Before I set out to travel the world a few years ago I wondered what challenges my mostly vegan diet would create along the way.
Would I have to resort to surviving on bread and crackers fifty percent of the time? Would I waste away while living off of stale toast and water? Would I EVER EAT AGAIN?!
Yes I was a little stressed out about it. Unsure of just how vegan friendly many countries around the world were, I mentally prepared for hardship.
Well, I’m happy to report that I’m still here, robust, on the road, and have even converted to a fully vegan diet along the way. Far from starving. I’ve been traveling as a vegan for over two years now, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised at just how easy it has been to keep to my animal friendly diet intact. Yes, a large majority of the human population doesn’t seem to understand the concepts of veganism fully. But there are enough of us out there to make a difference, and to make vegan travel a reality.
I have learned much along the way, and have found that I can survive, and thrive as a vegan in every place I have visited. Some places are easier than others, of course, but being a vegan has rarely impacted my travel in a negative way. In fact, it has enriched my experience, and it has the benefit of allowing me to expose others to the ideals behind my vegan lifestyle.
So fellow vegans, do not fear leaving the safe confines of your borders and boundaries to explore the great wide world. For it is vast, green, and becoming slightly more animal friendly all the time. Go out and explore, and introduce others to the wonders of an animal friendly lifestyle!
Top Ten Travel Tips for Vegans
Find Hostels with Kitchens
Having a kitchen to cook in on the road is probably the best way to ensure that you are not only able to stick to your vegan diet but that you can also cook your favorite recipes while traveling. Finding a kitchen to cook in might be easier than you think too.
Just look for hostels that have a communal kitchen, try Couchsurfing, or consider renting a room or apartment on Airbnb.
Health food stores can be few and far between in some countries. It’s a good idea to bring things like B12, coconut oil, macha, spirulina, or probiotics from home or stock up on them when you find a good store with vegan goodies on the road.
You can also check out Happy Cow (see below) to see if there are any vegan friendly health food stores in the location you are traveling to.
Travel Tips for Vegans – Carry Some Items
Be sure to save a little space in your backpack for items you pick up along the way that will come in handy throughout your travels. There is no need to leave behind items you buy like curry powder, salt, olive oil, and brown rice just because you’re moving on to a new location.
Look for Local Farmers Markets
Local grocery stores around the world often don’t offer the best selection of produce. Farmers markets are great places to get the freshest and most diverse local ingredients for vegan meals at the best prices.
In addition to produce, you can usually find deliciously prepared items at farmers markets that are both local and vegan friendly. I once bought a bean tamale in Mexico from a local woman at a market for pennies. It was both vegan and delicious. Also, don’t forget that the money you spend at farmers markets goes directly to supporting the local community.
Ask for Changes
As vegans we are all too familiar with having to ask for changes to a menu item when dining out. Substitute bacon for veggies, hold the cheese, use olive oil instead of butter. It’s pretty standard so there is no reason to get shy when traveling. Feel free to ask for changes when visiting restaurants while traveling but make sure you are clear about your dietary restrictions. Many people throughout the world don’t understand what it means to be vegetarian, let along vegan.
Travel Tips for Vegans – Discover Happy Cow
The Happy Cow website is a great resource for traveling vegetarians and vegans. It’s a location based directory of vegan, vegetarian, and vegan/vegetarian-friendly restaurants and shops around the world. If you’re visiting a new country or town, check out their website to see what’s available. There are even reviews from other travelers and locals for each establishment.
Talk to Other Travelers
I’ve met a lot of backpacking vegetarians and vegans on the road and they’ve clued me into what turned out to be my favorite dining experiences in the last few years.
One of the most memorable meals I had came from a little restaurant in Bocas del Toro, Panama called Leaf Eaters. I would have never found it if a fellow traveler hadn’t recommended it. So speak up, say hi and make friends. You never know what other vegans and vegetarians you might meet along the way.
Yoga Hostels and studios are wonderful places to meet other vegans and vegetarians. So between sessions strike up a conversation with your classmates. Hopefully you can get a few tips on all the best veggie spots in town and maybe make friends while you’re at it.
Before embarking on your journey, it is a good idea to learn some basics phrases in the local language related to being vegan. That way 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 that will do all the work for you. It displays a description of veganism in over 70 languages on your phone’s screen so you can show it to waitstaff. It’s been a real lifesaver in my travels.
Travel Tips for Vegans – Learn About Local Food
Another thing to research before you hit the road is local vegan fare for the country you are planning to visit. There have been a few times I’ve learned about a local dish that happens to be vegan after I’ve left a location. Yes, it’s a good reason to return but it’s never fun to know that you could have been feasting on Cambodian desserts instead of going sugar free in Siem Reap simply because you didn’t know they happen to be vegan.
For more vegan travel tips, check out our vegan travel site Veggie Visa!
Disclaimer – We have included a few handy little affiliate links in case any of our readers want to book accommodations or purchase the products we mentioned. We receive a small commission for any sales made, without any additional cost to you, our dear reader.