Tips for Globetrotting Vegetarians
For vegetarians, international/ nation travel can be a little tricky – but nothing that cannot be overcome with a little planning! Doing a little footwork to understand the culture, finding nearby veg-friendly businesses, and being prepared to communicate your needs to the people around you goes a long way. Here are some a few tips for how to maintain a vegetarian lifestyle while traveling…
Accommodations are easy to overlook, but they are an aspect of vegan (and some vegetarian) travel. It may be a good idea to pack your own cruelty-free personal items. It can be difficult to find cruelty-free products abroad. Do not rely on the hotel to provide them for you unless they are cruelty-free chain.
Many hotels, hostels, and inns around the world provide food for their guests. Find out if the establishment is willing/able to accommodate a vegan and/or vegetarian diet. You’ll want to do this in advance so there are no unpleasant surprises once you get there.
On the Way
One of the toughest parts of vegetarian travel is getting there. Unfortunately, airports, airplane food, train stations, and bus stops are notoriously unfriendly to vegetarians. The best solution to this is to pack snacks!
Be sure to double-check those TSA restrictions before you pack. The definitions of liquid can be rather surprising, like peanut butter and jelly. Also check restrictions on fresh produce. Fresh fruits and veggies often end up in the trash at border crossings.
While You’re There
For most of us, eating is the highlight of our adventure. Traveling is the ultimate way to learn new ways to cook and eat. To ensure your experience is delightful, do a little footwork. Use an app like Happy Cow (click here to check out our favorite mobile apps for vegetarians) to locate vegetarian friendly restaurants and shops at your destination. Contact the businesses listed, just to make sure they are still there and still veg-friendly.
Write down or print this information so that you do not have to rely on foreign networks or WiFi to access the information – it will save you a lot of hassle. Knowing in advance where you can eat is half the battle of how to be a vegetarian while traveling.
Explore Local Cuisine
There is an abundance of beautiful destinations around the world that are ideal for vegetarian travel. We’re talking about places like India, Israel, Thailand, Malaysia, and most Western nations. Westernized nations have a healthy population of vegetarians, so there are lots of places to eat!
Be adventurous! Shop local markets for exotic new fruits and vegetables. International markets are brimming with incredible foods you can’t find in the US. Try that amazing smelling dish from the street vendor (after checking if it is okay). Watch and learn how people around the world prepare vegetarian food. You will probably learn new tricks and ideas for how to be a vegetarian.
Just as it is important to learn how to say “where is the bathroom,” and “can you help me find X,” it is important to be confident explaining your diet in the native language. Not everybody will understand what it means to be “vegetarian.” Learn how to say things like “I am allergic to meat” or “I cannot eat anything that comes from an animal” to make it simple and absolute.
Not everybody will understand, even after explaining it to them – so be prepared for the range of responses you may get. Always be polite and use your manners. Knowing how to say please and thank you in the native language will go a long way towards getting people to help you.
Eating Out vs. Cooking
Some travelers have the choice of eating out or cooking. Each has benefits and disadvantages.
- The benefits of cooking are that you have control over what you are eating.
- You can also make foods that are familiar, which is helpful for long-term travel.
- May not possible in many locations
- Suitable foods are not always available
Eating out benefits:
- You get a break from cooking
- Experience local cuisine.
Eating out disadvantages:
- May not be able to stick to a vegetarian diet
- Can get really expensive
If you plan to cook, make sure there are nearby markets that sell staple foods and produce. If your hotel does not provide a kitchen, consider packing a small propane stove or induction burner, plus a few kitchen essentials like a knife, cutting board, and a pot. With propane, make sure there is a place to buy propane nearby as the TSA frowns on traveling with explosive gasses. With induction, make sure you pack a power converter.
A Special Note on Hormone – Free Meats
One of the reasons many people choose a vegetarian diet is because meat in the American marketplace is laced – or in some cases inundated- with hormones. When traveling abroad, you may have the option to eat hormone free meats!
The European Union has banned hormones in meat production; so if hormones are the reason you have gone meat-free, you might enjoy a trip to Europe. Double check your destinations’ laws on meats and hormones so you know what you are getting yourself into.
It is not difficult to stick to a vegetarian diet while traveling, but it does require a little planning on your part. Knowing what you are walking into, being prepared to communicate your needs, and being flexible will help you have an enjoyable experience. If you have any great tips on how to be a vegetarian while globetrotting, or would like to share your stories about vegetarian travel – please, leave a comment!
Till Next Time,