Unless you eat a lot of processed food, as a vegan, you’re probably used to making a lot of your own food from scratch. If you’re on the road and don’t have access to a kitchen, it can be quite a challenge to find appropriate food in a place you don’t know well or where you don’t speak the local language.
But don’t panic! We’ve asked a vegan flight attendant for help and she shared her best survival tips for vegans on the road! Read on!
Although more and more restaurants are serving vegan and vegetarian meals, it can be quite frustrating to sit down at the only eatery you found after walking for hours and not seeing a single vegetarian or vegan option on the menu. But don’t worry, you’d be surprise how open to the challenge most chefs are. Ask to speak with the chef, they can usually throw a few things together on your plate and make you a decent vegan meal.
If you want to explore the vegan dining scene, though the app “Happy cow” is just what you need! Happy Cow was actually one of the first initiatives helping travelers find vegan and vegetarian options around the world, back in 1999. The website features 7,300 listings in more than 100 countries and includes cafes, restaurants as well as food stores and food markets, which you can also access to through an app.
In order to find vegan or vegetarian options around where you are, simply visit their website or download the app. Once you have entered your location, you can refine your search by choosing whether you are looking for a “vegan”, “vegetarian” or “veg friendly” place to eat.
Another useful feature is the map view, which shows all the vegan and vegetarian restaurants and cafes around you, this is specially relevant when you actually are not quite sure where in town you are!
Find Me a Kitchen
If you can’t afford eating out or prefer to make your own food, a good idea is to stay in a rented apartment, where you have access to a kitchen. Airbnb is the universal home-sharing platform that allows travelers to find accommodation at private people’s houses all around the world. Use the Happy Cow app to find a local store selling vegan ingredients around where you are staying and enjoy your cooking!
Unfortunately, sometimes you don’t find vegan shops around your airbnb stay or your airbnb hosts can’t help you find shops to buy vegan ingredients, that’s why VegVisits was created. Vegvisits is “the vegan version of Airbnb”. It helps you find vegan-friendly places to stay for the night, or even a kitchen you can rent by the hour. The website also links you to local vegan events and local vegan host that are happy to help you find the best places and resources for vegans in town! This website is a vegan travel dream!
If you are not able to find accommodation with either Airbnb and Vegvisits, you might want to consider staying at a hostel, which usually provide access to a kitchen where you can also make your own meals.
There is also a long list of vegetarian and vegan-friendly hotels and bed and breakfasts, which means that their menus offer a vegetarian or vegan cuisine. Sometimes these listings also include accommodation serving organic food and access to health centers or yoga retreats too.
Lost in translation
Sometimes, you just can’t find a vegan eatery, though. That’s why “The vegan passport” is a must-have for all vegan travelers. Although it is possible to communicate in English in most tourist cities around the world, sometimes things can be a bit more complicated. If you’re not eating at a vegan eatery, how do you make sure that the stir fry you order at a street shop in Korea does not have fish sauce? That’s where “The vegan passport” comes in! This multilingual vegan phrasebook and app boasts 79 languages, including Hausa, Igbo, Xhosa and Zulu, covering 96% of the world’s languages! The guide also includes fail-safe pictures for when words just don’t work, ensuring that you will be able to explain what you do eat and don’t eat, anywhere in the world.
If you are taking a long distance flight, you will be served a meal. Most airlines serve both vegan and vegetarian meal options, but you need to make sure to book your preference at least 48 hours in advance. The code for vegetarian meal is VLML (lacto vegetarian) and for vegan, VGML. Once on board, the flight attendant will come confirm the meal with you. If nobody comes, it is OK to ask a flight attendant to check for you. Unfortunately, sometimes special requests are not entered into the system so the flight attendant might offer your something else. For situations like this, it is always smart to carry a few snacks with you on the plane.
When everything Else Failed…
It is always smart to take a pack of biscuits or rice cakes in your suitcase, just in case you get stuck somewhere or your special meal requirement for the flight was not entered into the system, as mentioned before. Some countries might not allow you to come in with fruits and/or vegetables, and some of them would even fine you for it, so make sure you carry packaged food. Chips, cereal bars, bagels and muffins would be safer options to go through customs.
There are other aspects to keep in mind when traveling as a vegan and that is the use of animals in the tourist industry. PETA wrote a great article for compassionate travelers, that is worth checking out. PETA’s website also offers great tips for travelling with animals and vegan-friendly destinations around the world.
There are also many vegans traveling around the world and sharing their experiences through travel blogs. One example of this is Caryl and Paul’s blog, “Vegan food quest”. They travel the world finding, eating and writing about the best vegan food on the planet.
Wherever you are going though, keep in mind the tips above so that you can accommodate your lifestyle to endless travel adventures.