Oct. 19, 2011
I'm always getting questions about how I stay plant-based (vegan) on vacation or when I'm traveling.
Since I adopted a plant-based diet, I've driven across the United States twice and spent an entire month backpacking across Europe. I also travel quite frequently...
So what's my secret? patience. Not that I have a lot of that to begin with... but yes, patience is my secret.
I have yet to travel to any place in the world where I was unable to eat. Sure not every city, airport or town has a vegan restaurant with a brightly lt Las Vegas-style sign saying "Lindsay you can eat here!" but I've always been able to find food. Always. Even in Africa. (To be fair, I was in Morocco, but still. It was Africa and there was veg food aplenty!)
Here's my advice:
1. Research ahead. Not always possible, I know, but if you can, do a little Googling before you travel. That's how I found vegan gelato in Italy!
One caveat: Sometimes online paints a different picture from reality. For example, Whistler seemed like a rather un-veg-friendly town when I Googled, but it ended up being one of the most veg-friendly places I've ever visited!
2. Default to Thai and Italian. Almost every city has a Thai or Italian restaurant and you should be able to find something on the menu, or adapt a dish so it can be plant-based. Maybe you'll ask the Thai restaurant to hold the fish sauce with your vegetable dish or maybe you'll order a cheeseless pizza. You might have to get a little creative (I once asked for salsa and a plain baked potato -- not a bad combo as it turns out!) and that's where the patience comes in again.
3. Supermarkets are Plan C. Grocery stores exist most everywhere. Even if there isn;t a grocery store there should be a little store or a farmers stand that sells produce. Produce is always an option and you can usually find bread, hummus and crackers, too. Again, not glamourous but I don't go on vacation to eat. I go on vacation for the experience of that place. I eat good at home I can do without on vacation. p.s. I was shocked by the wide variety of soy based products (like soy yogurt) all over Europe.
If you're in America -- Taco Bell, while not healthy per se, is a good place for a hungry vegan belly. I usually get a sort of taco salad -- lettuce, salsa, refried beans - that sort of thing. This website can also be handy when trying to source vegan items at Fast Food restaurants (such as during long car rides!)
Of course, bringing your own food is always awesome and highly recommended when flying, though I've been surprised by the number of vegan (and healthy!) options cropping up at major U.S. airports.
I've also written about eating in airports (and traveling) before. Check out that blog post as well.