Who here has been abroad whilst being Vegan and was completely unprepared?
– (Waves hand frantically) Me!
This week’s post is a preparation guide for being a Vegan Abroad. I cannot say that I have been a Vegan Abroad that many times, as I’ve only acquired this diet and lifestyle a little over a year now. Since then I’ve travelled to three different countries and I’ll admit, temptation came over me whilst being away (Don’t worry, I didn’t give in!) But it wasn’t easy. This may have reduced my appetite for travel, as I assumed it’d be too much work and preparation. In hindsight, I realised that I limited my destination choices to countries that I believed were vegan forward. Or it could have simply been because I was broke? – Who knows?
In light of this, I hope this guide will encourage you to be a Vegan Abroad more often and help with your preparing in doing so. The guide will be broken down into 5 detailed steps.
Have a Happy Read!
Become one with Google! It is vital that you research before booking/getting to your destination. I had to learn this the hard way. When researching, try to keep your search relatively broad. You do not want to be confined into a small box and limiting your experience. I promise you there is usually always a Vegan option; even in the places you’d expect it least. When searching for Vegan food abroad, and there appears to be little to no Vegan specific restaurants, I’ll suggest this; Look for Asian restaurants such as Indian, Thai, Chinese and Vietnamese.
These cuisines typically have a lot of ‘unintentionally’ vegan options. Most dairy products are usually almost completely eradicated from Asian diets, which makes it easier to find a vegan option on their menus. It is historic that most parts of Asia are lactose intolerant mainly due to geographical structure. Some reasons are because most parts are hilly and not ideal for mammals such as cows and goats. These animals are usually used only for labor. Or they probably just didn’t think it seemed right to drink another animal’s milk? Hmmmm (No Shade to the Non-Vegans ;))
Depending on where you’re travelling to and how long for, I’ll definitely encourage you to pack your favorite vegan snacks and some dry goods. This may mean paying extra to check-in your luggage, however, it will save you when hunger comes knocking and you need a strong enough antidote to settle the eruption that’s about to take place. You definitely don’t want to be a hungry vegan on holiday. It’s possibly the most frustrating thing yet!
Walking with a carton of your favorite milk alternative and a vegan cereal is not too heavy to travel with, and you are likely to have a mini fridge in your room/apartment to store this for the duration that you’re there for. It saves on paying for an over-priced buffet restaurant that you can barely eat from. Having your favorite snacks will also mean that when you’re on excursions and tours, you can whip out your snack and stop yourself from becoming a hungry Hulk.
If you’re a moral vegan, you may want to pack your own vegan toiletries, so that you will not be subjected to the ones in your hotel/accommodation. These things are unfortunately overlooked and we shouldn’t have to compromise. Ensure you neatly pack all vegan goodies away!
It can be very handy to learn how to say the word Vegan in the local language of where ever you’re travelling to. This can help to avoid the unintentional game of charades, trying to explain yourself to the waiter/chef. For instance, when I was in Portugal, I found it very difficult trying to explain what Veganism was, and how it differed from a Vegetarian diet.
You should also learn the translations for ingredients such as, milk, egg and meat/fish. This will avoid you from buying a non-vegan product, especially if you’re going to cook whilst abroad. I had to learn this the hard way. On Alex’s & my last night in Portugal, I decided that I wanted to make use of our self catering accommodation to cook us a lovely pasta dinner; partially because I didn’t want to go out, but mainly because we were en route to Broke-ville. We went to the local Lidl and bought Pasta, Fresh vegetables and a ready made Bolognese sauce. Nowhere on the packaging indicated that this wasn’t suitable for vegans, it appeared to be a simple tomato sauce that was lightly pre-seasoned. I had only learned the dairy translations, but not the meat ones (How smart of me, right?) I started to prepare my dish and poured out the pasta sauce into the saucer. I noticed the sauce started to thicken up quickly, which doesn’t typically happen with vegetables. For a moment I thought it might have been the mushrooms, but it still didn’t seem right. Yes! You guessed it! It was pieces of meat (beef) in the sauce. Apparently this is how it’s done locally. I was so annoyed and frustrated, especially because it was past 10 pm and I was hungry. We quickly ran to the local Supermarket, hoping it was opened and was lucky to get there in time to buy a brand that we were more familiar which also had ENGLISH ingredients! (Dolmio)
- Self-Catering Accommodation
By having a self-catering accommodation, it’ll give you the opportunity to cook for yourself and have more control over what you eat. You may think this is the last thing you want to do on holiday, but having this option as a vegan is priceless! Sometimes there’s nothing better than a good home cooked meal, and if you’re abroad with little to no good vegan options, it won’t take long to boil a packet Indomie ramen noodles and sip it whilst watching the sunset. I kid! I’m sure you can be more creative with other options. Although, our budget is getting squeezed here, and it’s going to get tighter, so this may actually be a genuine option.
You can cook, a simple, yet tasty rice and vegetable dish and have it your way! (No, not like burger King!) This can definitely save on money and will be ideal, especially if you’re travelling in a group as you can all chip in for groceries.
Before travelling, I’d recommend you to look into the transportation links of your destination. If your accommodation is relatively far from most vegan restaurants, you may want to consider staying somewhere that has at least one vegan option in close proximity. If this is not possible, I’d recommend at least within a half a mile of good transportation links.
When Alex and I went to Portugal, we decided to rent an automatic car and to some extent, it paid off. He was extremely reluctant as it would have been his first time driving on the other side of the road, but this was our best option as Uber and transportationw as quite pricey in Portugal. Parking was a breeze and we only had to fill up the tank once in the 5 days that we were there for. By having the convenience of the car, we were able to venture out further to look for food and found some great options. Click link for Portugal write up (Vegan Abroad: Portugal, Algarve)
All in all, it can get pricey for a vegan travelling, just so that we can have the same convenience of non-vegans. But this shall not stop us. It appears everyday that this lifestyle is a growing trend, and soon we’ll be everywhere like wifi.
Have any travel tips for vegans? Leave a comment below and let us know!
This post first appeared on Vegan Abroad, please read the originial post: here