When I told everyone I would be studying abroad this summer, it seemed the first response I got was “Wow, how exciting!” and the second was “Are you going to be vegan while traveling?”. I had to try so hard every time not to roll my eyes. Of course, I would stay vegan while traveling, and it is not too hard! During my study abroad, I stayed in England but also flew back and forth between France and Amsterdam. Moreover, I have also been traveling back and forth between US states multiple times per year due to my choice of college. In all of my traveling situations, I have never been put in a situation where I could not find vegan food. Here I am going to share a few tips for anyone who might be worried about how to eat vegan in airports, on the road, or in foreign countries.
First, let’s talk about airports and airplanes. If you are on a long flight where the plane will be providing a meal, call the airline and request a vegan meal. When I did this recently, the vegan option was actually entitled “vegetarian non-dairy”, but it means the same thing to their staff. The airplane meal will still be pretty bland, but on the bright-side, you will get your food before everyone else ;). If possible, I recommend bringing some of your own snacks. Between US states, I have always been able to bring fresh fruit in my carry-on, but you can call ahead to your airline if you are unsure. If you are traveling internationally, you probably cannot bring fruit at all. My best snack tips are nuts (almonds, cashews, etc.), granola bars, protein bars, trail mix, or dry cereal. Almost all airlines allow these types of foods in your carry-on baggage. Bringing your own snacks ensures that you do not have to spend ridiculous amounts of money in the airport to find snacks, and you will save time in case you end up running late to catch your plane. However, if you do have to search for food at the airport, there will usually be a type of convenience store that will have bags of pretzels, trail mix, granola bars, and sometimes fruit cups. If you are looking for an actual meal, most airports I have been in have had smoothie bars (make sure the smoothies are made with fruit juice, water, or non-dairy milk), sandwich shops (look for a hummus+veggie variety), and Asian restaurants (rice, vegetables, noodles, even tofu!). These places will likely have vegan-friendly meals to get you filled up for your flight.
As for eating vegan on the road, I would also advise you to pack some food ahead of time (this will also save money because eating out can be so expensive!). Your friends in this case will be sandwiches, containers of rice/beans/veg, bananas, oranges, apples, dates, nuts, and protein bars. While stopping to eat, some fast-food places actually have a lot of vegan options. I won’t list them all here, but if you type in google “vegan options at _____” there is almost always a list you can find! I recommend Taco Bell, Del Taco, Starbucks, Panera, Subway, and White Castle (yes, they really have veggie burgers!).
Finally, for eating vegan in restaurants (in any country), I have you covered! Maybe you are super lucky and are traveling with people who let you have a say in the choice of restaurant. If this is the case, use the website “HappyCow” and let it find your location. Then, you will hopefully see a list of restaurants that have vegan-friendly options or are completely vegan/vegetarian. For other cases, if you are in a less-touristy area where dining staff might not speak your language, I would google translate ahead of time how to say “I do not eat meat, eggs, or dairy” ahead of time. My first restaurant recommendation is to find Italian. Italian places are known for their pasta and pizza. When I was in Europe this summer, I found that many places actually labeled their menus with vegetarian and vegan symbols. SHOUTOUT AND THANK YOU TO THOSE PLACES. If this is not the case, you simply ask the waiter to talk to the Chef and see if the pasta noodles contain any eggs or dairy. Usually, they do not! Then you can order a pasta with marinara sauce (no parmesan). For me, I am a pizza gal. I ask if the crust has eggs or dairy (so far, it never has) and then I get all the vegetable toppings with no cheese. You cannot even tell it has no cheese if you get all the goods on top ☺. Another good option is Asian. Chinese, Japanese, Thai, etc. will have something good for you. Do not assume any dish with tofu is vegan, many still have eggs. If it is not obvious what is vegan on the menu, you should never be afraid to ask. Just specify that you are looking for no eggs, milk, fish, or meat. If there is not a main dish that you want, order a side of rice and a side of vegetables and ask for some soy sauce! Japanese places are known for sushi, and most are happy to make you a plate of vegetable sushi, even if it is not on the menu (it usually is though!). My favorite thing to order at Thai restaurants is Red Curry with vegetables, fried tofu, and rice. Most of their curries are made with coconut milk, but I always double check with the waiter if it is not labeled. Mexican restaurants would be a good third option because, as long as their beans are NOT cooked in animal fat, you can order something such as a burrito containing rice, beans, avocado, and salsa! If their rice and beans are not vegan, you can at least munch on some chips and salsa. If you find yourself somewhere else and have no idea what to order, you should always talk to the waiter or the chef VERY NICELY and explain what you do and do not eat. You would be surprised how accommodating people can be! If you're at a chain restaurant, just type into google “Vegan at Red Robbins”, or wherever you are, and you will see what other people have liked there!
I hope this sincerely help some of you and helped calm your nerves if you are thinking about traveling. You should never let your diet/ lifestyle stop you from seeing this magical Earth! If there is anything else I can help you with, or you want another post on, please comment below.
Love, Karlee <3