How to Stay Vegan While Travelling the World
T he thought of travelling as a vegan can be worrying and it is completely understandable I mean where on earth in China are you going to find a green smoothie? Or your favourite faux meat sandwich? The answer is that they often don’t exist where you are and even if you do manage to find them be prepared to spend big bucks for these rare treats overseas. Though it might initially seem like a massive task to plan travel as a vegan (depending on the country) I’m hoping that my tips and tricks guide can help your travels not only manageable but enjoyable!
But Where to Go?
This post will skip over the where to go as I’ll assume you’ve already picked a place. There are tons of guides and articles online detailing the most ‘vegan friendly’ places in the world so start there if you have no destination in mind. For many others you’ll have your place picked and although food is a big part of why we all travel (don’t lie to yourself, it is) we don’t only visit a place for food. You may be travelling in order to step out of your comfort zone, or to visit amazing sites, hike, etc, whatever the reason you can find vegan options everywhere all over the world and it’s not as difficult as you’d think. I’ll share with you my top 5 tips and tricks that make travelling vegan and staying vegan while travelling a breeze!
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Without further ado, here are some of my tips and tricks for travelling as a vegan!
Tip 1: Get a Free Meal vs Packing Food for Flights
Depending on which airline you travel with as well as the distance you travel, you may or may not be able to request a vegan option for a meal. I’ve been on and off random airlines that I didn’t even know existed before booking and it certainly pays to look into whether you can receive a vegan meal onboard as many do offer this option.
If you are travelling with a low-cost carrier (Jetstar – Aus, RyanAir – UK, JetBlue – USA) it is likely that your meal is not included and may cost upwards of $10AUD per meal (in many cases MUCH more), in this case I highly recommend packing some snacks or a light meal to bring with you onboard.
Note: Some airlines are not thrilled by you eating your own food onboard however to get around this you only need to state you have unique dietary requirements that are not able to be catered to by the airline. They may question you however it’s not a big deal, you can sneakily eat it if they are adamant about you putting it away – what are they going to do, kick you off? Also I’ve never run into this issue and it seems that airlines are now more lenient regarding this, so I wouldn’t worry at all.
If your airline is a full service carrier and you didn’t book direct through their site that is no problem, you can generally grab your airline reference number plus last name and go to the airlines website ‘My Booking/Account’ section and enter the info. You can then generally choose your seat, make other flight amendments and make meal requests online. If you cannot make the request online you can call or email to make a request. I did this in on my way from China to South Korea and my girlfriend and I received a nice Biriyani rice on our flight.
It can sometimes be a bit of a hassle to get through to the airline but if you are budgeting your trip it is worth it as that is a free meal and at least you won’t overeat when you arrive at your destination.
Tip 2: Google ‘Vegan’ in Maps
It may seem obvious – if you are a long time HappyCow fan it may not be that obvious – either way Google (being the worlds largest search engine) searches reviews people make for keywords making it a highly effective option when compared with HappyCow or Tripadvisor. I’ve found that a great way to quickly see what is potentially vegan around you is to go to Google Maps, ensure your location is where you want it to be, then type ‘vegan’ or ‘vegan food’ into the search bar. In places such as Japan, South Korea, Europe, Australia, US etc it is great for finding some places that either offer vegan options or are entirely vegan/vegetarian. You may also find places that are off the beaten HappyCow trail as new places start to offer vegan options and people review their vegan options on Google.
Note: There is abundant free wi-fi in many countries especially at 7Elevens and other convenience stores, however if possible a local phone sim is a great option that way you can search while out and about.
Tip 3: Use Instagram Hashtags to Find Places to Eat
Something I’ve recently been playing around with is when I’m headed to a new city I’ll search the insta tag #(cityname)vegan or #(cityname)veganfood, eg; #tokyovegan, #tokyoveganfood. This has proved to be quite useful in finding some new vegan places or places experimenting with vegan options, that are not yet listed on HappyCow or Google. It hasn’t been a foolproof method though; there have been some lacklustre experiences including waiting for 1.25 hours for our food only to be told it will take another 15 minutes to ‘make the vegan cheese’ at one place… For the most part though this is a great way to find a place to visit pretty quickly. You’ll also often get insight into what is popular by the locals which can make travelling to a quaint little vegan cafe out of the city a culture trip in and of itself.
Tip 4: Not All Soy is Made the Same
Double check your soy when you’re in an unfamiliar country, especially in Asia. Oftentimes soy is mixed with regular milk – Korea and China I’m looking at you – and lord knows why they do this but it makes a perfectly good vegan beverage a useless box of tainted sustenance. Japan fortunately (due to its obsession with soy) in many instances leaves the product untainted, though do beware of the soft serves listed as Soy, they also contain milk fat to make them more ‘creamy’ – Why Japan Why!
Tip 5: Keep Your Vitamins & Minerals Up
It is quite easy to get sick while travelling, especially if you are rushing from place to place with little rest. You can compound the lowering of your immune system by a significant factor if you are having a few drinks at night too!
While at home it is easy to get your vitamins and minerals, Spiralina, Chlorella, Hemp, Flax etc are a standard part of a well-informed vegan’s diet; knowing that to remain healthy it is prudent to supplement with natures superfoods and hit all your DV’s (daily values). On the road however it is a different ballgame.
You’ll be getting up at 4-5AM sometimes to catch a flight, travelling for 5-10hours at a time over land, sea or air; the best way to mitigate against sickness while travelling is to take some superfood supplements with you, something like Chlorella generally has a less ‘green’ flavour and so can be added to water and downed relatively easily. Regardless of whether you choose to supplement or not, while travelling you should always aim to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. It is not that hard really, most vegan places you go will offer local specialities and they are often the most nutrient rich. I love burgers but when in Japan I’m trying to eat AS MUCH vegan Japanese food as I can! Burgers are everywhere and Japanese food has so many nutrients, live like a local and get as much as you can out of the local food.
Note: Though I’ve seen supplements available in most of Asia and no doubt they are available around the world in many places, the only concern is that you cannot be sure of the source of the products unless you can read or speak the language and you’ll need to confirm the ingredients. It is best to bring some with you and then top up if required depending on your trip length when you finish it.
There you go, some hopefully helpful tips and tricks for new and old vegan travellers around the world!
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