The vegan vacationer

Samantha Bridges 

Travelling to a new city can be challenging. You’re entering into unchartered territory and you think to yourself, “What should I pack?” “What hotel am I going to stay at?” For vegans the question of “What am I going to eat?” also comes to mind. Food is a big part of our culture across the globe and it can be a culture shock for someone. With the right tips, traveling as a vegan can be easy the next time you plan a trip.

So what is like travelling as a vegan? Today it’s becoming easier than one would think. Many international restaurants and airlines are vegan-friendly, making it easier for the person to have everything they need for their trip. Vegan traveller Maria Giurcn and author of How To Travel The World As A Vegan, says her journey as a vegan has been easy to maintain and offers these helpful tricks.

“I maintain my values by packing some vegan snacks and pre-packaged meals in my luggage. A few camping companies prepare freeze-dried vegan meals which I find helpful. I also like to use airlines that are vegan-friendly as well, “she said.

Giurcan knows well that every trip can present challenges. So what happens when you might not have the option to go to a vegan-friendly restaurant?

“The main challenge is when you’re in a tour group and they have already set up a specific restaurant in mind. If this happens, I just ask the tour guide in advance to ask the restaurant for a vegan meal. I bring my own packaged vegan meals in case there’s no options,” Giurcan said.

Think of being vegan as a life philosophy: Know what you’re eating and where it’s coming from. Food writer Adam Waxman, though not vegan says even he encountered meal challenges while travelling to the southern U.S.

“I was travelling in the south and everything was fried. I was sitting in a diner and I went to order a salad and they looked at me like I was crazy,” says food expert Adam Waxman.

He advises vegans to do lots of food research in advance, and warns, “You won’t want to go to a typical diner.”

If you’re travelling for pleasure, find places that suit your lifestyle and where you know a little bit. Being prepared is essential, and researching is a quick and easy way of setting yourself up for opportunities rather than challenges. Waxman believes you should treat your veganism like a religion because it’s all about the attitude that you carry. Have the confidence to say, “No I can’t eat that” and find something else.

A bigger challenge is living in a new country. It takes a lot to adjust to the life you’re living now as opposed to the one you had back home. Your everyday life tasks such as grocery shopping and cooking becomes harder because you may not have the same quality of food you had back home. Toronto native Danika Cahill, who moved to Australia in early August, has found it harder than anticipated to live in a new country.

“I’ve been living in a hostel for two months and even though I love it here, there isn’t an oven. I’m tired of frying and boiling, I miss baking vegetables!” she said.

“Even though it’s been a little more challenging than I anticipated, I’ve been eating this way for so long it’s like second nature to me.”

Don’t be overwhelmed when planning your next trip. It’s just going to take a little more community and internet sleuthing to make you feel at peace. Learning recipes, researching local grocery stores and vegan restaurants in your area are just a few tricks to help with the preplanning. Reach out to online vegan bloggers, Twitter or Facebook groups that offer advice on where to eat, that way you will feel you’re prepared to visit your destination. Remember vegans; you’re there for the experience, so enjoy what the world has to offer.

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