Colorful smoothies, decorative vegan donuts, beautiful buddha bowls, yummy burgers and scrumptious curries fill your social feed when you type in vegan travel. There is so much delicious plant-based food to try around the globe. With the rise of veganism there is more awareness and choice of plant-based food and vegan products than ever before. Yet is it all plain sailing for traveling vegans in 2020? As we don’t live in a vegan world (yet!) vegans still face challenges whilst traveling. From sneaky non-vegan ingredients in dishes and animal tourism to logistical and language considerations, vegans have a few additional things to consider on their vegan trip. Furthermore, for many of us, eating delicious and authentic dishes is such an important part of the travel experience. How can you enjoy the local cuisine in Italy where fresh pasta is made of eggs and everything seems to be covered in huge amounts of cheese? If you have booked to visit sunny Portugal and your pocket guide book states how important seafood is, you might be wondering if you can still enjoy typical Portugese food, vegan-style or whether you will just be left with a house salad most evenings. Are you able to enjoy a relaxing holiday as a vegan following a plant-based diet when you can’t indulge in hearty national dishes? Vegans can still have incredible, life-changing travel experiences. There are just a few things to take into consideration, as a vegan, before buying that plane ticket for your next plant-based adventure.
Firstly though, what is veganism? The Vegan Society describe Veganism as a “way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.” Vegans value the gift of life above all else. Veganism means living a cruelty-free life and having compassion for creatures big and small, whether you are at home or whilst you are travelling. This set of ethics can make for extra challenges whilst traveling as a vegan.
1. Sneaky non-vegan ingredients
One reason that vegan travel is hard is due to sneaky non-vegan ingredients.
It is easy to spot fish and meat on a menu but other items are trickier to uncover.
Sneaky meat broth, pesky fish sauce, hidden meat chucks, annoying eggs and creamy soups are just some of the things that vegans have to uncover and avoid on their trip. You may have experienced the frustration of why something is not vegan in your hometown but you tend to know what dishes you can and can’t have. It can be much harder to find out whether or not something is plant-based in a different country and culture. Especially, if there is a different language in that country.
If you are travelling to a country as a vegan with a different language, consider downloading the vegan passport before you go, to help you communicate.
2. Animal Tourism
Another reason that vegan travel is hard, is animal tourism.
Many people want to see elephants on their trip to Southeast Asia. Understandable, as elephants are magnificent creatures. There are various elephant centers which allow tourists to bathe, hug and even ride elephants. In Bali there are also trekking elephant tours. However, hugging an elephant is a form of animal tourism which is not vegan.
That is not to say that vegans can’t see animals on their travels but they have to be careful when choosing how to see animals. Washing, bathing and riding an elephant can harm these wonderful creatures and actually increases the risk of elephants getting an infection from humans. In China, many pandas have died of infection due to being cuddled by tourists. Furthermore, these animals cannot choose to do what they wish to do when they wish to do it. The elephant or panda has to follow human schedules and is used for our entertainment.
The good news is that there are some amazing sanctuaries around the world who are putting the care of the animals first. Many of these involve humans simply watching animals in their natural habitats from an appropriate distance. Others enable vegan travelers to volunteer and help out at the sanctuary. Seeing animals just being themselves makes for magical travel memories.
As a vegan traveler make sure you do your research before visiting animal centers on your upcoming vegan trip.
3. Finding vegan-friendly accommodation
Vegan travel can be difficult as it is not always easy to find vegan-friendly accommodation. From a limited choice at breakfast to toiletries that have been tested on animals, researching and booking a vegan-friendly place to stay can be very time-consuming! Why can’t hotels list on their websites whether or not down is used in hotel pillows?
There are a few vegan hotels across the globe but otherwise, it is best to email a hotel in advance to ask questions and make sure they have plant-based breakfast options for you.
4. Logistical considerations on a vegan trip
Vegan travel is hard in some small towns but many cities have great vegan eateries. However, these wonderful vegan venues are not always necessarily close to the main tourist attractions.
The Happy Cow app is a great resource to find vegan-friendly food in an unfamiliar city. Yet few people realize the logistics that go into planning meals when you are on a vegan trip. First, you look to see what is close by to the site you are seeing. Secondly, you look at opening times and read the various reviews to pick a venue. Once you have picked a vegan-friendly café or restaurant you walk over there. Most of the time you can then enjoy a great vegan meal but sometimes you can arrive only to find that there are shut?! This happens in Europe frequently during the summer months in countries such as Spain and Italy. After all that research you are now back to square one and super hungry now! It is always a good idea to carry snacks with you on your vegan trip just in case.
As a vegan traveler you should be prepared to research plenty before and during your trip. Yet by researching you’ll be able to avoid the overpriced venues on the main tourist strip and discover some wonderful non-touristy parts of cities and eat at incredible local places.
5. Salad is not the only dish vegans can eat
As great as a fresh Caesar salad or a hot bowl of chunky fries can be, you don’t necessarily want to eat these two dishes every night. Vegans can eat a lot more than just salad!
Regardless of where you travel to in the world, there should be something that restaurants can make for you. Have a look at the local cuisine on the internet before you head to your destination. Are there any typical accidentally vegan dishes that you might be able to see on a menu or suggest at a restaurant? Is the food often made from scratch meaning you can ask them to remove an ingredient such as cheese on a pizza in Italy?
Make sure you come armed with suggestions as some chefs may not know what to serve you, meaning that if you leave it in their hands, you may just get a salad.
Does this mean that vegan travel is impossible?
While vegan travel comes with its own challenges, this does not mean that vegan travel is impossible! The world is full of beautiful places, inspiring experiences and amazing plant-based food just waiting to be discovered. When organising your own vegan trip, you need to be prepared to plan and research more than a non-vegan traveler in terms of where to stay, where to eat etc.
If you don’t want the extra hassle on your upcoming holiday you could join us on one of our organized vegan getaways! That way you can be sure that you will stay in vegan-friendly accommodation, meet like-minded individuals and be served incredible vegan food every day of your vegan trip! When you travel with us at The Getaway Co. we curate absolutely everything for you. Our wonderful team takes all the guesswork out of vegan travel to create the best possible vegan experience for you. Foodies will love our carefully-sourced, incredible plant-based food allowing you to taste the mouth-watering local cuisine without worrying about sneaky non-vegan ingredients. The delicious plant-based food ensures that you don’t miss out on one of the best parts of going on holiday! Furthermore, you will be with an amazing group of new compassionate friends. Being vegan and traveling with us isn’t difficult – you don’t have to do anything except show up!
Vegan travel can be challenging but with a little extra planning or by joining one of our vegan Getaways, you will have an amazing vegan trip! It’s not impossible to travel as a vegan. In fact, every year, it’s getting easier and easier to travel on a plant-based diet as people become more educated on the topic. To discover the best plant-based food the world has to offer, join us on a vegan Getaway where we curate everything to the highest standard and make it that much more exciting to travel as a compassionate individual!