I am a Vegan. And so are you if you are reading this. Or you’re a vegetarian trying to take a step further. And you love travelling, so it’s only normal to ask yourself the question “How to eat vegan while travelling?”
Ordering vegan at a normal restaurant
Well, I’m not a big fan of restaurants (no, I’m kidding, it’s just too expensive), but sometimes I go with fellow travel friends out to have lunch or dinner. And I cannot ask them to pick a certain restaurant because I don’t eat this or that. So I got really used to this situation.
Take a look at the menu. Most menus have a page of side dishes, which are vegan by accident: potatoes, veggies or rice. Also, take a look at the salads page. They may have a vegan salad by accident, or at least a vegetarian option. Ask the waiter if the cook can remove the certain ingredients from that.
My favourite restaurants are Turkish and Lebanese. They have many traditional dishes which just happens to be vegan. Like the famous Falafel. Maybe it’s not written anywhere it’s vegan food, but it mostly is. Just for your peace of mind, ask about the sauces. Those might be made with yoghurt.
Italian restaurants can be another option. There Italian restaurant all over, no matter where you are. It’s all about pizza and pasta. They should have vegetarian pizza in the menu, or maybe even vegan pizza.
If there is no vegan pizza, I ask for the vegetarian pizza without the mozzarella. Also, check the pasta list. They should have the basic Penne all’Arrabbiata (garlic, tomatoes, and red chilli peppers cooked in olive oil), which I love.
Finding vegan places
More and more people start to understand the importance of their diet for their life, environment and the planet. Therefore the number of vegan restaurants are continually increasing. Vegan gourmet restaurants, vegan fast foods, vegan bakeries, vegan burgers and probably everything you can imagine.
If it’s a bigger city and there are many tourists, probably there are vegan places where you can eat. Most of them are small, cosy and probably hidden, so I google them or use HappyCow app or website to see which are my options nearby. There are reviews, photos and price range listed. I found some really amazing places using this app.
They also list restaurants which are not completely vegetarians or vegan but do have options for that. So you can take your friends.
The prices are normal, maybe even less than expected. Yay!
Check out the grocery stores
For budget travellers, this will be the cheapest meal you can buy. If you are a vegan, I assume you know which things are vegan in a supermarket.
Some countries have supermarkets which label products as vegan or vegetarian. UAusually they group those in one place. But it can be more expensive just because it says “vegan” on it. And it does not mean that you cannot find other vegan stuff, just because there is not the vegan label on it.
Use common sense. And eat some fruits. The best gift of nature.
Stay somewhere with a kitchen
Many hotels or hostels have kitchens which the tourists can use. Or if you are staying with Airbnb or a friend, that’s even better. You can use that kitchen to cook whatever you what. You won’t even feel deprived you’re not eating out because you can have when you want and it will be cheaper.
I believe the best way to know control your diet is when you are cooking for yourself. Only then you can be sure of what is in your food.
Pack your own meals
If you are lucky enough to have a kitchen which you can use, then you can make anything. But even if you don’t have a place to cook, there are so many things to buy from the supermarket which can be packed for later.
There are vegan spreads, bread or take away stuff. Fruits are the perfect snacks. You just need to plan a little ahead.
Every country has a national vegetarian/vegan dish
I’ve noticed that there is a veggie dish in every country with a solid cuisine. Most southeastern European cuisine, Turkish and middle east cuisine have a lot of them because they needed to invent different dishes to feed their families with the available foods in those lands.
Southeastern countries are orthodox Christians, and they have vegan diet incorporated in the religion. Fasting it’s really common before Christmas And Easter, and there are a lot of food options for the people who do it. It’s basically the same thing, no animal products allowed. This is how I realised that the vegan diet is not a new idea.
The most issues I had was in the West Europe, and I feel they don’t really have a great cuisine or if they do, it’s all about meat and cheese and sandwiches.
Don’t beat yourself up
Being in a foreign country, where you don’t understand the language may lead to confusing situations. I once ordered a liquor instead of wine.
It may happen the people serving you food don’t understand what your diet is about and suggest you some fish. Yes, some cultures believe fish is not meat. Vegetarians are to blame for that.
They might suggest a certain dish and forget to mention it contains milk or egg. You will probably tell the difference, but it’s not their fault, and neither is yours. You took a bite, you realised is not what it should be, you keep your calm and tell yourself it’s ok, confusions happen.
This is one risk we are always exposed at when travelling, and that’s why we love it. It makes it more challenging.
So many people have managed to eat vegan while travelling, so there is definitely a way.