We all love to travel. It’s just that for some people, exploring the unknown can be more challenging when it comes to following their dietary requirements. But don’t worry, traveling as a fully committed vegetarian or vegan is not impossible. It just needs a little more thinking outside the box and planning ahead.
Choose a destination suitable for vegetarian/ vegans
If you don’t want to bother with thinking too much about where and what you can eat during your travels, you could visit places that are considered vegan- or vegetarian-friendly. For vegetarians, India is a great choice. With about 40% of Indians as vegetarians, it is the country with the lowest meat consumption in the world.
Another good one is Thailand with its flavorful kitchen and large amounts of streetfood, tempting your taste buds everywhere you go. You just have to be careful about fish and oyster sauce that is used for some dishes. It can be recommendable to carry soy sauce with you so can ask street vendors not to use any sauce and spice things up yourself.
Another Asian country that is great for Vegetarians is Taiwan. Thanks to the Buddhist tradition, vegetarianism is a well-known concept in Taiwan, making it easy to find delicious dishes without meat.
As a pescatarian you will find your paradise in Japan. Fresh seafood is part of the Japanese kitchen and you will be able to enjoy lots of good stuff, from sushi to sashimi and many other awesome things to eat.
If you are planning to head to Europe, Italy might be your veggie food mecca. The Italian kitchen has so much more to offer than just pizza (not that pizza isn’t awesome, especially in Italy) and you will find yourself feasting on different mouth-watering specialties from region to region.
Ethiopia may not necessarily be on the bucket list for most travelers, but with the vast majority of Ethiopians belonging to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Wednesdays and Fridays are meat-free days. Accordingly, many Ethiopian dishes are traditionally suitable for vegetarians and even vegans.
A vegan diet makes traveling a little bit more tricky than traveling as a vegetarian, because it is not as common and less obvious if non-vegan ingredients are used for a dish. But there are some great places to visit as a vegan. One of them is Tel Aviv. You cannot only find the much beloved alltime favorites hummus and falafel there, but also loads of vegan-friendly places to eat at.
Definitely a vegan haven is Berlin. This city does not only attract folks from every corner of the world with its vibrant art and club scene, but it is also bursting with vegan restaurants and some vegan clothing stores.
Another European city to consider for vegan travelers is Glasgow. This might come as a surprise, but this Scottish city is known as the vegan capital of the UK and offers much more than the national dish haggis.
Oh, and have we mentioned Bali already? For vegetarians and vegans alike, the Indonesian island impresses not only with some of the best surf spots in the world, but also with its great choices of organic and vegan-friendly places to wine and dine at.
And if you tempted by the idea to go to Southeast Asia, why not stop by in Singapore? Singapore offers vegans Western and Asian dishes and is, according to happycow.net, one of the most veg-friendly cities in the world with 40 vegan restaurants.
Coming to the States, you will love San Francisco and Los Angeles for their many restaurants that cater to vegans and the eternal sunshine.
Call the airline ahead
In many places in the world it is not as easy as in Bali, Singapore or Thailand to get by as vegetarian or vegan. But this is no reason not to travel anywhere you want to in the world! After setting your preference on your dream destination and booking the flight, you can call the airline ahead. This is to make sure you will not have to starve during the flight because the food isn’t suitable. Usually there are veggie choices on long-haul flights, but especially as a vegan you will be on the safe side with a call.
Bring nutritious snacks and supplements
If you don’t know if you will be able to find suitable locations to eat at, you can stock up on healthy and nutritious snack bars from your home country. You might also want to take supplements with you.
Seek for community advice
A great website with useful tips and food guides is happycow.net where you can look up vegan- and vegetarian-friendly restaurants all over the world. Another good source for veg traveling are like-minded travelers running their own blogs sharing useful advice. But also social networks and social media channels like Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest will help you find what you are looking for when you use the right keywords. It can also be helpful to seek out the advice of communities like local Facebook groups, Meetups or Couchsurfing where you will have the awesome advantage of meeting locals during your travels.
Learn the local language
Be aware that veganism and vegetarianism are quite often not very common or even unknown concepts, thus sometimes people will not understand. Therefore it can be useful to learn a few words in the local language. But be careful, because it is possible that meat-free doesn’t actually always mean free of meat. Fish, chicken or meat broth for example are sometimes not considered as meat (lost in cultural translation). So maybe you can try to ask what is inside a dish. This will require you to understand some basics of the local language which is a good way to connect with the culture and can be useful in many other occasions. If you don’t have time time to learn the language, try to find out if you can get a cheap local sim card or use free wifi when provided. Nowadays, there are some great apps to help with translations.
Look out for accommodation that offers a kitchen
Depending on the accommodation options, you can stay in Airbnb apartments, stay with locals via Couchsurfing or choose hostels that have a kitchen and prepare your own food. In some countries, you will find local markets where you can easily find local vegetables and fruits at very low cost.
Embrace the culture and learn how to cook local dishes
If you want to learn something about the country you are visiting, you should learn about its culture. In some countries, it can be offensive to reject food that has been offered. Do not patronize locals by trying to tell them that they shouldn’t eat meat or why you might consider it immoral. Sometimes it is easier to make use of a white lie and to say that you have allergies. This can be much more easier to comprehend and thus will be accepted. One of the best ways to experience other cultures is by food though, and you should take the opportunity to eat like a local. If you want to be on the safe side, why not take a vegan / vegetarian cooking class where you learn how to cook local dishes?