Before I set out on a round the world journey in 2014, I didn’t know what the hell I was doing when it came to traveling as a vegan.
I was still in the process of transitioning, trying to eliminate eggs and a few other animal products, and wondered what challenges my dietary restrictions would create on the road. Worst case scenario, I could survive on bread and crackers, right?
Luckily I haven’t had to do that. In fact, I was able to become fully vegan during my travels, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised at just how easy it has been to keep an animal-friendly diet. Even in countries whose local populations don’t have a clear definition of what it means to be vegan.
However, there was a bit of a learning curve along the way. I’ll admit it, I made some mistakes along the way, and I want to help you with a few tips I picked up on the road.
Top Tips for Traveling as a Vegan
Find Accommodation Options With Kitchens
Having access to kitchens on the road is my top tip for traveling as a vegan. It’s the best way to ensure that you are not only able to stick to your diet, but that you can also cook your favorite recipes while traveling.
Eating out is fun, and a big treat, especially when you’re traveling. However, there is also something great about being able to cook cheap, comforting, vegan meals while you travel.
But hotels don’t have kitchens, you might think. True but there are other accommodation options. If you’re flying solo, hostels are the way to go. If you’re traveling with someone or a group, Airbnb apartments are an excellent choice. Both will give you access to a kitchen and usually be a lot cheaper than a hotel.
Save Space for Cooking Essentials
Speaking of cooking, make sure you to save a little space in your backpack for items you pick up along the way. Things like curry powder, salt, olive oil, and brown rice will come in handy throughout your travels. If you move from location to location quickly there is no need to throw out unused products when you can just bring them to your next destination.
Shop at Farmers Markets
Produce at local grocery stores in many destinations around the world can often be disappointing. Farmers markets are a great place for vegans to get the freshest and most diverse local ingredients for meals. They are usually much cheaper than a supermarket, and you’ll be supporting the local community by shopping at the. Additionally, you can often times find deliciously prepared items that are both local and vegan at farmers markets.
Use Happy Cow to Find Vegan Food
A great resource for vegetarians and vegans, Happy Cow is a website devoted to sharing delicious restaurants throughout the world with vegetarian food. If you’re visiting a new country or town, check out their website to see what is available and if you find a new restaurant with great vegan options review it or add it to the site to share with your fellow travelers.
Ask for Changes at Restaurants
Asking restaurant staff for changes is a normal part of vegan life. Substitute bacon for veggies, hold the cheese, etc.
There is no reason to stop doing this when you travel. Just make sure you clearly explain what it means to be vegan when you’re traveling. A lot of places around the world think the terms vegan and vegetarian are interchangeable, or that being vegan simply means one does not consume red meat.
Prepare for Language Barriers
Before embarking on your journey, it is a good idea to learn some basics phrases in the local language related to being vegan so you can explain your dietary restrictions to waiters, food vendors, and other locals you meet on the road.
You can also download an awesome App called V-Cards. It displays a description of veganism in over 70 languages on your phone’s screen so you can show it to waitstaff. The app has come to my rescue so many times, especially while in smaller towns or remote locations around the world.
Learn About Local Food
Another thing you may consider researching before you hit the road is local vegan fare for the countries you are planning to visit. You don’t want to miss out on delicious local treats like salata de vinete in Romania, gallo pinto in Nicaragua, bean tamales in Mexico, or arepas in Colombia.
Open Your Mouth For Something Other Than Food
I’ve met a lot of backpacking vegetarians and vegans on the road. Some of my favorite restaurants are ones that I would have never found out about without their suggestions. So, be bold and strike up a conversation with people around you. You never know who else might be a vegan or vegetarian.
If you’re on the shy side you can try sites like Couchsurfing, or Meetup to find vegans and vegetarians. If you’re single Tinder is a great tool for meeting people, and sometimes you can find vegans on there as well.
Prepare in Advance
Depending on where you are in the world, health food stores might not be readily available. The best thing to do is bring items with you from home that might not be easy to find, or stock up on them when you do find a good store along the way. Things like B12, coconut oil, macha, spirulina, and probiotics are always good to have in your suitcase.
Take Yoga Classes
Yoga Hostels or Yoga Studios are great places to meet other vegetarians and vegans, and get suggestions on good places to eat and details on local farmers markets.
Finding Cruelty Free Beauty Products
Finding cruelty free beauty, vegan products in countries you are visiting has always been a little difficult for me. Language barriers can make it a challenge to explain what exactly you are looking for. Thankfully there is a website that does all the work for you. Leaping Bunny does all the work for you. There is a section of the site that lets you search for cruelty free, vegan products in countries all around the world. It couldn’t be easier to ensure the products you buy around the world are vegan.
Like this Article? Pin It!