Even for the most seasoned vegans, traveling can be a source of a lot of stress. All your hard-earned knowledge of the most vegan-friendly restaurants and salad bars, and the supermarket where you can find pre-made vegan sushi, is completely useless out there in the wide open world. At the airport, you walk across two terminals and only find a $1.00 banana and a $3.00 Clif bar. And when you arrive at the destination, you can’t seem to find anything without meat or dairy. Sound familiar? Here’s how you can survive traveling as a vegan.
1. Pack plenty of vegan snacks in your purse and your luggage: Even though you start out thinking, “I won’t be hungry because I’ll be sitting for 6 hours,” believe me, you will get hungry. And if you get hungry at the airport, you will be left with nothing but ridiculously expensive granola bars. ($1.50 for Nature’s Valley? I think not!) Even worse, if you find yourself out of options on the plane, you might be asking for tomato juice not because you love it but just so it blunts your hunger pangs. Start smart by packing healthy snacks like hummus with veggie sticks, trail mix with lots of dried fruit and nuts, or–my favorite–vegan energy bars. Portable fruits like oranges and bananas are always safe options, especially with single-packet peanut butter.
2. Research airport restaurants and airline meals: Most airports are not conducive to healthy eating for anyone, let alone vegans. But there are exceptions, so do a quick Google search a few days before departure. San Francisco airport has a ton of vegan options, and even one vegetarian eatery called the Plant Café. And these days, many airlines offer a non-dairy vegetarian option. I still dream about the completely vegan meal I got on an American Airlines flight circa 2006, and Sun Flour Baking Company‘s Vegan Chocolate Chip cookie that came as dessert. To this day, it is the best chocolate chip cookie I’ve ever had, vegan or non-vegan. Is it crazy to say that? No, just crazy good.
3. Learn how to say a few phrases in foreign language: If you’re going to a foreign country, you should definitely learn how to say “vegetarian,” “no-meat,” “no-cheese,” “no-butter,” in that language. Even if many local waiters speak English, your request in English might make the waiter doubtful until you emphatically shout, “sans beurre!” or “sensa formaggio!”
4. Let everyone know you’re vegan: If you’re traveling with a group or staying with a friend’s family, let everyone know that you’re a vegan. This is crucial as your group will watch out on your behalf throughout the trip. If they have an extra vegan snack, they’ll share with you; and they’ll review the menu to make sure you have something to eat. Don’t be afraid of drawing attention to yourself, since these people are your friends, after all. But they can’t help you if they don’t know you’re vegan.
5. Choose your destination wisely: Sometimes there is little you can do to control your destination. But if you’re traveling for pleasure, why not choose places that are already vegan-friendly? Check out our list of 10 Most Vegan-Friendly Cities and 6 Most Vegan Friendly Countries for inspiration!