Tips for Vegan Travellers

On my most recent trip I ended up in the Grand Canyon, which actually has it’s own town, but is pretty scarce on vegan options. Luckily I had a cooler full of great vegan grub (veggie burgers that are great cold, hummus, guacamole and pre-made quinoa I got the day before at a Whole Foods when I stocked up in their deli). So my wife, our friend Richard and I hiked to a remote part of the rim and enjoyed a great lunch with our feet dangling thousands of feet from the bottom of the canyon.

Here is a list of things I’ve learned about the best, easiest, and most filling way to travel if you’re vegan.

PLAN AHEAD

This is the most important thing to do since not all restaurants or even small grocery stores have vegan options. Use the following tips before you leave your house. The more you plan, the easier it will be to eat when you’re hungry and away from your home.

HAVE A STASH

Keep food on your person or in your vehicle at all times, so if you can’t find anything vegan or know there’s nothing vegan where you are, you’re still covered. Things like not-delicate fruit and veggies, pre-made (at home) snacks or portable meals (my quinoa salad is a great go-to travel meal), energy bars, nuts and seeds — things that store easy and are hardy enough to last days or weeks make the best stash.

THE INTERNET IS YOUR FRIEND

Google where to find vegan grub in the places you’re going, find vegan bloggers who live there and pick their brains, use location-based mobile apps (like VegOut on the iPhone), or send out a tweet tagged with the city (and it’s airport code) asking for vegan suggestions. There are also lots of vegan groups online that are location/city specific that post information publicly. If you’re traveling in a different country with crazy data-roaming rates, do this before you leave home or at a hotel or café with wi-fi.

DON’T EXPECT TO BE CATERED TO

Although it’d be great if every restaurant had vegan options, some don’t even know exactly what “vegan” means (bonus: share my article with them in a friendly manner!). So don’t expect anything, but be vocal about how grateful you are if they can accommodate. It’s also helpful to ask the host/hostess before being seated if you can see a menu, or better yet, call ahead if you can. If they have something vegan, awesome! If not, ask if something vegan can be made. That way you aren’t wasting your time or theirs.

GET LEARNED ON UNINTENTIONAL VEGAN FOOD

As a last resort, there are a lot of conventional food that’s vegan by accident. It might not be the healthiest, but if you’re starving, it can be your only option. Things like Oreos, some chips (although make sure they don’t have milk!), Swedish fish, skittles, some dark chocolates, some breads (read ingredient list for eggs/milk/whey), most humus, probably all salsa, corn chips, etc are vegan. I’ve eaten a lot of tortilla chips with salsa/humus, and it might not be exciting, but it if you eat enough of it, you’ll at least be full enough to get to a better vegan option later.

Nowadays there are great vegan options in unlikely places. I’ve had some of my favorite and most satisfying meals in the middle of no where or in places I thought were totally carnivore-centric. So hold back judgement on towns or restaurants until you’ve actually checked if they can accommodate you. You might be surprised how deliciously they can fix you up something that’s not on their menu. And finally, if you find a spot with killer vegan grub, get a dish to go, so you have a second meal later on or the next day!

 

Written by Paul Jarvis

Paul Jarvis is the author of Eat Awesome. He’s a web designer, author and gentleman of adventure. His latest book is Everything I Know.


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  • Brad Silk

    Thank You! Vegan travel is tough on a budget, a lot of friends on tour use to survive on one meal and a lot of those ‘accidentally vegan’ crappy snacks at gas stations. All people, especially those with restricted diets, should plan ahead to stay healthy.

  • http://bikesandthecity.com/ meligrosa

    this is great, being a vegetarian for over a decade most of these tips apply even when visiting families or friends in different towns. the most interesting is traveling and preparing for the ‘oh, but why – not even chicken?!) I get asked mostly when travelling in mexico, as being vegetarian is often looked as a privilege. Once I do some quick statements, they typically are into it and most of the time – if not at all times (I’m fluent in Spanish), they are super stoked to whip up some veggie-friendly dish. I must add coastal towns do have a very light diet, and many of the dishes are often vegetarian. Just I have learned throughout time, a simple description such as ‘quesadilla’ on the menu, may mean by their traditions to each area, that it comes with meat by default – so just I have made it a habit to always ask.

    great blog, love all the posts
    from SF, xxom

  • Peter

    Just an FYI: Romania is a fantastic spot for vegans to dine! Orthodox Christianity is the predominant religion in the country, and the many holy days means a lot of the country fasts, allowing vegans a great meal, almost anywhere you go! If you aren’t fluent in Romanian, or with someone who is, look up some phrases. I believe the term is ‘de post’, which implies a fasting meal/vegan. I ate some of the most delicious (and relatively inexpensive) meals of my life while visiting Focšani, Iašii and Bucharest!

  • James

    Also – there is almost always a Subway sandwich shop in every town. This was our safety on a few cross-country road trips. Some even have avocados.