Traveling as a vegan may require a little work, but with the right planning, you’ll reap great rewards. With so many vegan and vegetarian communities and cuisines to tap into around the world, vegans are well-positioned to enjoy a unique travel experience anywhere they go.
These vegan travel tips will ensure you not only stay satisfied but have a truly mouth-watering adventure.
Download Happy Cow and Vanilla Bean
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Happy Cow and Vanilla Bean are kind of like Yelp for travelers who avoid meat. Both apps feature reviews of nothing but vegan, vegetarian and vegetarian-friendly restaurants, complete with plenty of crowdsourced ratings. You can bookmark options ahead of time or open the app when you reach your destination, almost anywhere in the world. I’ve used Happy Cow in rural and urban parts of Italy, Japan, and Jamaica – it never fails!
Reach out to local vegans on social media
Traveling as a vegan gives me an advantage, because wherever I go, I have a built-in community. Search for local vegan or vegetarian groups on Meetup or Facebook, and ask members for suggestions on where to eat and whether anyone would like to meet for dinner. (You can also use Instagram hashtags to find local vegans). Not only are you likely to get great recommendations; you’ll probably make some cool friends as well. You have a natural opener for connecting with like-minded locals – use it!
Stay somewhere with a kitchen
While eating out is a must, having a space to cook – available at most Airbnb rentals and many hostels – will help you save money and allow you to take advantage of local farmers markets and grocery stores. Markets are always an adventure – try things you’d never find at home, like produce that doesn’t grow stateside.
Use Google Translate
If you have internet access, you can use Google Translate to communicate in any language in real time. Simply record your sentence and set the language, and Google will dictate a translation. The app also has a real-time photo translator that’s especially useful for vegans. Not sure what’s in a particular dish or can’t read the menu? Simply hover the camera over the text and watch a translation appear.
Know the local lingo
Look up key vegan phrases in advance. Not every language has a word for vegan, so be sure to find the most appropriate way to express your dietary preferences. Another great resource is The Vegan Passport, a multilingual phrasebook and guide to eating vegan anywhere in the world, available in book or app form.
Pack some snacks
While you’re likely to find many more vegan options than you’d expect, it’s a good idea to pack a few snacks. I like to take my own coffee creamer, since dairy-free milk is not always available. You can also pack peanut butter, power bars, trail mix, or other portable nutrient-rich snacks to ensure you won’t go hungry.
Request a vegan meal for the plane
@japanairlines_jal vegan options were actually pretty solid! A veggie curry, some mystery veggie dumpling dish, tasty mushrooms, fermented soybeans, and plenty fresh fruit, rice, and veggies. Between that and working on my book, 12 hours went by eerily fast — in business class anyway, thanks to this pinching-myself-already-press trip by @moxyhotels #atthemoxy #airlinefood #airtravel #luxurytravel #businessclass #vegan #veganoptions #veganfood #food #airplane #airplanefood #japan #japanairlines #airlines #blessed #travel #remotelife #livingthelife #writing #icouldgetusedtothis
Most airlines offer vegan meals, and you might be surprised how good they are. Request a vegan meal ahead of time, but bring snacks and coffee creamer in case the airline makes a mistake.
Shift your perspective – act like a food writer
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Reach out to locals, do your research, and consider structuring your days around where you want to eat. If you have a couple of places you’d like to try each day, eating vegan is not a limitation, but a fascinating way to organize your journey. You can wander between meals to work up an appetite and view the local vegan options as something to document and explore. Vegan travel blogs will have great suggestions, but I’d advise remaining open and flexible no matter where you go. Remember: Traveling as a vegan is an opportunity for a unique adventure – make the most of it!
Do your research on everything from table manners to the state of animal rights in the region, and act accordingly. You don’t have to respect animal abuse, but remember that animal rights is a very new movement in many parts of the world, so be patient and understanding if your restaurant server doesn’t understand veganism off the bat.