You might be leaving your kitchen at home when you go away, but that doesn’t mean your plant-based diet is staying at home too. The problem is, it can sometimes be challenging to find healthy, plant-based foods and meals to enjoy while traveling – and let’s face it, you don’t want to eat anything but chips and bread for your entire trip!
And this can be particularly difficult if you’re going to a more remote location or somewhere where meat plays a big role in the local diet.
That being said, there is some good news. As the world increasingly learns about the health benefits of vegan and plant-based diets, more and more planet-friendly foods are becoming readily available.
Still, it is always good to be prepared, so you don’t get caught out and end up hungry or eating unhealthy snacks just to get you through the day. So, to help you out, we’ve put together this guide of six ways you can stick to a plant-based diet when you’re traveling.
1. Always plan ahead
One of the best ways to ensure that you can enjoy your trip and stick to your plant-based diet (and budget) is to plan ahead. And there are serval ways you can do this.
Firstly, we suggest picking up some of your favorite healthy plant-based snacks, providing these travel well, of course. For example, bags of dried fruit, nuts, or trail mix can be great for snacking at the airport and on the plane without having to spend loads of money. Plus, you can keep these in your carry-on.
Not only this, but in most cases, you can even pack some of your favorite plant-based items in your checked luggage, providing it doesn’t break any of the international travel or customs rules, that is. It also pays to find out if you’re going to have access to a microwave, mini-fridge, or whole kitchen in your accommodation. This way, you have a better idea of whether you’ll be able to cook and, therefore, what plant-based essentials you should pack.
You could even take it one step further and get a small cooler to take with you. This might fit in your luggage, or you might have to check this separately; either way, this allows you to take more perishable goods if you know you’ll have access to cooking space when you arrive at your destination.
2. Look for plant-based options before you travel
Following on from the first point, it’s also a good idea to do an online search for any vegan/vegetarian restaurants or shops before you set off on your trip. It’s a good idea to check out vegetarian and vegan-friendly travel guides to find the best places to visit.
Or, at the very least, look for places to eat that serve good plant-based options on their menu. This way, you can feel confident in the knowledge that you can grab some good plant-based grub near your accommodation, and you won’t be struggling to find dinner each day.
3. Track down a local supermarket
Even if you don’t have cooking space, you can still pop to the local supermarket and stock up on some plant-based goods. In most places, you’ll be able to get hold of some fresh fruit, nuts, and pulses at the very least. In some countries, you’ll also have access to meat alternatives.
What’s more, you can always plan ahead and do a quick Google search to find out what supermarkets are going to be near to your accommodation. This way, you can determine whether there will be larger shops that offer more products or whether you might need to venture further out to get your hands on a larger variety of plant-based goods. You might also find that in places like the US, Thailand, and other popular destinations, there are entire vegan/plant-based supermarkets in some of the bigger tourist hotspots.
4. Find out if there’s a useful app you can download
There are more and more apps being created to help connect foodies with plant-based options, so it’s always worth checking if there’s one you can use in your chosen destination. For example, there is an app called Happy Cow which displays all available vegetarian and vegan restaurants in your area; this even includes tips and reviews.
This can be really helpful in countries where you don’t speak the local language. But this is by no means the only app out there, so do some research before you go.
5. Learn the most important food words
If you don’t speak the local language, it’s a good idea to learn some of the most important food words, so you don’t get caught out or confused either in a supermarket or restaurant. Some of the keywords or phrases you may wish to learn include:
- (I am) Vegetarian
- (I am) Vegan
- No dairy
- No meat
If you’re not comfortable with your pronunciation and you’re worried about getting caught confused, you could always write these phrases down on a bit of paper or ask a local to do this for you. That way, you can present this to the waiter or shop assistant as needed.
6. Eat like a local
Finally, don’t just assume that you’re going to struggle to find plant-based foods everywhere you go. In fact, there are lots of cultures out there that eat largely vegetarian or vegan diets. For example, places like India, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Morocco have lots of plant-based cuisine in their cultural dishes and use local vegetables, herbs, and spices to create them.
Because of this, one way to help you stick to your plant-based diet is to avoid the tourist traps and places where the only veggie option is going to be a bowl of chips. By hitting up the local spots and dining like a local, you might find that you actually have a lot more plant-based options available to you, as they are not trying to cater to more Westernised meat-eating diets.