by Bridget Sandorford,
When you’re at home, you can control everything that you eat by making sure that you get only quality ingredients. But when you travel, you give up a bit of that control. You may not know the source of all the ingredients – are they local? are they organic? – and if you’re in a foreign country, you may not even be able to read the menu to know exactly what it is that you’re ordering.
If you are a vegan, traveling can be even more difficult. You may not be able to understand the menu to know which dishes contain meat or dairy products, and there may not be vegan-friendly options on the menu. However, with a little planning and the right strategy, you can stick to a vegan diet while traveling just about anywhere in the world. Here are a few tips:
Research Vegan Friendly Restaurants
You plan your itinerary before you go, so why not plan your meals, as well? Do a little research and find out what restaurants are in the area that serve vegan meals. Happy Cow (http://www.happycow.net/) lets you search for vegetarian and vegan restaurants in any area. If there are no vegetarian or vegan restaurants at your destination, get a good restaurant guide or a travel guide for your area, and start researching individual restaurants. Look up menus online where possible and find places that offer the greatest number of options for you to put together a good meal.
Learn Key Phrases
When you are in a foreign country, you may not always find a restaurant where the menu is in English or your server can speak English. Prepare yourself by learning a few key phrases in the local language. You don’t have to understand how to order everything on the menu, but you should be able to say things like “meat,” “eggs,” and “milk.”
Learning the word for “vegetarian” or “vegan” may not always be helpful as cultural differences may lead to a misunderstanding of these terms (or no understanding at all). Learn how to ask for “no ___,” such as beef, chicken, pork, and so on. Even just knowing these simple phrases may be able to help you get a healthy vegan meal.
Ask for Modifications
If there are no meals on the menu that are vegan, ask to have one made. You can either ask to have some items left out of a meal – such as a sandwich without the cheese or the pasta without the chicken – or you can ask to have a meal made especially for you. Most restaurants will be happy to accommodate these requests and will not charge you extra to do so.
Shop at Local Stores and Markets
You don’t have to eat your meals at restaurants. You can shop at local stores and markets to get the ingredients to make your own meals. If you aren’t staying in a hostel or a hotel with a kitchen, you can still buy ingredients for simple snacks and meals, such as sandwiches, salads, and trail mixes. If you don’t have a kitchen, you’ll just have to shop for ingredients for each meal or stick to items that don’t need refrigeration.
Pack Plenty of Snacks
The easiest way to make sure that you have something healthy to eat is to bring it with you. There may not be enough room in your suitcase for all your meals for your whole trip, but you surely have enough space for some healthy snacks. Bring along things like dried fruit, energy bars, trail mix, whole grain crackers, kale chips and anything else that’s vegan, healthy, and non-perishable. Whenever you can’t find a good, vegan meal, you can just grab from your bag of snacks to tide you over until you can.
Traveling may make it difficult to stick to a vegan diet because of the uncertainty in restaurant selections, but with a little research and a little planning, you can maintain your healthy choices no matter where you go. How were you able to maintain your vegan diet on your travels? Share your ideas in the comments!