10 Tips For Travelling As a Vegan
Worried about eating vegan when you travel? It's easier than you might think, and as veganism grows, it's becoming more accessible to enjoy vegan food while you are away. Food is a huge part of travelling and once you become vegan it's an even more exciting experience to discover new and exciting vegan food around the world. Follow these tips to help you be prepared and make the most of eating vegan on holiday.
Pre-order your plane meal Let's start your trip right by having a vegan meal on the plane. I don't think any vegan traveller has not had an issue with plane food. But this is how you ensure you get the correct food. Once you book your flights, book your seats and your meal. You may have to pay for your seats but if you wait until they are allocated by the airline they will keep changing the seating plan right up until the last minute, meaning your vegan meal is likely to get lost along the way. So book your seats and meal straight away, the vegan code for most airlines is VGML. If you book with a tour operator they will be able to add a remark in your booking so make sure your agent is aware of any dietary requirements. When you arrive at the airport ask at the check in desk to make sure you have a vegan meal allocated to your name and seat.
Since becoming vegan food has become even more exciting while travelling. There is something about finding a small vegan restaurant and trying food with local spices and produce.
Before you go research vegan restaurants in the area you are staying. With the help off blogs and apps like Trip Advisor you can easily search for vegan eateries by location.
Don't use the word vegan Yep that's right, there is not a direct translation in all languages for the word 'vegan'. For example in Japan you will be better off explaining what you don't eat.... meat, fish, dairy, eggs etc rather than just saying 'I am vegan'. By breaking it down you are less likely to come across any issues.
Book touring in advance
If you are looking to book any kind of touring, you are better off doing this in advance rather than turning up on the day and expecting there to be vegan options. Unfortunately vegan food is not yet the default option in most places. By booking ahead you can confirm exactly what you require and that way the touring company will be prepared for you.
Book accommodation with a kitchen
I love to eat out when I am away, but it's nice to have the option to cook for yourself now and again. Having a kitchen is also useful to make packed lunches. This is a good idea if you are going out for the whole day and are unsure if you will come across anywhere you will be able to eat. It's also useful to take prepared food if you are planning on going on a long trek etc...
Vegan apps have come a long way and we are so lucky to have the likes of Happy Cow and Trip Advisor. Happy Cow allows other vegans that have travelled to upload vegan or vegan friendly restaurants and leave reviews to help you pick the best places to eat. V Cards is another very useful app to help with language barriers, it helps you inform restaurant staff you are vegan and what you can and can't eat in over 100 languages.
Use a vegan friendly travel agent
A vegan friendly agent (such as myself) will use first hand experience to to advise you and help you plan your trip plus advise you on which hotels are ethical and vegan friendly. Not just talking about food it's about cruelty free cleaning products and toiletries too. I have a long list of vegan friendly resorts all around the world that have already been tried, tested and verified.
Speak to local people
The receptionist of your hotel may be vegan or at least know someone who is.
Speak to other other travellers. I've been to some amazing vegan friendly restaurants I would never have found without the suggestions from other travellers. The tiny local restaurants/street vendors might not be on the internet, it's always worth asking.
Take some essentials
Depending on where you are travelling and what you are doing you might not have access to shops. For example if you are going on a walking adventure in Nepal you might be eating home cooked meals every night. Most places have the basics of rice and some kind of vegetables, but it will be worth taking some protein bars, nuts, dried fruit etc to make sure you are getting enough calories. Always do your best to politely reject and explain why you don't want to eat the meal as presented if it contains meat, again the V Cards app will help you with with this. Worse case scenario if you don't want to offend them, wrap the food in a tissue/container and find a local dog or cat to give it to!
Don't be so hard on yourself
My number one tip would be to not be so hard on yourself. You won't be able to read all labels or explain to everyone that you can't have milk, you can try your best but occasionally it can go wrong. For example while travelling in China I ordered a noodle soup, after explaining I don't eat meat, fish etc, I took a sip of the soup only to find meatballs in the bottom of the bowl. Of course I didn't eat them but I tried my best to communicate and that time it just didn't work. We can only try our best and laugh these mistakes off, don't let it ruin your day, the most important thing is to enjoy yourself and go with the flow it's all part of the experience.