn’t mean it’s automatically worth your time and money. In addition to finding nearby plant-based restaurants, it’s crucial that you dedicate some time to reading the reviews that people leave.
Comparing and contrasting peoples’ impressions can help you to decide on the very best places to eat. As an added bonus, many people will post photos on their blogs or with their reviews so you’ll be able to whet your appetite in anticipation.
2. Download a Translation App
Unless you have a working knowledge of the native language when traveling, you’ll want to download a nifty translation app, such as Google Translate.
This will help a vegan traveler immensely when trying to communicate with a waitress, for example. With the Google app, you can actually take pictures of a menu or the ingredients listed on a package and then translate the text.
It doesn’t always come out perfect but, usually, you can get a generally enough idea of whether or not the product is vegetarian or vegan.
Just to be safe, you should also take the time to write down words and phrases that pertain to the kinds of food products you want to avoid, such as meat, eggs, or milk. Keep the list on your phone or in your wallet and look for those red flag words in ingredients lists or show it to your server to make communication more clear and certain.
3. Get Vegan Apps
Technology has truly made vegan traveling much easier than in the past. There are lots of apps out there that are tailor-made for plant-based travelers.
Veggie Hotels, for example, can help you identify hotels that cater specifically to vegetarians and vegans. This way, you can literally rest easy knowing that a delicious, cruelty-free breakfast awaits you in the morning and that it comes from a kitchen that isn’t contaminated with animal products.
The Happy Cow app is another great tool to take with you during your travels. With information on over 180 countries, it can help you discover the best plant-based restaurants, shops, and more. It’ll make you as happy as the cows whose lives you’re saving.
4. Pack a Variety of Vegan Treats
You’re bound to get a little hungry while traveling and waiting during layovers, so you should prepare by packing lots of your favorite vegan snacks in your carry-on bags.
If you enjoy a nice big cookie, then you can’t go wrong with Lenny & Larry’s Complete Cookies. They have a variety of delicious flavors, including the classic chocolate chip, birthday cake, snickerdoodle, and more.
Hippeas, a company that is partly owned by the one and only Leonardo DiCaprio, is a wonderful alternative to Cheetos. The nacho vibes flavor is to die for.
You shouldn’t forget about all the accidentally vegan treats, too, such as Sour Patch Kids, Takis, and Nutter Butters, just to name a few. With so many options, there’s no reason you should shell out a ton of cash for a plant-based snack at the airport.
5. Stick to Bigger Cities
If you’re traveling to Poland, for example, you’ll want to go to one of the bigger cities, such as Krakow, where you can eat at the amazing restaurant Vegab, which serves vegan kebabs, hamburgers, and hotdogs.
On the other hand, you’ll want to avoid the smaller cities, such as Tarnoberzg, because the options for food will be severely limited and you might find yourself with just french fries and ketchup for dinner. Thus, in the smaller cities and towns, you should consider yourself lucky if you find a vegetarian restaurant.
However, if your travels must take you to a smaller city with fewer options, you could look into briefly renting a place with a kitchen so that you can cook most of your meals.
6. Visit the Local Farmer’s Market
Instead of going to a big, supermarket chain where you’re likely to find expensive fruits and vegetables, you can get your produce and more from a local farmer’s market.
Not only will it be much cheaper but it will also be fresher. Plus, you get to support people instead of massive corporations.
Once you’ve filled your reusable tote bags to their brims, you can lug your delicious treasures back to your temporary home and cook up a genuine vegan feast.
7. Hack Your Street Vendor Food
There’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to enjoy the street vendor food in whatever your country you’re visiting.
It’s possible that a vendor can accommodate you by altering their dishes. This is another scenario in which your translation app can come in handy.
Many of the street food vendors in Asia, for instance, use fish sauce in their culinary creations, but if you prepare ahead of time by bringing your own bottle of soy sauce as a replacement, the vendor should be more than happy to make the change for you.
8. Hang Out with Local Vegans
No one is better able to navigate the labyrinth of meat and cheese than the actual vegans who live in the city you’re visiting. If you’re an extrovert, then you definitely shouldn’t miss an opportunity to hang out with some of the city’s local vegans.
Meetup is a phenomenal app that you can use to find local people around the world with interests similar to your own. There’s a chat function so you could make friends in Paris or Prague before you even set foot there.
On the whole, vegans are extremely pleasant people who care deeply about the earth and their fellow animals, so you shouldn’t have too much of a problem meeting nice people who might even become lifelong friends.
9. Couchsurf Vegan-Style
Now, if you’re a really social person, then couchsurfing with local vegans might just be the adventure for you. Since you’ll be staying with your own kind, you won’t have to worry about animal products contaminating their homes, especially the kitchens. Best of all, you’ll be saving money while meeting awesome new people.
In order to show your gratitude and be a good guest, you might want to offer your host a vegan meal cooked by yours truly. If you’re not much of a cook, they’ll probably be very curious about the vegan goodies you’ve got hidden in your luggage. You’re likely to have something they’ve never tried before.
10. Go to Dublin or Another Top Vegan-Friendly Country
If you’re traveling vegan, why not make it as convenient as possible and choose one of the top vegan-friendly countries in the world? As the realities of climate change and animal welfare continue to become a global concern, more and more cities are catering to the greenest movement out there.
Did you know that Dublin, Ireland is the most vegan-friendly city in the world with over 20 percent of its restaurants catering to those with a plant-based diet? Additionally, Phuket, Amsterdam, and London are not too far behind on the list. If you’re still deciding on where to even go during your trip, you should certainly consider these cities as a possible destination.
Ready to Take Advantage of These Vegetarian and Vegan Travel Tips?
Now that you know all about how to thrive during a vegetarian and vegan travel adventure, you can start planning the ultimate trip.
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