So you just hit the ‘Confirm’ button on that online travel booking and you are all set to go! Filled with excitement, you’re already thinking of what you’ll wear on the trip, creating an itinerary of the sights you want to see, thinking of the amazing new people you will meet and all the delicious and new foods you are going to try! Being a vegan traveler doesn’t have to be daunting – it can be exciting! You’d be surprised how many vegan dishes you can find all over the world, even in countries which are known for being incredibly meat-centric.
Below you’ll find my top tips, recommendations, websites and apps for traveling as a vegan, so you can enjoy a worry-free, healthy, and cruelty-free vacation!
Do Some Research Beforehand
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” –Benjamin Franklin
Ok, so I have a confession to make: I HATE planning. To be honest, in most aspects of life, I feel that too much planning actually leads to those plans falling through, and that spontaneity is the way to go, because you almost always discover amazing new things by accident. I usually only plan when absolutely necessary, and one of those times is when looking for accommodation and eating in cities I will be visiting soon.
Let’s face it, even if there isn’t a single vegan-friendly restaurant in sight, you are not going to starve. Where there’s a grocery store, there’s at least breads, veg, fruits, nuts, seeds etc. But, with a little research, time and effort, you can always find great places to stay, and restaurants in any given city where you will be able to eat not only vegan but CREATIVE, delicious and beautiful food!
Tech it Up: My Top Websites and Apps for Vegan Travel
I absolutely love this website and app! Couchsurfing is an online community where you offer up your couch (or spare bed) to a traveler visiting or passing through your city. In turn, you can also couchsurf on your travels! This is all completely free so as to promote meeting and making new friends and real connections.
There is a meetup option on Couchsurfing which I have used and made countless lifelong friends from! You can scroll through user profiles, look for someone who is vegan and who might even share the same interests as you and ask them if they would like to meet up for a meal or drink. This is an incredible option because you can not only potentially make a great new friend, but you get the unparalleled information from a local person who might know tips and vegan options that you might not have caught online.
This is a brand new website so I don’t have any experience using it yet, but it looks very promising! A kind of vegan version of air BNB and Couchsurfing, Veg-visits allows you to search for local accommodation knowing that you will be staying in a vegan, vegetarian, or even raw-vegan home! Like air BNB you can rent an entire place for yourself, or like Couchsurfing, you can book accommodation where you can interact with your vegan hosts.
Local vegan Facebook groups:
Almost every country, and even many cities, have their very own vegan Facebook group where local vegans interact. If you request to join a group of your desired destination, you too will be able to interact with the locals before your arrival to get some hot tips, and if you use the group’s “search” option with keywords such as “restaurant” or “café”, you’ll probably be able to find lots of threads with local pointers. Here are some groups for example: Vegan NYC, Vegan London, Vegan Toronto, Vegan Dublin, Vegan Berlin, Vegan Sydney.
This is one of my absolute favorites! The website is free to use and the app itself is $2.99 in the App Store (well worth it!). Simply type in any city and up pops local restaurants (which you can filter by cuisine or category) listed as vegetarian, vegan or having vegan options. This is such a huge time saver over manually searching out ‘vegan restaurants in Italy,’ for example. Everything is all right there in one place!
I have a serious obsession with Yelp and have a super nerdy, albeit awesome confession to make: I have been a Yelp Elite member for the past three years! I even got a special little badge on my profile – go me! How did I get that? Because I consistently review and rate restaurants, provide accurate photos of establishments and the food, give tips, do live check-ins, and engage with other users. It always makes me happy to see a comment of a fellow vegan on Yelp who had no idea that a restaurant had a vegan menu or that you could “veganize” items on a menu.
A lot of restaurants on Yelp don’t categorize themselves as vegan because they understandably feel if their menu isn’t entirely vegan, they might appear to be misleading. This sometimes creates a ‘finding a needle in the haystack’ situation when looking for amazing places that DO have vegan options but aren’t listed as fully vegan.
Yelp is a great place to help each other find out the amazing vegan spots to eat in cities across the world. Furthermore, while you might go to Happy Cow to find out all the vegan restaurants in a city, Yelp is where you go to see photos of the restaurant and food and find previous customers’ tips and honest reviews on the food, menu, opening hours and exact location. Yelp even gives you the closest public transit stops (if applicable) so you know how to get there when you arrive on your vacation!
I LOVE this FREE app!
Green Hopping helps facilitate access to nearby healthy plant-based eateries by placing all vegan, raw, gluten-free and vegetarian restaurants, as well as green juice bars, cold-pressed juice bars, green smoothie bars and health food stores on a map. This app will likely help you locate alternative vegan places, for example they even add in farm-to-table restaurants! I love it!
So although the above apps and websites are way more laser-focused on finding places to eat by city, what about the local dishes that one absolutely must try? Search out what the traditional dishes are and if anywhere does a vegan version. For example, before my first visit to Montreal, I learned of a must have dish called poutine. What is poutine? It’s basically fries smothered in gravy (either meat-based or vegetarian) and cheese curds, sometimes with a variety of other toppings. That is definitely NOT vegan, but I wanted to try it. So through an online search, I found a couple places that did vegan poutine! Thanks to that online search, I was able to enjoy a popular local dish, try something new AND stay true to myself as a vegan all at the same time.
Keep healthy snacks with you like a low sugar energy bar, granola, dried fruit, nuts, and fresh fruits that are easy to throw in your purse like a banana or apple. (I also keep non-toxic fruit wipes with me when I travel!) I love keeping packets of vegan oatmeal with me because usually when traveling you are able to find hot water, so you can make a more filling snack or breakfast.
Find a health food store and stock up on local vegan snacks while you travel. Almost every town and city around the world has a health food store with healthy vegan options.
Go to local vegan events. You can look up and join vegan events to both support the local vegan community and get to know local vegans who’ll be happy to shower you with insider tips.
Ask locals if they have any tips on vegan places. If you are at a vegan restaurant or juice bar, ask the person behind the counter if they know of other awesome places like theirs where you can find vegan food or vegan options. Also be sure to ask someone wherever you’re staying, whether that be the front desk at your hotel, or your Airbnb or Couchsurfing host. Even if they aren’t vegan, chances are they have been asked before or have a friend who is vegan or at least vegetarian. Don’t be afraid to ask, you might be surprised what you’ll discover.
Try an Alternative Vegan Vacation
If you are just not into planning and searching, and rather have everything readymade, you could just opt for an alternative vegan vacation where everything is sorted on your behalf!
A growing number of companies these days offer holidays to popular travel destinations while taking care of all the nitty-gritty details. You can then just focus on the fun side of things: eating great vegan food, making new vegan friends and enjoying the local hot spots without compromising on ethics. Here are a few of the vegan vacation options we know. If you know of others, please share in the comments section below:
Holistic Holiday at Sea – vegan cruises
Global Roots – vegan retreats
Vegan Vacations Start Here – organized vegan tours
Vegan Cruise Planners – vegan cruises
VegNews vacations – organized vegan tours
Whether traveling by yourself or with a group, I hope you found this info helpful, and I wish you a wonderful holiday!
Guest post by Aditi Giasotta
Hi, my name is Aditi and I’m a traveler, vegan, green beauty lover and social mediaphile. I love exploring other cultures and learning about people from all over the world! Anything that is different from me is something I love to learn about! I have been vegan going on 3 years now and love how it’s made me feel, both from a health and moral standpoint. There are so many benefits from living a cruelty-free lifestyle.
I am the founder and writer at my blog The Yatra Project where I blend my loves for travel, health and veganism and green beauty all in one. I am here on The Vegan Woman to show everyone out there that you CAN travel as a vegan without it being a daunting experience, quite the opposite – it can be exciting and fun to discover awesome, cruelty-free dishes around the world!
Cover image: Shutterstock. Modifications: TVW.