10 Sep Seven Tips To Stick To Your Vegan Diet While Traveling
When you first turn vegan, many of us think that you have to stick close to home to maintain a plant-based diet. Think again. A growing number of resources online and on the ground, as well as changes in the hospitality industry, are making it easier than ever before to follow a plant-based diet. It is like a treasure hunt, which is not only doable, but enjoyable too.
Here are seven tips to give you a head start.
1. Get the app: Since the California-based site HappyCow.net started in 1999 as a primitive website, it has grown to become the world’s top directory of vegan, vegetarian and veg-friendly restaurants around the world. Travelers can use it for advance planning and, while on the road, let HappyCow’s mobile app steer them to the nearest options. Today, over 157,000 registered members have left more than 212,000 reviews, and the site continues to grow by 20% a year.
2. Splurge: High-end hotels, while they might not mention “the V-word,” are increasingly catering to their vegetarian and vegan customers. There is a clear movement in that direction, mostly due to recent documentaries, such as “What the Health” which stress the health and environmental concerns. High-end hotels, which usually ask for your preferences ahead of time, should know you are vegan, so they shouldn’t leave chocolate on pillows or milk in the fridge. If there’s fruit and soy milk, you know the hotel understands your diet, and that makes someone confident in the hotel in general.
3. Research local cuisine: Even cuisines that have a reputation for being extraordinarily difficult for vegans still dish up plenty of surprises if you dig deep enough. Spain, for example — known for its cured meats and seafood — has gazpacho, vegetable paella and a huge selection of vegan tapas. France — famous for cheese and rich beef flavors — has vegan specialties such as socca, a savory pancake made from chickpea flour that is hugely popular in the southern part of the country. Researching vegan options, offers you a new way to approach different cultures and cuisines.
4. Network: Research destinations before traveling and connect with local vegans via such outlets as Facebook, Couchsurfing, Airbnb, Meetup, local blogs and vegan restaurants and festivals.
5. State your needs: Once at your destination, introduce yourself as vegan wherever you stay and eat. When confronting a language barrier, use Google Translate’s photo scanner (for menus) and also show pictures of veg-friendly dishes. In case you run out of options, bring your own vegan snacks and a stash of vitamins and also carry containers, plastic bags and minimal eating utensils to set up your own kitchen. Above all, bring an open mind and an open heart, staying curious, respectful and positive, especially when eating fully vegan is not possible.
6. Book a vegan tour: There are more and more vegetarian and vegan-friendly trips you can book; with destinations including Indonesia, India, Croatia, Italy and Ireland. These trips offer vegan cooking classes and festivals, as well as visits to vegan-friendly stores.
7. Pick veg-friendly destinations: HappyCow recently released its first Top-10 list of vegan-friendly cities worldwide determined by number of offerings, population density and the staff’s impression of the “overall vegan-friendliness” of the city. Winners, starting with first place, are: Berlin; Los Angeles; Warsaw; Taipei, Taiwan; New York City; Singapore; London; Tel Aviv; Portland, Ore.; and San Francisco.