Vegan Vacationing is Easier than you Think
Winter’s finally over!! REJOICE. Now that we’ve kissed it goodbye, it’s the perfect time to travel. Well… any time is the best time for travel, but you get what I’m saying.
Since a lot of my favorite people are on the road, I wanted to share some tips on living your best life while enjoying every minute of your trip.
Lets Face it.
There are so many articles floating around about how hard vegan travel is. It’s easy to read them and get discouraged. And we’ve all heard of switching to vegetarian, pescetarian or meat inclusive diets during travel just to avoid the hassle.
But here’s the thing. We live in the age of the internet! Information is on our side. And of course, adventures are best when we feel our best. So here are some ways to power your trip of a lifetime, stress-free, every time.
Finding plant-based restaurants.
There’s a pretty huge group of vegans that love travel, just like you. And vegans usually love helping each other out, so it’s easy to find reviews of cool vegan friendly restaurants, cafes, bakeries, you name it.
Here are my most reliable resources when I’m on the go:
1. Happy Cow is where it’s at for vegan restaurant reviews.
This site is designed specifically for you, so go ahead and breathe a sigh of relief.
Enter in an address and choose your filters: restaurant type (vegan, vegetarian, veg-options), stores and more (think bakeries, farmers markets, etc.), and cuisine type. Remember to sort the results by “open now” so your heart doesn’t get set on something that doesn’t open for hours.
Veg-options will give you the most results, since the restaurants that appear won’t be exclusively plant-based but will be vegan friendly. Happy Cow has a presence in more than 100 countries and an app that’s well worth the $3.99 to download.
2. Yelp is your friend.
Yelp is a heavy hitter in the restaurant world and it’s hip to lifestyle diets. It has a presence in more than 30 countries, so is another great website and app to keep in your back pocket.
To find a place that hits the spot, type in the kind of restaurant you’re craving and select the filters you need. You can filter for vegan, gluten free, and more. If you don’t know what you’re in the mood for, type in “restaurants,” filter for vegan, open now, and the walking distance you prefer, and then hit enter so you can get the food you want on your plate fast.
3. Vanilla Bean knows where the veggies are hiding.
Another great app to add to your arsenal. Like Happy Cow, Vanilla Bean focuses on vegan dining. Restaurant can be narrowed down to vegan, vegetarian or restaurants also serving fish and meat. You can filter for gluten-free dishes, organic ingredients, local ingredients, fair trade, and even raw.
4. Instagram and Pinterest work too.
Dale Davies has some excellent tips on vegan travel, including using social media to your advantage.
Once you’re logged into IG, type vegan related hashtags into the search bar to find some great dining options near you. Popular hashtags include “#vegantravel” and vegan and the city you’re in (“#vegandenver” or “#veganchicago,” for example).
For Pinterest, type in “vegan, restaurant, [and the city you’re in]” (e.g. - vegan, restaurant, Miami) to find tons of great guides in the area.
5. Meetup can help you find hidden gems.
If you’re ready to make new friends that share your interests and have the inside scoop on the best local vegan fare, Meetup is a great way to connect.
While I truly believe that *most* of the time you’ll be able to find something satisfying and vegan in any situation, some world foods are just more vegan friendly than others. If a vegan or vegetarian restaurant isn’t an option, you’ll have the easiest time dining at one of these types of restaurants:
Deconstructing Menus to be more plant-Based
You’ve probably heard that calling restaurants ahead of time will make your visit a lot easier. You can ask all the questions you want in the privacy of your own home (or Airbnb, hotel, hostel, etc.) without feeling annoying or slowing down service for other tables. Most of the time the person answering the phone really does want to help, so don’t be shy.
But let’s say you’re with friends or family who aren’t the restaurant review reading type. Or the planning type. Maybe you were walking around, got hungry, and they smelled something good and just went in. Don’t worry - you can do this.
1) First thing’s first. Read the menu. All of it.
Whether the menu has a vegetarian section or not, there’s usually at least one or two accidental vegan offerings that work great.
Salads are an obvious choice. Appetizers and soups can work really well too. So get creative and order as many as you need to.
Speaking of vegan creativity, read the meat entrees.
Don’t eat the meat! Ha.
But it helps to read those entree descriptions because the meats come with sides, a lot of which end up being vegan. If you add a few of those together, you end up with a delicious, thoughtfully prepared meal that most restaurants are more than happy to offer.
2. Now that you’ve decided what you want, look for the fine (or missing) print.
Just because the ingredients listed are all vegan doesn’t mean something non-vegan hasn’t snuck into your dish.
While mentioning that you’re vegan works in some restaurants, in others it won’t have you totally covered. To be safe, get familiar with non-vegan ingredients found in different types of cuisine. Chicken broth and eggs are used in all kinds of food (remember pasta can be made from eggs too).
If you’re eating Chinese, Japanese, or other Asian foods, ask if your food has been prepared with fish sauce, oyster sauce, bonito flakes. If you’re having French or Italian, ask about dairy. And for more ideas, visit The Vegan Word.
3. If you’re really worried about being able to find something filling (or at all), it’s ok to eat a light meal beforehand.
There’s no shame in going to a restaurant prepared. You do you!
PS - If you’re traveling abroad, check out the Vegan Passport. Offered in 79 languages, its vegan words and phrases will give you the power to handle any situation clearly, sensitively and worry-free. And if there’s still a language barrier, it has pictures you can point to that get the message across.
Get Creative in the grocery stores
Packing snacks is not just for the moms in your life. It can make the difference between a successful vegan vacation or having to “compromise” when hanger strikes.
Here are some easy to find ingredients I buy for my own travels:
1. Green juice
I love starting my day with a veggie focused smoothie, but I’m not always within walking distance of a smoothie bar. Green juice is a close second that leaves me energized for the day ahead.
2. Fresh Fruit
My mornings are a love affair with fruit. You really can fill up on them if you eat enough. As with anything, seasonal is best. You can find the freshest, best options based on your vacation location here.
3. Alternative milk or yogurt and granola
Can you tell breakfast is heavy on my mind? It’s because most vegan restaurants open later in the day. Make yourself at home with a cozy bowl of cereal.
4. Peanut, almond or cashew butter
It’s the little things in life. Nut butters satisfy my inner child. I stay full and happy and I think you will too.
5. Nuts, Seeds and Dried Fruits
Making your own trail mix is super easy! And you don’t have to pick anything out since it’s designed just for you.
6. Granola bars
This is the easiest to pack snack ever! It will stay good the entirety of your trip, fit in your purse or pocket, and be the security blanket you need for your trip.
Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Aldi and most other grocery stores are pretty vegan friendly these days. So make sure to stop in and have a look
If you’re into cooking (even really basic stuff), booking a place to stay that includes kitchen access is always a great idea. It gives you a healthy option for when vegan restaurants are closed, far away, or you’re trying to stick to a budget.
In addition to hostels, you can look for places to stay through Airbnb, Vegvisits, or Couchsurfing. Vegvisits is specifically designed for vegans. Airbnb and Couchsurfing have plenty of vegan friendly offerings too (like vegan cooking classes from Airbnb hosts or vegan groups on Couchsurfing). Feel free to send your host questions about amenities, restaurants, events, or anything else related to your stay.
You can do this!
If you’re in the US, there are tons of vegans living in the city you’re visiting. And wherever you might be, other vegans who have been there too. Which is why you can find amazing city guides by Googling the city’s name and “vegan restaurant guide.”
Occasionally your dinner might end up being a granola bar, but with a good attitude, a little preparation and some creativity, you’re almost sure find an amazing vegan foodie scene wherever you are. And at the end of the day, there’s at least going to be some good wine and coffee waiting to be discovered :-)
Just another girl who is trying to inspire others. Passionate about health and fitness. And a love of coffee and peanut butter.