Guest article by Emily Folk
For most people, the weeks before a vacation are filled with pure excitement. If you’re a vegan planning a trip with non-vegan friends, though, that joyful anticipation might be tinged with a little bit of dread.
Staying vegan while on the road might already sound daunting to you, and doing it while traveling with people who eat animal products can be even tougher.
The good news is, it’s definitely possible to stay true to your beliefs everywhere you go AND keep the peace with your non-veg friends and family. With the following eight tips under your belt, you’ll know how to stay vegan no matter where you are — and who you’re with:
1. Plan Your Meals
As a vegan, you’re likely well aware of the fact that planning makes your life much easier. This will be especially true as you embark on your next vacation.
If you haven’t planned your trip yet, consider choosing a vegan-friendly destination that your co-travelers will enjoy, too: cities like Portland, Berlin, Taipei and Honolulu are sound choices. Of course, if you’ve already picked a place to go, you can use online resources to find vegan-friendly eateries there.
2. Make a Compromise
We’re not suggesting you give up on your vegan values. Definitely not! But we do recognize how vital compromise will be between you and your friends on this trip.
Your friends may not want to go to a vegan place, but you can make a trade with them: you’ll do something low on your priority list if they dine with you vegan-style one night. Voila, everyone wins!
You can also compromise by choosing a non-vegan restaurant that still has vegan-friendly options. Cuisines known for being the vegan-friendliest include Chinese, Indian and Middle Eastern, although you can delve into other restaurants' menus to find more choices too.
And if you prefer to sample the local cuisine, most countries have a few national dishes that happen to be vegan.
3. Learn (a Bit of) the Language
Your travels with non-vegan friends may take you to places around the world where the locals don’t speak English. In which case, you should find out how to ask in the local language if your food is vegan.
Aside from the word "vegan," it’s also a good idea to learn the words for "meat", "fish", "eggs," "milk," etc. This will be especially important for more spontaneous, on-the-road meals. You might not have time to research what you’re eating, so you’ll want to know how to ask about it.
4. Choose Lodging with Cooking Facilities
You’re probably thinking, “I have no desire to cook while I’m on vacation,” and that makes complete sense. We’re not suggesting you spend all of your time slaving away to prepare a vegan feast each night.
However, giving yourself the option to cook, should you struggle to find a place to eat out, is a great idea. Plus, there are plenty of AirBnBs and home rentals that are both functional and architecturally gorgeous. In other words, you won’t be mad that you chose to stay in a property equipped with a kitchen.
5. Speak with Other Vegans in Your Destination
The best source for vegan-centric information is, of course, other vegans. And, thanks to the wonders of the Internet, you can get in touch with them before you even touch down in your final destination.
Sites like Facebook, Reddit and Couchsurfing are sure to have vegan community members in the place(s) you’ll visit. Find them, pose your questions and get the insider info on how to eat well, wherever it is you’re going.
6. Bring Supplies
At home, it’s easy to grab a vegan snack and go, and you’ll want that same ease while you travel. The only problem is that the corner store in Bangkok, Barcelona or Bogotá might not have the nibbles you normally rely on. So, before you leave, add a few vegan snacks to your bag, so you have back-ups just in case you’re unable to find your go-to while on the road.
Once you land and get to your accommodation, be sure to take a look around or ask your host where the nearest grocery store is. There, you can stock up on your vegan favorites, like fruit, nuts, veggies, hummus, etc.
7. Introduce Your Friends Before You Go
For many omnivores, the word "vegan" conjures up images of plates full of raw vegetables, crates full of spinach, or a rabbit nibbling on grass — none of which are representative of your diet or lifestyle.
So, to convince your friends to try more vegan places with you while you're on the road, introduce them to the cuisine ahead of time. Invite your travel buddies over for a vegan feast so they can discover how tasty, flavorful and filling it can be.
8. Reconvene After Dinner
Last but not least, you might have to leave your friends behind to get the vegan meal that you need — and that they don't want. Travel is all about trail-blazing, so don't be shy about dining alone. You can reconvene with your friends afterwards, when all of you are satisfied with the meals you’ve eaten and are ready to tackle another day's worth of exploring.
See the World, Vegan Style
Like we said, there’s no reason to compromise on your love of travel or your dedication to veganism while you’re on the road. The above eight tips prove you can have it all: adventure, good food and a lifetime’s worth of memories with the ones you love most, whether they’re vegan or not.
Do you have any other tips on how to stay vegan while traveling with non-vegan family and friends? Share them in the comments below!