How to Travel as a Vegan
One Restless writer shares her top tips on how to find the best vegan cuisine around the world
Before travelling, people usually look up the local museums, major attractions, the weather, fun activities – the list goes on. For me? Where to eat. I’ll be online, googling the best restaurants, stalking Instagram locations and pages for photos of menus and dishes. Even before my bags are packed I will already have my first meal planned.
I have to say I haven’t always been like this. After becoming vegan in 2014 food has since been a huge part of my life. I started cooking more, splurging on the occasional fancy meal, and hunting down as many burgers as my stomach can handle. But mostly it was important for me to show people that vegan food is delicious and better for your body (not to mention the planet). It is easy to make meat taste good but there is a real art in transforming a vegetable like cauliflower into something truly magical.
Luckily, travelling as a vegan in the 21st century with the help of the internet and smartphones has made finding vegan friendly spots that much easier. Not to mention the god send that is Google Translate when the language barrier has you feeling anxious. The rise of apps like Happy Cow and Zomato, not to mention the plethora of vegan blogs, makes it much easier to peruse menus, read reviews, and find that little vegan goldmine. When travelling in Italy, I ended up messaging a few people via Instagram for food recommendations and they were more than happy to provide some suggestions.
When travelling as a vegan, I find myself in parts of the city some tourists might not venture to, meeting locals and likeminded people that share the same passion for food and animals that I have. Let’s be honest, there are times when you come across absolute duds. Not all vegan places are good and when you are limited for choice, you take whatever bit of tofu you can find. On the other hand, it is amazing seeing the strides certain meat loving countries such as Portugal and Spain are making to explore vegan food.
It is also important to know that travelling as a vegan is not just limited to the food you consume but also products you use and activities you participate in. I try my best to use vegan and cruelty free products, from shampoo to makeup – as well as minimising my waste by using a refillable water bottle, containers, cutlery set, and carrying around an extra tote bag for shopping.
When it comes to ‘non-vegan’ activities, every country is different. Whether it is horse drawn carriages, bull fighting, elephant riding, or taking photos with exotic animals, there is nothing ethical about profiting off animals. When in Thailand, my group of friends made sure to book tours that did not include any animal exploitation and in India, I decided to stay at the hostel whilst the others went camel riding. Whilst you sometimes feel like you’re missing out, not participating in cruelty can help educate the industry and spark a conversation with fellow travellers about something they may have never considered before.
But to end on a positive and – most importantly – delicious note, I have included my top five spots from my travels and the dishes you must try.
Look no further than the combination laksa. This big bowl of deliciousness takes your tastebuds for a wild ride from start to finish. Be sure to wear some loose fitting clothes!
Possibly one of the most vegan friendly countries I have been to and one of the birthplaces for god’s gift to vegans; hummus. Make sure not to ask for a carrot stick because you can just dive right in with a piece of pita. Don’t forget to ask for some chili!
An all female run vegan restaurant? Sign me up! This cute little joint has only been open since July and they are thriving. The burgers were mouth watering and as someone who doesn’t have a sweet tooth, the cakes had me begging for more.
Of course when you are in Spain you must try tapas and whilst it can be a vegan’s worst nightmare, this place had a whole separate board for vegan dishes. You know it’s authentic when no one there speaks English but the food was rich and flavourful.
If their Instagram isn’t mouth watering enough, these wood fired pizzas are next level! I think the go to is a good old fashioned margarita but make sure to get some dipping sauce for your crusts.