Author: Kristen Kuchar

10 Easy Tips for Eating Vegan While Traveling

Just because you don’t eat meat, eggs, dairy or other animal products, doesn’t mean you have to do without with fantastic travel experiences. That said, eating vegan on the road can present more challenges than it does at home. Here are my ten best tips for how to eat vegan while traveling.

1. Seek out vegan-friendly spots

 Before your trip (and during), do some research on the great vegan restaurants to check out. Here are some places to help you search:

  • Yelp: Simply type “vegan” in the “find” tab and your location and see what pops up. Read reviews to see what others are saying about a spot’s vegan options.
  • HappyCow: finds restaurants and stores near your location that are vegan, vegetarian, and veg-friendly. Click on a restaurant to read reviews and check out photos posted from other users.  Download their app to take with you on the road.
  • Search by continent, by airport, or type in your destination on to search veg-friendly spots on this community-maintained guide.
  • Browse vegan restaurants, activities, and accommodations all across the world on Vegan Travel. Check out their travel guides for videos and blogs contributed by the vegan community from specific places around the world.
  • Your destination’s official tourism page: If there is an official tourism website for your destination, type in vegan in the search field. Results may yield a list of restaurants or even a complete guide.
  • TripAdvisor: Find vegan options at nearby restaurants on TripAdvisor. Once your results appear, you can filter your search by neighborhood, price, cuisine, and meal type.
  • Google: A quick google search with vegan plus your destination can turn up awesome guides and articles, round-ups, and of course, a list of restaurants.  
  • Your accommodations: Ask the staff at your hotel if they know of any meat- and dairy-free options in the area.

2. Get social

 Find out what types of vegan organizations are in the area you’re visiting. Groups around the globe get together at restaurants serving vegan foods or even host potlucks. There just might be a scheduled outing when you’re planning on being there. Check out Facebook and gathering sites like MeetUp to see what’s out there.

3. Pack your favorite snacks

 If you’re able to bring them along, pack some easy-to-transport snacks to keep with you while you travel. Opt for easy to eat, protein-packed, healthy, and items that aren’t going to leave a mess. Nut butter on whole-wheat bread,  healthy protein bars, roasted chickpeas, nuts, and homemade granola or trail mix are all good options.

4. Contact restaurants ahead of time

eat vegan on your trip
 Don’t rule out non-vegan restaurants. Even if a restaurant doesn’t boost a wide vegan selection, call or e-mail them to inquire about how they accommodate vegans. You’d be surprised how many dishes can easily be made vegan by simply omitting or swapping a few ingredients. The chef may also be happy to make you a special meal.

5. Stay somewhere with a kitchen

 Consider opting for accommodations where you’d be able to cook, such as a hotel with a kitchen, renting a home or condo, or even a hostel with a shared kitchen. Cooking some of your own meals with local ingredients can give you a real authentic, unique culinary experience while traveling. And of course, you’re able to control the ingredients so you know you’re enjoying a vegan meal.

6. Or at least get a fridge and microwave

Can’t swing an entire kitchen for your stay? A fridge is perfect for storing leftovers and easy meal starters, such as non-dairy yogurt, nut milk for cereal, hummus, and veggies.

7. Know where the nearest grocery store is

stay stocked up with your favorite vegan foods at local grocery stores
 Map out where the nearest grocery stores and open markets are in each destination. Then you can visit the nearest stores, as well as farmer’s markets, to replenish your vegan snack supply and stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables. It’ll save you money on eating out, too.

8. Familiarize yourself with common phrases in the local language

Ordering a meal in a spot with a language barrier can be hard enough, and adding explaining your dietary needs to the mix can be a real challenge. Learn useful phrases that can let you properly ask about ingredients or communicate what to leave out. You can even opt for purchasing a translation card from SelectWisely. The laminated cards illustrate you don’t eat meat, eggs, shellfish, or milk products in Portuguese, Turkish, Vietnamese, and a dozen more languages.

9. Don’t forget your toiletries

 If you also prefer to use vegan beauty and hygiene products, don’t leave out travel-sized essentials. If you’re staying at a hotel that offers toiletries as part of your stay, call and ask whether they are vegan. If you’re not sure, simply pack your own soaps, hair products, and other essentials. Having trouble finding travel-sized options? Buy TSA-approved empty bottles and fill them up with the products you use at home.

10. Fly with airlines that offer vegan meals in-flight

cook vegan food at your rental on your trip

When you can, try to fly with an airline that offers vegan meals and snacks in flight like those listed below.

United Airlines: Special vegan meals can be ordered by request when a breakfast, lunch, or dinner is scheduled on the flight and when it is at least 24 hours before departure. Request your meal while booking or add it to your MileagePlus account. If you’re booking your United flight through a third-party site, you’ll need to call customer service.

Virgin Atlantic Airlines: Request your vegan meal while booking your flight no later than 48 hours before your flight. This meat- and dairy-free meal is available on all flights.

Singapore Air: Simply manage your booking information to request a special vegan meal.

American Airlines: If your flight has meal service, call 24 hours in advance to ask for your special meal. They also ask you let your gate agent and flight attendants know that ordered a special meal. Menus vary to reflect seasonal and fresh ingredients.

Qatar Airways: Vegan meal options are available by requesting one at the time of booking or contact your local Qatar Airways office up to 24 hours before you take off.

Cathay Pacific: This Hong Kong-based airline flies to 162 destinations and offers  high-protein, high-calcium, iron-rich vegan meals.

Do you have any travel tips for vegans? We’d love to hear from you.

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Photo Credits: alicjaneAnna ShepulovastaRobert Fowler.