5 Tips for a Vegans on Vacation
In recent years, it seems like vegetarianism and veganism is catching on. Instead of surfing the vegetable section of Betty Crocker, vegetarian cookbooks often have an entire shelf at the local book store. There are vegan bloggers galore, and in large cities there are often entire restaurants dedicated to the diet. But what happens if you leave the comfort of home to travel while vegan?
1. Learn key phrases and do some research. If you are traveling to a non-English speaking country, you should already be learning some key phrases to be polite, just add ‘vegetarian’ or ‘no meat’ and learn those words so that you can read a menu. Do some research on local dishes that already suit your diet and what vegetarian restaurants you would like to try.
Carmancita's homemade dinner and fresh juice in San Salvador, El Salvador
2. Come prepared. I always pack Kind Bars or Cliff Bars, no matter what the destination. Even if it’s a really high end hotel, I may not want to wait for room service, or have time to grab a snack during the day. If it something more exotic, bars can be a great back up if you are out of options.
3. Know what to avoid. Know the terms for the foods you want to avoid in the native language. For example, Indian food is often a great option for vegetarians, but make sure to avoid ghee, which is butter and paneer, which is cheese. Also, soups are almost always never a good idea, even vegetable and tomato soups are sometimes made with chicken broth.
Sometimes several courses may be necessary (those are mushrooms, by the way)! Los Cabos, Mexico
4. Mix and match. Look at the whole menu at a restaurant. There may not be a vegetarian entrée, but is there a salad, side and appetizer you could combine for a great meal?
Giant salad in Cuenca, Ecuador - Yum!
5. Markets, markets, markets! Exploring the markets in a foreign destination is one of my favorite things to do, vegetarian or not. The culture really shines, and buying local is always a great idea. Even better, they are a great place to score lots of produce and local fruit to fill up on, and they are usually cheap too!
6. Don’t sweat the small stuff. When traveling (and eating out) I’m way more flexible about what I eat than what I would be cooking at home. Fresh pasta may have egg in it, but is it worth fretting about when exploring Rome? Sometimes a little flexibility is worth it – in my humble opinion.