How to Eat Around the World as a Vegan

how to be vegan when travelling

Finding vegan meals in a foreign country depends largely on your destination, language barriers, and most importantly, the amount of time and effort you’ve invested in preparation. When you are visiting a capital in a country in Western Europe, it’s unlikely that you will have any problems as it is easy to find vegan restaurants.

How to Eat Around the World as a Vegan

However, if you are visiting a country like Argentina, Brazil, or UAE, it may not be as easy since these places aren't as accustomed to the concept of dining without cruelty. To add to this, you may not be able to communicate your needs because of a language barrier. This doesn’t mean that you can’t travel and enjoy different cuisines, it just means that you need to plan ahead. I've been travelling the world as a vegan since 2016, and I'm here to help you with these tips.

#1. Take Probiotic Supplements and Eat Probiotic Foods!

When travelling to a country where the sanitary practices are different from what you’re used to back home, you have a higher risk of developing traveller’s diarrhoea. The last thing you need is to be violently ill while travelling so the first thing you should do is strengthen your gut microbiome (the trillions of bacteria in your digestive system). There are several types of probiotics – while some are meant specifically for digestive health, others are best suited for vegans. You can look for the best probiotics in the market that have been vetted by dieticians to help you make a decision. You can also include probiotic foods in your diet as they are good sources of probiotic bacteria. Water-based kefir, kimchi, and sauerkraut are a few probiotic foods that can help prevent digestive problems. Research the names of vegan probiotic foods in the country that you are travelling to and be careful with packaged probiotic foods as some manufacturers add ingredients such as gelatin, lactose and other animal-derived ingredients.

#2. Research Restaurants in Advance!

There are times when it’s easy to find vegan foods and at other times, it will be a struggle. This is why it’s best to check vegan restaurants in the areas that you plan to visit. Once you get there, you will probably find other places to eat, but it’s reassuring to know that if you don’t find any places that cater to your needs, you can still count on the vegan restaurants that you’ve got on your list. Check out travel blogs and Instagram pages for info on vegan food options specific to an area. Apps like the Happy Cow can also help you locate a vegan restaurant. The important thing is that you go in with a plan so that there’s no chance that you land up searching for dinner options with a growling belly!

#3. Carry Trail Mix!

Trail mix is not a substitute for food but it’s an excellent snack that will keep you satiated while you’re out looking for a vegan restaurant. This is especially useful if you’re someone who enjoys going off the beaten path. Trail mix is very versatile so you can make your own with nuts, dried fruits, seeds, and even dark chocolate to enjoy while you’re exploring.

#4. Make a Note of Basic Diet-Related Phrases in the Local Language!

You can use an online translator to translate basic phrases such as “I don’t eat meat, fish, eggs, honey or dairy” into the local language of the area you are travelling to. Don’t use phrases like “I am a vegan” or “I don’t eat animal products” since the people in the area might not fully understand what you mean if you are not specific. For instance, in some areas, if you say that you don’t eat meat, they will assume that you’re okay with fish since they don’t consider it to be “meat”. Additionally, many languages don't yet have a word for veganism and are currently using vegetarianism, which is, of course not at all the same thing. Write your phrases down in the local language so that you can show it to them which eliminates any confusion due to mispronunciation. Mispronunciation is a common issue when visiting a foreign country and can lead to some truly hilarious situations. For instance, if you go to Brazil, something as innocent as asking for bread can quickly turn into a very awkward situation. The word for bread is “Pão” which is pronounced with a nasal vowel. If you pronounce it as “pow” (rhyming with cow) which is a common mistake for someone who speaks English, it means “stick” which is also Brazilian slang for the male member!

#5. Experiment with Local Fruits and Vegetables!

If you find yourself in a situation where you’re not able to get a vegan meal, the easiest thing to do is go to a market and pick up an assortment of locally grown fruits and vegetables. Fresh fruit and vegetables are bursting with flavour and since many of these are locally grown, you will probably never get the chance to enjoy them again.

What about you, what do you eat as vegan when you're travelling around the world? Feel free to share any tips & advice below!

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We overland. We eat plants and fungi. We live outside as much as possible. We are all connected. A female travel blogger overlanding and writing about ecotourism, ethical and sustainable travel, socially conscious travel and housesitting. An online travel magazine since 2015.


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