How to stay vegan while travelling

Photo by Leio McLaren (@leiomclaren) on Unsplash

It’s easy to get into a routine of eating plant-based at home. You know what vegan products your local supermarket stocks and where to buy animal-free ingredients to whip up a tasty meal.

But what about when you’re out of your usual surroundings and travelling, either for business or pleasure?

The good news is that it’s much easier to travel as a vegan nowadays. It just takes a bit of pre-planning and research to make everything simple and smooth during your trip.

The journey

How are you getting to your destination? Driving? Bus or train? Flying?

If you’re loading up the car, make sure you take some snacks, maybe make sandwiches or a meal the day before and put it in a container. Motorway service stations may have some vegan meals, like this pie that’s served at BP stations across New Zealand, and several fast-food outlets now offer a vegan option if that’s your thing.

The same applies to trains, buses and coaches. It’s best to be prepared and take your own food, but it’s worth finding out if vegan options are available on your journey. For example, in the US rail giant Amtrak has introduced a plant-based wrap for sleeping car customers travelling on its Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited trains, while in the UK Virgin trains last year became the first UK rail operator to offer passengers a full vegan menu on its services.

If you’re travelling overseas by plane, most airlines have a vegan meal option but you do need to book it in advance. Some airlines are better than others – I recently got a decent vegan pizza with cheese and a fantastic creamy chocolate pudding on a flight from London to Sydney, which was a pleasant surprise.

Most airlines are starting to offer dairy-free milk for tea and coffee, and vegan butter to spread on your bread roll. Again though, it’s best to be prepared, especially on long-haul flights, and have your own nosh as a backup so you don’t go hungry or feel the need to eat the animal-based food options.

The destination

If you’re on a business trip and have been booked by your company into a particular hotel, you may need to check with the kitchen or in-house restaurant if there is one as to what breakfast, lunch and dinner options are available to you.

Fortunately, hotels are finally starting to recognise that more and more guests want animal-free options. The Hilton Bankside in London, UK, recently opened the world’s first vegan hotel suite, and Turkey is getting its own all-vegan hotel this month. I was thrilled to find a vegan croissant (clearly marked as such) in the breakfast buffet at a hotel in Switzerland recently. And even the most basic hotels are likely to offer a dairy-free milk to put on your cereal, toast with jam, and a selection of fruit for breakfast.

In terms of eating out, you’ll be well catered for in most cities worldwide. Use the HappyCow or Vanilla Bean websites to plan where you’ll eat (both are available as apps too). These provide up-to-date lists of restaurants that are either vegan, vegetarian with vegan options, or standard eateries that have vegan options.

There are many vegetarian and vegan hotels and B&Bs if you’d like to be well fed at every meal, or check out Vegvisits, which is similar to Airbnb, only just with vegetarian/vegan accommodation listings.

If you’re loving being vegan so much that you’re keen to join like-minded people in exploring the world, there are also now several vegan tour companies where you can do just that. VegVoyages, Vegan Travel Club and Vegan Cruises are three examples. There’s even an eco-vegan travel agency, which has been running for more than 20 years in the US: Green Earth Travel specialises in helping you plan special vegan and environmentally-conscious adventure trips worldwide.

If you’re planning to visit a more remote region, be prepared to take your own snacks, and you might be wise to consider self-catering accommodation if it’s available.

One final tool that’s handy to download is the Vegan Passport app, which will help you communicate your dietary requirements in 78 languages.

Bon (vegan) voyage!

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