Wednesday 7 August 2019

How to Eat Vegan on Holiday

Sometimes it’s easy to get a bit carried away as a UK vegan. I won’t lie, we have it pretty good. Most places have at least one vegan option and there are lots of vegan-only cafes, restaurants and businesses popping up all over the place (even in places you might not expect). With access to vegan food on the rise and seemingly abundant in the UK, we can easily take this for granted, especially if we go to other places. In this post I’m sharing some of the things I do before going away, for whatever reason, I hope they prove useful. (I also want to add a disclaimer that I have never been out of Europe, so I can’t offer any advice to people travelling to other areas of the world, but I hope that my points can translate to people visiting other areas as well.)

Title image taken at Vegabond, Amsterdam.

Do your research!

I can’t stress this enough. Research and knowing where you have options to go in various areas of where you’re going is so useful to me. You can suddenly find that somewhere you didn’t think would be very good for vegan food is actually super vegan friendly. I’m constantly looking for new places to eat, even if they’re near where I live – it’s so exciting. Food tourism is definitely a huge thing for any vegan when you go away – it definitely is for me and my friends. We find amazing food and find that it’s a great way to explore wherever we’re headed as it often takes us off the beaten track. 

One of the main tools I use when researching places to get vegan food is Happy Cow. Oh Happy Cow, how I love you. Genuinely, this website (or app if you prefer and/or have enough storage) is incredible. I use it all the time, even just looking up places I have no plans on visiting in the near future. You just have to type in the area you’re looking for (it may already come up with options near to your location) and it was come up with various places which have vegan options available. This includes fully vegan, veggie with vegan options, majority omnivore with some vegan options, ice-cream and health food stores. Whilst Happy Cow is amazing and can show you a lot of places, it doesn’t necessarily show everywhere available as it is updated by users, and new vegan options and businesses are popping up all the time. Nevertheless, it is still my go to resource for finding where to eat when I’m somewhere I don’t know. 

Another way of researching is to look at YouTube videos and blogs to find out about other people’s experiences being vegan wherever you’re going. I loved reading travel and food posts anyway, but it’s always useful to get a person’s proper opinion on a place and they could help offer some insight you may not have got elsewhere. I know that for me blogs and YouTube videos were key to my being able to eat when at Disneyland earlier this year, as there aren’t many other resources you can use., and I ended up writing about my experiences there on my blog as well. Just search ‘vegan in [place you’re visiting] and you should get several pieces popping up (including a few of my travel posts plug plug).

It may sound a bit silly, but Google Maps can also be useful, although it may not be so detailed as other options. 

Although you may be spontaneous in other areas of your trip, it’s always useful having a few back up options just in case you can’t find anywhere straight away.

If you’re somewhere with a different language to yours, learn key phrases in that language beforehand

Whilst English is spoken in lots of places (oof that colonialism, am I right?!), it is useful to know the right words to correctly communicate what you need to. As you can’t learn a whole language in a few months, it’s practical to only learn a few simple words or phrases. Here, Google Translate is your friend (as well as friends who speak other languages or even people on social media who are willing to answer a desperate tweet). In many places, vegan is just vegan, but it’s still reassuring to know that you’re being understood. Make a list of useful words (such as the word for vegan, milk, eggs, meat, butter, animal, etc.) and keep them on a note on your phone to help you when you’re out and about. 

Make sure that if you’re travelling with other people, they understand and are comfortable

I’m lucky to have friends who are vegan and veggie, so finding food means finding food for us all, but sometimes it can be awkward when trying to find food for a group of people when you’re the only vegan there. Whilst you may not be able to control their views on veganism or change them overnight, try to show that you’re doing your best to ensure your food is sorted and under control. It’s always good to be around people who are supportive of your choices and are helping make sure you have enough to eat.

Find supermarkets nearby

One of the only ways to ensure that you’ll have plenty of vegan food (especially if you want to save money) is to cook it yourself. Obviously, in some cases you won’t be able to cook for yourself if you don’t have the facilities, but there are still cold options and snacks which can be useful. If you’re staying in a flat, Airbnb or any other place where you have access to a kitchen, then making your own food can be the perfect way of saving money and ensuring you’re getting the nutrients you need. Most places will have the ingredients for a basic lentil bolognaise or bean chilli, and probably soya milk as a basis. It’s definitely worth a further look around the shop as well as they may have some other products – for example, when I was in Prague last June, we found some pre-marinated tofu for a reasonable price, fried it and used in wraps for our lunches. This gives you freedom, as long as you’re willing to put the extra time in to cook and prep.

Ask questions and say you’re vegan more than you’d probably be comfortable with. 

Asking questions about the food you’re potentially going to eat is so crucial. It’s really the only way to know what’s going on with the food really. As a fairly seasoned vegan by now, I’m used to checking labels and asking questions, but this can be daunting when you’re just starting out. Honestly, if you’re a new vegan, it takes time to get used to and gets easier. 

If there’s anything non-vegan you can adapt in a simply way, do it!

On my recent holiday with my family, I was constantly asking for things without cheese. I had various pasta dishes and several veggie pizzas without cheese (I did check that the pasta and pizza bases were vegan before ordering). There are often things which you can do and often people will be accommodating. If they’re not accommodating you then say that you’re allergic to whatever it is you want to remove or change, then you’ll probably be taken much more seriously than saying you’re vegan. It may be warping the truth, but at the same time I know several vegans who have developed lactose intolerances since removing animal products from their diet, so it’s not stretching it that far and is probable. 

If all else fails: 

Ask for chips. 

If you liked this post you might like: 5 Kitchen Essentials as a Vegan Student

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