With the holidays approaching, many of us are planning trips to return to our hometown or to take a well-deserved break in a foreign country. When it comes to food, veg*an traveling can be a little tricky depending on your destination.
There are several ways to prepare for your adventure in order to avoid the regret you may feel if you were to cheat for the sake of convenience. Here are five tips to help you stay true to your beliefs and enjoy your vacation.
1. Do some research
It’s been repeated several times over by vegan athletes and authors who are regular travellers: take the time to research your destinations and take note of vegan-friendly restaurants as well as the location of health food stores or farmer’s markets. Luckily, there are great apps and websites that facilitate this process like HappyCow or VegGuide. Social media can also prove to be a valuable resource for this information by searching the #vegantravel hashtag.
Knowing the culture’s take on food can be a good indication of how flexible and easy it will be to find veg*an dishes. Pay attention to recipes of classic dishes to recognize whether seemingly plant-based dishes contain a “hidden” non-vegan ingredient (animal-based broths in soups, for example).
2. Connect with local vegans
Social media is a wonderful platform to bring like-minded people together. As the veg*an movement is growing, you should be able to find local vegans through Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram. Take the time to connect with these people and ask them for advice. If you’re not a fan of meeting strangers, ask around for friends of friends and distant relatives.
Couchsurfing or renting a vegan-friendly AirBnB, like VegVisits combines accommodations with meeting local vegans on one platform. Spending a few days with your veg*an host will allow you to be immersed into the new culture much faster, and gain some valuable insight to staying true to your veg*an values in their city.
3. Take charge of your own food
While you’re looking for accommodations, opt for hotel rooms or suites that include a kitchenette or mini-fridge. You can eliminate all doubts and questioning by preparing your own food.
If this isn’t the kind of vacation you’re looking for, you can still pack some emergency snacks ahead of time, in case you can’t readily find veg*an food options. Dried fruits and nuts keep well and are very nutritious when on the go. You could also pack some superfoods to supplement your meals. Chia seeds and hemp seeds can be sprinkled onto almost anything, while dried greens powder can be added to water or juice for a convenient boost of nutrients.
If you’re going to a city where you don’t know the language, make sure to learn a few basics before you leave. Don’t forget, the meaning of “vegetarian” or “vegan” isn’t necessarily understood the same way across cultures. Learn how to describe it in the local language, but be prepared to list out individual ingredients as well. You may find that identifying veg*an dishes can be a challenge for others who are not used to the concept, so be specific and explicitly ask for the presence of ingredients like butter, chicken, fish, and others.
5. Stay true to yourself
Travelling allows us to experience new sights, new views and new tastes. When you research the city or country you’ll be visiting, consider their culture’s values, too. While animals and animal products are used all over the world, some areas or cultural experiences could use or exploit animals in a way that clashes with your overall belief system. If it makes you uncomfortable, there’s no reason to put yourself in such a challenging position during your trip. It can be tempting to immerse ourselves into a foreign culture to absorb the new sights and sounds, but doing so shouldn’t mean putting aside our own values and beliefs.