Don't be worried about trying to be vegan when you are out of country. Get out of your comfort zone and explore the world of food!
There are a lot of setbacks keeping vegans from seeing the world, especially when it comes to visiting countries that are so different from your own. Sometimes it’s really difficult to picture yourself travelling and thriving while sticking to such a unique diet and lifestyle. My best advice is don’t let anything hold you back! Get rid of that stigma around the idea that living a healthy vegan lifestyle is restrictive.
In fact, finding perfectly delicious vegan food around the globe is much easier than you may think. Most countries in Asia, South America and Africa have many dishes that are made up of beans, grains or starches. Although these meals may be considered ‘poor man’s food’ they are still incredibly delicious and very much widespread. Fresh produce, dried grains and spices can be found anywhere you plan on travelling, so as long as you have a good understanding about how to cook and prepare vegan meals, you should have no issues getting by.
Over the years, we have picked up some tips and tricks that enable us to thrive in any country on a plant-based diet. We’ve compiled quite a few of these below. Spread the word to any vegans that you know!
1. Let your airline know of your dietary restrictions. This is easily done while booking the flight, and before you even leave your hometown. Most airlines will offer multiple speciality meals, all you have to do is ask. We’ve had a ton of delicious meals while in the air. Anything from tofu scramble, waffles, Indian style curries and pasta dishes, you can have it all! Plus, they generally serve the speciality meals before they serve other meals, so you will get to feel special even if you are travelling economy class!
You can read more about ordering a speciality meal on Air Canada flights here! Make sure that you choose the "Vegetarian Vegan Meal".We have taken multiple flights with Air Canada and I must say that their vegan food is quite fantastic. It makes flying a lot more comfortable for us because we know that we will be well fed.
2. Pack a collapsible reusable container. Try this one made of silicone. Having a reusable container is beneficial because it allows you to and transport food around with you. This comes in handy on long bus or train rides, hikes and even day tours that you might partake in. You can use this for sandwiches, salads, power bowls and even left overs. Just make sure you bring cutlery!
3. Learn keywords and phrases. Get familiar with the names of common foods that you avoid such as meat, dairy, and eggs, in the language spoken at your destination. This will make ordering food a breeze. Knowing key phrases such as “I don’t eat eggs, dairy or meat” are simple to remember and will save you the trouble of navigating through a language barrier. When ordering food at restaurants it can be a lot easier to explain to the server that you have an allergy to meat, dairy, eggs, rather than explaining to them that you have dietary restrictions. A lot of places won’t understand these choices.
Don’t just stop at learning how to pronounce these words, get familiar with what they look like in writing. This will make it much easier to read through ingredient lists on packaged food items in the grocery store, and on the menu as well.
If you are going somewhere with a completely different alphabet (China, Japan, even Russia) copy some phrases to a document and print it off. This way you can just point to the phrase and whoever is reading it will be able to understand you much better.
Check out this example we added to our How to be Vegan in China post!
4. Bring some backup. Always make sure that you pack plenty of snacks in your luggage before you head out. Grab your favourite granola bars, and crackers. Whenever possible, pick up some trail mix, or dried fruits and nuts and keep a little stockpile with you at all times. These are those little staple items that will get you through the day.
We have spent countless hungry hours waiting for delayed flights, or walking around an unknown city in search of some food. If you have some hardy snacks on hand you never have to worry about going hungry.
5. Research. Read about traditional dishes, popular vegan grocery store finds, and anything else related to diet. There is a lot of information out there that might be valuable to you, you just have to find it. With a quick Google search you should be able to find at least a few vegan restaurants in the city you are travelling to, so make sure that you write them down!
6. Practice your cooking skills. If you don’t already know how to make yourself some prime vegan meals, then start practicing! The better you are at cooking and substituting ingredients, the better you will be on a trip across seas.
Try to make food items that don’t need to be cooked, and that don’t have a huge list of ingredients. Stick to the basics while travelling, pasta, stir-fry’s and sandwiches are some of our go-to meals. Check out some of the easy to make meals on our website such as these protein balls, and this tofu scramble.
7. Stay at places with kitchens. This one is important. Hostels and AirBnb’s are great places to stay if you want to save some money and have the ability to cook some meals for yourself. Grocery stores and markets all over the world will have plenty of fresh produce which will enable you to throw something together really quickly.
Yea sure, no one really wants to spend time cooking while they are on vacation – I get it – but as I stated above, just stick to the basics. You don’t have to make lasagna for dinner, you just need to toss together a quick pasta.
8. Stay tuned for our e-book! Yes that’s right, we have an e-book in the making right now. This will be packed full of more tips and the absolute best recipes to make while on the go! You can bring this recipe book along with you when you travel and you will never go hungry again!
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