Saturday, 10 December 2016

Tips on Vegan Eating while Travelling

In this post I talked about our recent trip around Europe and there are some restaurant tips for the cities we visited.

I also have some general tips on how to have a nice holiday, and not live off of chips:

  • Plan ahead. I researched each city we were visiting and saved web pages as PDF's in my phone (in case we didn't have wifi access) with details of vegan friendly places. Sites like Happy Cow and TripAdvisor list vegetarian and vegan restaurants. Or just a google search will find you plenty of sites. 
  • You can also download areas of google maps to use offline to take with you, and can search for addresses in it as usual so this can come in handy with finding restaurants from the PDF's.
  • If you can't plan ahead that much, i.e. if you don't know where you will be staying, don't wait until you are hungry to try to find somewhere to eat. We tend to keep an eye out while walking around sightseeing in the day for places to go for dinner, look at menus outside restaurants and look out for likely places, and make a note of them. If you stop somewhere for a drink or coffee ask to see their menu or ask if they do any vegan options. It hardly takes up any time out of your day (we don't stop and look at every menu just if we are going into somewhere for a coffee or passing the door) and it means you can just have dinner or lunch later without any hassle.
  • Language Barriers - I took the Vegan Passport from the Vegan Society with me on our recent trip because we were visiting so many different places with different languages, I didn't use it but it was nice to know if I was really stuck I could. I actually find the wording in it a little arrogant and I was reluctant to give it to someone (It doesn't ask what on the menu is vegan for example, it says to prepare me something and "be imaginative", kind of makes me cringe). If I am going to one country I tend to research how to say a few stock phrases (and take them on paper too in case my pronunciation is terrible!) like "I am vegan" "no meat" "no dairy" "no eggs" "please can you help me" "can you show me what on your menu is vegan" etc. Also please, thank you and hello don't go amiss just to be polite. 
  • We had the car on our recent trip so took a plug in cool box, and bought things to go in it along the way from supermarkets. This helped with a driving holiday as the choice in service stations isn't always great (even for meat eaters anyway!) so I'd recommend taking a cool box and some supplies if you are going on a road trip.
  • Hotel breakfasts actually have more potential than you think. I brought a carton of soy milk so I could have tea, cereal and granola. Some places have soy milk but not many I've been to. Also toast and jam, some of the pastries (ask what's in them) and fruit from a continental breakfast. If there is a cooked breakfast there are often hash browns, beans, mushrooms (if not cooked in butter) and sometimes even a veggie sausage (though I don't see it too often).
  • Think about how you eat at home, if the local cuisine isn't very vegan friendly then think about Indian, Chinese, Thai, Italian, Mexican etc. 
  • If you do find you are not eating ideally because options are limited think outside the box on ways to get some better food. You can always go to supermarkets or markets and get some fruit or healthy snacks for lunch instead of having fast food. You can visit farmers markets or local farm shops for some fresh fruit. I usually make sure to take vitamins with me, although I actually forgot them on our most recent trip (I don't take them very often at home), just in case the food isn't ideal to keep me feeling good
  • You might need to be flexible in restaurants. For example if the vegan option is only salad and that won't be enough for you then maybe order some sides to go with it too, or order a platter of sides instead.
  • If in doubt ask someone! Ask at your hotel reception, or your tour guide or the host you are staying with. They will be able to find out for you if they don't know anywhere.
  • Remember at a push there is always chips/fries, or plain side salad, or a plain jacket potato, or a burger king veggie burger without cheese and mayo is vegan. You won't starve, you might just have to lower your standards momentarily :)
Happy travels!

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