It is an understandable question depending on where you are heading. However, I am glad to say in my experience so far ‘yes’. Yes, you can certainly survive your travels while sticking to a vegan diet. Vegan Travel is possible whilst eating some great meals too. I have managed to survive places such as Easter Island and Bolivia.
Let me give you my top tips for Vegan Travel.
Look for vegan restaurants – You don’t say?
As obvious as this is, a lot of people assume that the plant-based movement has not reached certain places in the world. They assume that vegan travel is not possible there. But this is simply not true. Finding a vegan restaurant has never been easier. I recommend installing the ‘HappyCow’ app. This will take your location and show you all the vegan/vegetarian restaurants close by and also any vegan/health food shops. These usually stock supplements, meat like products and non-dairy alternatives. Great if you have the means to cook.
Don’t dismiss non-vegan places
When we went to Easter Island I did laughably search to see whether there were any vegan restaurants on the island. Not surprisingly there weren’t. However, this did not stop us from being able to eat out whilst there. Many dishes can be made vegan. Each restaurant I went to seemed to have a vegetarian dish that we could alter. Most of the time we just had to ask for no cheese. Even for lunch we managed to get a great avocado sandwich with sweet potato fries.
It is always a good idea to learn a little bit of the lingo before you go to any new place. I think it can really come in handy and it is, of course, polite. Learn what the different meats are called in their language, along with milk and eggs. This way if you are checking ingredients you can quickly see what contains meat & dairy. The term ‘vegan’ or ‘vegetarian’ can be very misinterpreted and can even cause insult in certain places. When you are asking for an amended vegetarian dish I find it best to:
- Confirm there is no meat or poultry; and
- Ask if there is milk/dairy. Can it be altered? You can even say you are dairy intolerant then there will be no confusion.
Some non-vegan restaurants will unintentionally serve many vegan side dishes. You could always get a selection of side dishes to make up a main course.
Try and get a kitchen in your accommodation.
The easiest method by far is to try and find accommodation with some form of kitchen included. This way you will always be able to cook for yourself. Even in the most remote places you can always find lentils, beans, pasta, potatoes, porridge, fruit, nuts and seeds. I try and find avocados everywhere I go. Avocados are loaded with nutrients and helps you to get a good source of fat and protein into your diet. It is my go to food where ever I am.
Stock up on snacks
Most shops will stock some kind of snack bar, but these are usually loaded with sugar and milk. Your best bet is to find a health food or vegan shop. Here you should be able to find an array of granola/nut/fruit bars or treats that you can stock up on. Just have a glance at the nutritional information as you don’t want it to be overloaded with sugar.
This will make it easy for you to have some quick snacks at hand.
Or, how about making some simple granola bars yourself. I stumbled across a great 5 ingredient recipe. Check out the comments as they have great tips on how best to make and amend these.
Skin it cook it or leave it
Please always remember which country you are in. If you are in some of the poorer, less hygienic places, then be careful what you choose to eat. Don’t rush to eat the salads and fruit that cannot be peeled. Even if you think you have done a good job of washing them, be cautious. Always eat vegetables that have not been pre-cut. Make sure you can either cook it or peel it. If you can’t do one of them, for example berries or lettuce, then to be on the safe side leave it out.
I made this mistake when I first went to Bolivia. It is not a mistake I will be making again.
Grab some supplements
If like me, when you are in the comfort of your own home, then you have the best ingredients available to you. You know the supermarkets like the back of your hand and they stock pretty much everything you would need. I am indeed spoilt for choice at home and I like to take notice of my health and what I fuel my body with.
I do use supplements alongside a healthy balanced diet in my day to day life anyway. However, when you are travelling, little gems like spirulina and omegas really do come in handy. They are perfect for a little boost when you can’t get your usual dose of green goodness and antioxidants.
Nuts, seeds, peanut butter and avocados are a great way to get some good vegan fats into your diet. These are widely available. My only advice is to buy unsalted nuts and watch out for the sugar content in the peanut butter. Otherwise these are an awesome source of fats which are essential to your body. Good fats provide energy, help us to insulate our bodies and protect our organs. Fat has a key role in our absorption of nutrients and is most certainly a vital part of our diet.
Regardless of our fear of carbs we actually need a good source of carbohydrates more than anything else. It is our main source of fuel, which is needed for our brains to function and our organs to work effectively. Luckily for us there are a whole host of different carbohydrates which can act as a base for our meals. Some examples are wholemeal rice, pasta or bread, regular or sweet potatoes. You could even incorporate cous cous, quinoa or bulgur wheat depending on what you had available to you.
Oats are always a good way to start your day. You can cook them with water or milk alternative. Try adding cinnamon and chai seeds as an added health boost.
In addition to the nuts and seeds already in your diet, you can get your protein source from a vast array of foods. Beans and lentils are a great starting point. Lentils don’t require soaking overnight which makes them such a convenient choice. You can add lentils to pretty much any meal. If you buy dried chickpeas or certain types of beans then they may need soaking before cooking. Just plan ahead of time when you are making your meals. These legumes are also a very cheap alternative. If you are lucky and you have a vegan store close by then you could buy tofu, seitan or any other vegan alternative to meat.
Fruit and veggies
Depending on the country and area you are travelling to, I would recommend opting for fruit you are able to peel. Bananas, oranges, kiwi, and melons are usually widely available. Oh, and have I mentioned avocado? Make sure you wash your fruit before peeling or cutting the skin. When picking vegetables chose those that you can cook such as boiling broccoli, carrots or peas. Be careful of lettuce and pre-cut salad or herbs. Remember if you can’t cook it don’t risk it.
You can still obtain superfoods in some of the most unexpected places. For example, picking up chai seeds, pumpkin seeds and flaxseeds has been no problem. These can be added to any of your foods for that extra boost. Make sure you soak your chai seeds first to release the goodness.
If you did want to have berries as they are extremely high in antioxidants then you could buy the frozen sealed bags. Just make sure you boil them for 1 minute before you eat them. In certain western countries you will not have to worry about these issues. However, in the less developed countries it is better to err on the cautious side. You can also pick up some ginger and lemon and make your own tea which is an awesome way to start the day.
Yes, you could travel on a vegan diet easily, just grab some Oreos and chips every day and you are good to go. The important thing to remember is to put your health first. Make sure you are getting a well-balanced diet while travelling especially if like me to intend to do this long-term.
Stay healthy, stay vegan and have amazing travels.
If you have any further tips please comment below, I would love to hear them.