Beginners Guide to Surviving Veganism Abroad

For West Midlands Vegan Festival we were asked to do a talk on vegan travel. We decided to put together a little presentation on "Beginners Guide to Vegan Travel" We had a small audience, but it was exactly what we were hoping for!

We call this our Beginners Guide to Vegan Travel. We’ve talked to people that are hesitant to travel because of the hassle in finding food in a strange new place as a vegan. In a lot of comments on our blog people are surprised at the places vegan food can be found. Hopefully by the end of this post you will have enough information to get you started and survive as a vegan abroad.



HELPFUL TIPS

1. Language Barrier

Travelling to other countries, you might experience a language barrier. It would be ideal if you can speak the language of the place you are travelling to but we know this is not always the case. Maybe you can speak a little bit of the language but not enough to confidently ask for vegan food. English speaking is pretty widespread but sometimes you might need some help getting the message across. Luckily there is a thing called the Vegan Passport. The Vegan Society makes one and an app you can purchase too. The vegan passport is a little passport sized book with an explanation of veganism and a request for vegan food in every language you can imagine so you can find food anywhere.

Also, try learning some key words and phrases like vegan, eggs, dairy, cheese, milk, meat, fish, beef, pork, chicken, etc so that you can read food labels and ask for food in restaurants. We’ve found that products will be labelled vegan in Europe. If you are in doubt you can always stick to buying wholefoods.

2. Useful Apps

The most useful travel planner for vegans is Happy Cow. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a website and app that shows all the vegan, vegetarian and veg friendly restaurants in the area. It is pretty comprehensive. Some places you go you will be overwhelmed with choice and other places might have one veg-friendly place or nothing at all. .
Madrid, Spain

Barnivore is a useful site as well. FYI, sometimes animal products are used in the filtration process of making alcohol. Barnivore is a website that shows you which alcohol is vegan friendly and which is not vegan friendly. Sometimes alcohol says vegan on the label but there is lots of accidentally vegan alcohol that is not labelled.

3. Planning Ahead

Veganism is getting more and more convenient as the options increase everywhere but as you probably know it does require a bit more planning than being an omnivore. You have 3 options to ensure you aren’t disappointed on your holiday food wise. You can self cater, you can eat out in vegan friendly restaurants, or you can do a mixture of both.

Self catering is easy. If you are staying in a hotel, or hostel with a kitchen, then you can get some food at the supermarket, cook back at your hostel. Hostels pretty much always have a kitchen. You could even make some friends and cook them vegan food. Pack some snacks and a lunch for during the day. You’ll end up saving money compared to eating in restaurants for every meal. If you’re not going to a city then self catering is probably the best way to go.

If you’d rather not self cater then it’s important to plan ahead to ensure you don’t end up disappointed.. Your plans don’t have to be concrete, but search Happy Cow and find the restaurants in the area you're going to so you know the options. You can star them on google maps and find them later. Look on Barnivore and make a note of the common vegan beers/drinks found in that country before you head to the bar.

You can plan your day around the sights you want to see or around the vegan friendly places you want to eat. Make note of the vegan places around the tourists sights you want to see. Sometimes in search of a vegan restaurant you might have an adventure. You can plan your day around visiting vegan friendly restaurants and then see what sights there is to see around those restaurants.

Brittany, France

4. Social Media

A way to make your trip even better is to join local FB groups to get help from the locals. You can also find meetups, events and could even create a meetup in order to meet other vegans. One Facebook group we like is called Vegan Travel. It is great for asking a vegan question about any destination – and getting a great response! Twitter and Instagram can be useful as well. Don’t forget to read vegan travel blogs. Chances are someone has already travelled to the place you are headed and they might have some advice to share.

5. Vegan Friendly Places

If you want to make travel easy you can go to a place like Berlin which is known as being a vegan capital. Berlin has a lot of vegan restaurants but is truly vegan friendly because of the number of non-veg places there that offer a vegan option as well. Prague happens to have more vegan restaurants per capita thanks to the many Loving Hut locations there.
Berlin, Germany

North America has many vegan friendly cities, such as Portland and New York City. From what we see online Mexico City has a lot of vegan restaurants.

Our friends have reported back that they found vegan stuff in Thailand, Japan and South Africa. You might not know that Fry’s mock meats are from South Africa! Also reading other vegan travel bloggers we’ve found that vegans go just about everywhere you can imagine. Reading their blogs gives you an idea about what you are getting yourself into and how to survive.

6. Moving Abroad

One form of travel that you might consider is getting a working visa like we did. We have what is called the Youth Mobility Scheme visa. Most countries have mutual agreements with other countries for youth working visas which allow youth under the age of 30 or 35 to live and work in the country for 1-2 years. People often call this form of travel slow travel.You get more of a chance to live and experience the place you travel to and you can use it as a base to travel to other places as well.

7. Don't Miss Out

Hopefully we’ve put any fears you might have had about travelling as a vegan to rest. Travelling is an enriching experience. You can go to all sorts of destinations vegan friendly or not with the right planning.
Ljubljana, Slovenia
One of the best parts of travelling as a vegan is getting to experience the vegan scene in other countries. There are vegans all over the world and they have their own culture. Fortunately vegans in every country have veganised their own dishes like vegan poutine, vegan haggis, vegan currywurst, vegan pierogies, vegan goulash, vegan tortilla etc etc.. Sometimes you’ll find dishes that are accidentally vegan and other times there are dishes that can be easily modified to be made vegan.

Travelling is a great opportunity to see the vegan scene in other countries as they will have a different spin on what veganism looks like. Searching and planning ahead can entertain you and bring you to interesting places you wouldn’t have experienced otherwise. Work your way out of your comfort zone gradually with each trip. Go somewhere and tell us about it.

HAPPY TRAVELLING

Hopefully we’ve given you all some ideas on how to survive as a vegan abroad. If anyone has any questions or comments send us an email or ask in the comments below.



Comments

  1. This is such a great guide, full of common sense! So often I have people ask me how I manage to be vegan and live the nomadic life, and I basically say exactly what you've written here! With a bit of nous and forethought, it's really not difficult!

    I remember being so happy when I bought my vegan passport, back in 2006... I've never actually used it though, despite (to date) having lived in 51 places around the world! Haven't had many mishaps though! Ha ha!

    Love your Ljubljana pic - I currently live about 10km from the city (been spending winters in Slovenia since 2014)!

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    Replies
    1. So nice to hear you say this. It great to hear you are doing fine as a vegan. Slovenia is beautiful, right?

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  2. Great tips. I wouldn't have thought to create a meetup when traveling.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks. Yeah it can be a great way to meet locals you have soimething in common with.

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