Holidays are essential for allowing us to recharge our batteries and unwind. However, you can face some challenges if you don’t plan ahead when you’re vegan. Luckily, it’s 2019 and the world is changing. It is generally easy to eat plant-based in most places and with a little planning, you’ll be able to enjoy some tasty meals with your family and friends. I have found amazing plant-based eats everywhere from Ho Chi Minh City to Madrid and I now really look forward to eating out while abroad.
Here are my best tips and they definitely apply to those with any dietary requirements: whether you’re gluten-free, dairy-free or plant-based.
1. Take the lead
When travelling with a group, do your research and choose a restaurant with vegan options. Sometimes an email in advance or quick call to the restaurant can prevent those awkward moments when you’re with a group. It also gives the restaurant time to think about a dish they could prepare for you and prevent panic. Most restaurants are very accommodating and nice about it. I tend to organise where we eat on holidays and make the bookings. Generally, friends and family are more than happy to take a backseat and let someone else take charge.
2. Use an app.
My go-to app is Happy Cow. It costs just £3.99 on the App store for iPhone users and is free for those with Android phones. The web version is also completely free. This app is invaluable as you can filter restaurants by vegan and vegetarian options. I love using it while travelling or even to discover new options near my flat. Reading reviews by other travellers is also great if you want the scoop on the best dishes. I also adore the A Billion Veg app which is free to download and donates to animal sanctuaries for every meal that you review.
3. Choose a place with self-catering.
I recommend choosing Airbnbs or places which have at least a basic kitchen with the essentials. This is especially important if I’m going away for more than a few days. After eating out for a few meals, I find myself craving a good old bowl of porridge in the mornings or a simple pasta in the evenings. Self-catering provides flexibility, allows you to save money and prepare meals or snacks on the go.
4. Don’t forget your supplements.
Remember to pack your Vitamin B12, a good probiotic and Vitamin D if it isn’t particularly sunny. Just because you’re travelling doesn’t mean, you should forgo what you take on a regular basis. This includes any other supplements that might be relevant for you.
5. Pack some essentials.
Whenever I travel, I always keep homemade date and nut bars in my suitcase along with fresh fruit, vegetable crisps, a carton of soya milk and bags of unsalted nuts. When I get to the local destination, I try to stock up on a few items such as oats and more fresh fruit like bananas. This is a great way to fill up while you’re on the road with healthy and nutritious foods.
6. Research the local cuisine.
Have a look at what dishes are regularly eaten in the place you’re travelling to and if any of them might be vegan or easily veganised. For example, masala dosa in India, gado gado salad in Indonesia, minestrone soup in Italy or doenjang jjigae in South Korea can all be plant-based (sometimes with a few tweaks). You’ll feel much more empowered going into local restaurants with this knowledge.
7. Learn the lingo.
Work out how to say “I’m vegan” and what you can and can’t eat e.g. “I can’t eat eggs.” Sometimes it helps to say what you can eat e.g. “I can eat beans, bread, passport, vegetables, fruits etc.” The Vegan Passport app from The Original Vegan Society can be especially helpful (£4.95) and covers the languages of 96% of the world’s population – from Mandarin to Zulu! It also includes pictures which can be helpful when words fail.
8. Check out vegan travel blogs/ YouTube.
There are so many incredible blogs out there and YouTube videos covering where to eat around the world. I usually just type in “vegan restaurants” and then the place I’m in. You can then check the rating of places on TripAdvisor or Happy Cow.
9. Search for Instagram hashtags.
If you’re on Instagram, search for relevant hashtags to find local plant-based eats. Headed to Barcelona? Try looking up #VeganBarcelona or #VegetarianBarcelona or #PlantBasedBarcelona
10. Don’t be hard on yourself.
Holidays are not a time to beat yourself up or get stressed. Sometimes, animal products accidentally sneak into our meals. I can’t count the number of times there have been accidental discoveries and I’ve found out there was cream in my pasta or eaten a piece of ham on a pizza. Just move on and remind yourself of the bigger picture to stay motivated- whether you’re doing it for the animals, environment or personal health.
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