Vegan Travel Interview with The Vegan Word



Caitlin Galer-Unti is an author and the vegan food and travel writer behind The Vegan Word. She has published two books, The Essential Vegan Travel Guide and the Barcelona Vegan Guide. Caitlin has lived in the US, UK and Spain and has travelled to more than 30 countries (and counting!).

IG: http://instagram.com/theveganword

Website: http://theveganword.com/







This month we have the pleasure to post yet another interesting interview with a vegan traveller. Caitlin has a fun vegan travel blog and instagram to follow. She has been all around the world and her blog has lots of informative posts to help you on your travels including vegan guidebooks, vegan recipes, vegan travel experiences and other information to help make vegan travel easy. She even has a post on Dog-Friendly Places in London which is such a great idea. We feel lucky to have the chance to interview her and we really enjoyed her answers. Without further ado here is our interview with Caitlin.

Why are you travelling? 
I’ve always loved learning about other cultures and languages. As soon as I started travelling, I couldn’t stop! I love travel as a way to learn about the world (and how simultaneously similar and different people are across the globe) but also a way to learn about myself.



Why did you become vegan?
I was brought up vegetarian, and always loved animals. I stopped wearing leather as a child when I found out where it came from, and I always thought I wasn’t hurting any animals by being vegetarian. I was really shocked when I learned about the truth of dairy and egg farming! I went vegan ten years ago, and it was the best decision. It’s been amazing watching the world become more and more vegan-friendly and I can’t wait to see what the next ten years bring!




Which city did you find to be the most vegan-friendly that you have travelled to? 
While I’ve been to quite a few vegan hotspots like Berlin, Taipei was my favourite place to travel as a vegan and the most vegan-friendly place I’ve been, in my opinion. It was the only place I’ve ever travelled where I’d just walk down the street and spot vegetarian restaurant after vegetarian restaurant, and just pop into whichever one struck my fancy. There were vegetarian restaurants on every block!

Which came first travel or veganism? How did one affect the other?
Veganism, for the most part. I went vegan at university and while I’d travelled previously with my parents (as a vegetarian), my solo travel, long-term travel and almost all of my travel internationally happened came after going vegan. It’s made me seek out vegan-friendly places to travel, although I’m definitely not afraid to go to a place that isn’t necessarily known for its vegan-friendliness, if it’s somewhere I really want to go. I think it’s made me travel very differently to how I would have if I weren’t vegan. I seek out connections, recommendations and advice far more than others I travellers I know who aren’t vegan. And I spend a lot more time researching where to eat – but this means I end up eating way more exciting and better food! ;) Overall, I think travelling as a vegan is BETTER than non-vegan travel, for so many reasons: experiencing a totally different side to a city (and often going outside of main tourist areas), connecting with other vegans (I’ve had some incredible hospitality thanks to the shared connection of being vegan) and eating some amazing meals, because I took the time to research the best vegan food in a given destination.



Which country would you move to for their vegan scene?

I’m based in London, so I’m pretty spoilt for vegan choice here (and it’s getting better all the time!) but if I were moving somewhere purely for the vegan scene, it would be Berlin. Just for the sheer breadth of the vegan scene there.



Would you rather go to any vegan restaurant OR local non-veg restaurants for veganised meals? Why?

Both! I love supporting vegan businesses and I always try to seek out vegan restaurants in my travels, if there are any. But I do love trying local dishes so if I know there are local dishes that are accidentally vegan, I always try those while I’m there too.


What resource do you use when finding vegan food on your travels?

Like many vegans, HappyCow is my number 1 resource! I use a lot of methods to research vegan food (which I outlined in my book The Essential Vegan Travel Guide) but my second favourite these days after HappyCow is Instagram. I like searching hashtags like #veganstockholm but I’ll also usually post where I’m going (and geo-tag it) and often people will send me their suggestions. Vegans are such a helpful bunch! For example, when I was in Sofia, Bulgaria a couple of months ago a vegan on Instagram sent me her suggestion for a specific dish (creamy porcini and truffle tagliatelle) at a restaurant we’d overlooked (due to mixed reviews). The tagliatelle was my favourite meal in Sofia!



Do you research how vegan-friendly a destination is before booking your travels?
Yes. I’ll usually do a quick search on HappyCow; if it doesn’t turn up anything I’ll have a look at how vegan-friendly the local cuisine is. Usually there’s vegan food to be had somewhere; if it’s a destination I really want to visit I won’t let lack of vegan food put me off (you can always rent an Airbnb or apartment with a kitchen) but if I’m on the fence with the destination I’ll choose somewhere more vegan-friendly. I am a foodie and I love a destination where I eat out and get good vegan food.



Do you prefer travelling to vegan-friendly destinations? Or do you prefer to discover how vegan-friendly a place is when you arrive?
I love when places surprise me by being more vegan-friendly than I expected though! Although I do also love going to a destination that I know is vegan-friendly (like Berlin) if I’m in the mood to eat plenty of vegan food. ;) (Or in the case of Berlin, sampling half a dozen cakes in two days.)



Which vegan-friendly places would you recommend others visit?
There are so many! The most interesting vegan travel ‘loophole’ I’ve found recently (which few people are talking about) is vegan Lent in Eastern Europe. In fact, I planned a whole trip around it this year. A couple of years ago, a friend from Romania told me during Lent, they give up meat, eggs and dairy, and you can find vegan food in almost any restaurant. I went to Transylvania, Romania during Lent in 2015 and it was amazing! Not only restaurants, but bakeries had lots of vegan pastries. So I planned a return trip this year, and visited Bulgaria, Serbia and Romania. I couldn’t believe just how many vegan pastries the bakeries in Serbia had!



How do you stay healthy while travelling? What are your go-to snacks?
When I travel (and at home) I walk as many places as I can, rather than getting public transport. I find walking so much more enjoyable, and it’s a great way to see a place and get to know it! Generally, if it’s less than a 45 minute or hour-long walk, I’ll walk it. I usually walk 7 to 10 miles a day, more if I’m travelling.

I always have a few Nakd bars in my bag, in case I get stuck on a delayed flight without food, or a restaurant is closed, etc. 



Do you prefer cooking your own meals when travelling or do you like eating out at restaurants?
It depends how long I’m travelling. If I’m just away for a weekend or a week, I like eating out, so I can experience as many vegan/vegan-friendly restaurants as I can. If I travel longer than a week, I tend to get sick of eating out, and crave a home-cooked meal. I love cooking, although I do find it frustrating sometimes cooking in a kitchen that’s not mine (I’m used to my pots and pans and how quickly my hob takes to heat them). On the other hand, I love discovering new ingredients and cooking with them so shopping in a local market and cooking while travelling can be really fun in that regard.



How do you choose the type of accommodation you want to stay in?
Depending on whether or not I want cooking facilities, I’ll usually choose either a guesthouse or a holiday apartment with a kitchen. If I’m going somewhere vegan-friendly, I always try and choose a place that’s near vegan restaurants! There’s nothing worse than arriving late from a flight and having to travel across town to a restaurant…



Would you rather solo travel, travel with someone or go on group tours?
I’m not a fan of group tours, personally. The few day group tours I’ve been on have frustrated me because I like to do things at my own pace and not have someone else telling me where I need to be or when. I like both solo travel and travelling with someone else. When I travel solo I love the flexibility of doing whatever I want, whenever I feel like it. I also feel like I meet more locals because they’re more likely to approach you and talk to you when you’re on your own. On the other hand, I like travelling with others too because it’s nice to share experiences with someone and reflect back on those memories together. And travelling with other vegans is the best because you can share food and try so much more!



Do you document your vegan travel finds? if so, please link post or page
Yes! I write guides to vegan cities on my site The Vegan Word, and on Instagram I post Stories (usually more or less in real time) and pictures from my travels.



What is your best travel advice/tip for a new travelling vegan?
It’s much easier than you might expect! Don’t panic. Look on Happycow, vegan travel blogs and Instagram and you’ll find most places are pretty vegan-friendly. And don’t be afraid to travel. If there’s somewhere you really want to go, there’s always a way. I’ve helped people who wanted to be vegan on the Trans-Siberian railway, in Mongolia and in the Galapagos Islands—and they’ve managed. Just be sure to do your research in advance!



Thank you, Caitlin, for participating in our vegan travel interview! Everyone make sure to read her blog and follow her on Instagram too!

If you are a vegan traveller and would like to be included in our next mini interviews or star in a post on your own with more elaborate questions on your vegan travel lifestyle please email us at wanderlustvegans@gmail.com for more details.

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