Maintaining your current vegan lifestyle is probably quite easy. You know where to buy the best and freshest ingredients and you are aware of which eateries serve vegan fare. Once you decide to travel, however, you will find that having a vegan diet while traveling isn’t as simple.
While vegetarian and vegan diets are becoming more commonplace, this isn’t true for every country. So, although wayfaring is still possible, you need to be aware of the situations you might have to face. Below, you will find all the tips and tricks that you need to know how to maintain your vegan diet while traveling:
Map an Easy Route
If you don’t want to stress about your vegan diet while traveling, it is best to stick with cities that are known for being vegan-friendly. You will be pleasantly surprised to learn that there are quite a few spots that will cater to your restrictive diet. If you are headed for Europe, then Berlin, Budapest, Warsaw, and Prague should top your list of must-visit spots.
In case you like to explore Asia, Ho Chi Minh City, Taipei, Chiang Mai, and Chennai will serve up a vegan fare. In North America, you should find it relatively easy to find at least a few spots that will either offer vegan food or make the necessary substitutions.
Prepare to Explain Yourself
It is quite likely that most people you come across have a vague idea of what vegan means. Therefore, you may have gotten used to simply informing people that you are vegan and being confident in knowing that you will be understood. This isn’t always the case when you are traveling.
As mentioned, the term vegan has become popular. So much so that there are words and phrases that you can use to describe your lifestyle decisions. However, just because you use a particular term doesn’t mean that everyone will understand you. In fact, in rural areas especially, you can be quite certain that most people will not comprehend what you are trying to say.
So, rather than trying to complicate things, make it as easy as possible. Instead of telling people you are vegan, learn how to say, “I don’t eat meat, fish, eggs, or dairy”. This will give the people preparing food or taking your order a clearer idea of what you mean.
Use Effective Tactics
It is important to remember that a lot of people will not appreciate the significance of your vegan diet while traveling. Most would imagine that it is quite acceptable for you to consume some form of animal, egg, or dairy product as long as you aren’t aware of it. Thus, you may find that some of these ingredients are included in your food despite your instructions.
This is why some travelers have more success mentioning that they are allergic to specific foods. Restaurants, in particular, will take allergies quite seriously. Therefore, they would go to additional lengths to make sure that those ingredients are not added to your dish.
Do Your Research on Food Trends
Now, when ordering food in a foreign country, it is easy enough to keep an eye on the main ingredients. After all, if you were to see a piece of meat or egg in your food, then you would know that it was a non-vegan dish. What you don’t have as much control over, though, is the less obvious ingredients that go into the food.
For instance, in Thailand, there are several vegetarian dishes that may be cooked in fish oil. Or, in India, many of the curries and vegetables will have some sort of dairy component. In Europe, you may find cream, milk, and eggs even in certain items like bread.
It is considering all of this that you need to have a basic understanding of the food trends in a particular type of cuisine. This way, you will be able to inform chefs and cooks to avoid a particular ingredient that isn’t actually vegan.
Identify Vegan Spots Beforehand
There are plenty of apps, vegan blogs, and more that will make it easier for you to discover what restaurants and cafes are actually vegan. This is why it’s in your best interests to figure out where these areas are before you go to a country. Then, in a pinch, you will know exactly where to head to for a quick meal.
Believe it or not, social media apps like Instagram can be really helpful as well. For one thing, you can follow people who are vegans and spend much of their time traveling. These individuals will do most of the heavy lifting for you and you can simply make a note of the places they visit or dishes that they sample.
You can also search for hashtags that involve both veganism as well as travel. These will be perfect for figuring out all those hidden areas around the world that will serve unusual but authentic vegan fare. Therefore, such an effort can really pay off.
Download Instant Translation Apps
Now, your next meal while traveling will not always be in a restaurant. Sometimes, you may want to pick something up at a local store. However, things will get a little tricky when all the ingredients on the packet are printed in a language that you don’t understand. Not to worry, though, as there is a solution.
These days, there are plenty of instant translation apps. With these, you simply have to point your phone’s camera and take a picture of the ingredient list. Then, you will be presented with the meanings of all these words. This will help you decide if what you’re buying is truly vegan.
This is also a great app to have when visiting restaurants where menus are only written in the native tongue. If you use this method, you will not need to have confusing conversations with the waiter either. Instead, it will be simply a matter of pointing and clicking.
Take Your Own Food Stash With You
The thing about traveling is that, at times, it may be unpredictable. So, even if you have planned your itinerary fully, there is still a chance that you may find yourself veering off the beaten path. In this case, you may not be able to find any eateries with 100 percent vegan fare.
To avoid starving, it is important to stock up on vegan snacks before you hop on a plane. Go to your favorite vegan store and get nutritious and easy-to-carry food items like granola bars or trail mix. If you are heading to an area that isn’t known for its vegan tendencies, then you may want to buy some non-dairy milk, creamer, and cereals as well.
What’s nice about carrying vegan treats is that it allows you to have a bit more flexibility while you are traveling. As long as you have these on hand, you will not mind skipping a meal and doing some exploring instead.
Rethink Your Accommodation Options
If you are planning on heading to a remote area or you just can’t seem to find any vegan restaurants or cafes, then you need to reconsider your accommodation. Staying in hotels and motels is only going to limit your dining options even further. So, you may just want to rent out an apartment or house that is equipped with a kitchen.
This way, you can buy the ingredients you need at a local store and cook them up yourself. It is a sure-fire way to guarantee that all of your dishes will be completely vegan. Not to mention, if you have your own place, you can also cook and pack meals for when you are going out as well. So, this could solve a multitude of problems for you.
Be Prepared to Stick to a Limited Diet
There are some countries and cities that are really not vegan-friendly at all. These include spots like Russia, the Philippines, Iceland, and France. While you may find the odd vegan spot, it is unlikely that you will come across suitable eateries too often.
Now, your main option, of course, is to avoid going to these countries at all. If you still don’t want to limit yourself in terms of travel, though, you might have to skimp on your diet a little. Therefore, you may find yourself living on bread, rice, and noodles for much of your journey.
If this is a situation that you are likely to face, you may want to take certain supplements with you, just in case. This way, even if your diet isn’t always completely nutritious, you can be certain that you get all the required vitamins and minerals that you need to keep you fit and healthy.
There is nothing stopping you from becoming a vegan explorer. Sure, you may need to do some additional preparation before and during your journey. Not to mention, you will have some fairly awkward conversations. These circumstances notwithstanding, you are sure to have a wonderful time. With these tips, you can now maintain your vegan diet while traveling!
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