Ah! The joys of traveling to a brand new place far away from home, discovering new sights, people, cultures, and foods! As a vegan who has traveled to many different countries around the globe, I can safely say that finding "vegan-friendly" eateries or even vegan grocery staples has been quite the challenge, especially when traveling to remote beaches, islands, and off-the-beaten path mountain or desert destinations. However, no matter how scant the options, I've been able to survive nearly 20 years of traveling as a vegan, and still have not starved to death! Here's how I did it:
#1 - Always Carry Snacks:
One of the key survival strategies for any vegan traveler is to always have a stash of snacks on hand. Pack some vegan protein bars, nuts, dried fruits, and other portable ready-to-eat foods that can sustain you between meals or serve as emergency sustenance in case you can't find suitable vegan options. This simple practice has saved me from hunger pangs on numerous occasions.
#2 - Learn Basic Local Phrases:
While language barriers can make it challenging to communicate your dietary needs, learning a few basic phrases in the local language can be incredibly helpful. Mastering phrases like "I am vegan," "no meat, fish, eggs or dairy," and "Is there a vegan option?" can assist you in expressing your dietary requirements to locals, servers, or chefs. It shows your effort and willingness to adapt, and you may be surprised at how accommodating people can be when they understand your needs.
#3- Get Creative with Side Dishes:
Even if a restaurant doesn't have a vegan main course on the menu, you can often find vegan side dishes that, when combined, can make a satisfying meal. Look for vegetable-based sides, salads, soups, or grains that can be ordered together to create a wholesome and filling plate. Don't hesitate to ask for modifications or substitutions to suit your dietary needs.
#4 - Seek Local Markets and Supermarkets:
When all else fails, explore local markets and supermarkets. These are often treasure troves for vegans, as they offer a wide variety of fresh produce, grains, legumes, and other plant-based staples. Stock up on fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and non-perishable items that can be used to prepare simple meals in your accommodation. You may also find plant-based snacks or vegan-friendly products that are unique to the region.
#5 - Stay at Accommodations with Kitchen Facilities:
Booking accommodations with kitchen facilities, such as Airbnb rentals or hotels with in-room kitchens, can be a game-changer for vegans on the road. Having access to a kitchen allows you to prepare your own meals using locally sourced ingredients, ensuring that your dietary needs are met. This option not only offers greater flexibility but can also save you tons of money while allowing you to explore local markets and create unique vegan dishes.
#6 - Be Open, Stay Positive, and Flexible, it's Part of The Adventure!
Traveling as a vegan in places with limited options requires a positive mindset and flexibility. Accept that you may not find a perfect vegan meal at every destination, but instead focus on the adventure and cultural experiences. Embrace the challenge as an opportunity to discover new flavors, adapt to local cuisine, and appreciate the unique aspects of each destination. Remember, traveling is about exploring and learning, and sometimes that includes exploring your own resourcefulness.
So, with these tips in mind, go out there and enjoy your next adventure to that exotic destination. The wonder and excitement of the new vegan foods that you will find await!