When you embrace a plant-based lifestyle, embarking on a journey to a non-vegan-friendly destination may seem like a culinary challenge for travellers but with some preparation and creativity, enjoying delicious and satisfying vegan meals is achievable. Here are some tips to help you navigate plant-based eating in countries where meat-centric cuisine dominates. Let's explore.
#1 Research and plan ahead
Before you travel, conduct thorough research on the local cuisine and familiarise yourself with the plant-based options available. Look for vegetarian or vegan-friendly restaurants, grocery store offerings, and local dishes that can be easily modified to suit your dietary preferences. Apps like HappyCow and Yelp can be valuable resources for finding vegan-friendly establishments. Plus, a quick Google search can provide tips on travelling to your specific destination.
#2 Learn key phrases
While English is widely spoken in many tourist destinations, learning a few basic phrases in the local language can go a long way. Educate yourself with phrases such as "I am vegan," "No meat, please," or "Is this dish vegan?" This effort not only helps you communicate your dietary needs but also demonstrates respect for the local culture.
With Google translate and other apps these days, you can most likely type these phrases in and show the local person your phone – or try and listen to the phrase and repeat it back.
#3 Engage with locals
Locals are often the best source of information on where to find plant-based options. Strike up conversations with locals, ask for recommendations, and inquire about vegan modifications to traditional dishes. Many people are eager to share their knowledge and help you discover the hidden gems of plant-based dining in their region. Plus, meeting some locals will enrich your travel experience.
#4 Choose traditional staples
Explore the traditional staples of the local cuisine that are naturally plant-based. In many cultures, grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruits form the foundation of meals. Dishes like rice and beans, vegetable curries, or grilled vegetables can often be found on menus and provide a delicious and authentic taste of the destination – just make sure they aren't using dairy products and haven't confused "vegetarian" with "vegan."
#5 Communicate clearly at restaurants
When dining out, communicate your dietary preferences clearly to the restaurant staff. Politely ask for modifications to existing dishes, such as removing meat or dairy. Most chefs are willing to accommodate dietary restrictions, especially when approached with respect and appreciation for their craft. They may even love seeing you appreciate whatever dishes they can come up with.
#6 Embrace street food
Street food is an integral part of many cultures and often offers affordable and convenient plant-based options. Explore local markets and street stalls for fresh fruit, grilled vegetables, falafel, or other vegan-friendly snacks. Be adventurous and open to trying new flavours from street vendors.
There's a website, for example, that is a guide to ordering vegan street food in China – and how to ask for snacks without the egg or with only vegetables. And another website about being vegan in Vietnam. The internet – and helpful traveller's websites – often have helpful information to make your travels easier.
#7 Carry your own snacks
Always have a stash of vegan snacks on hand, especially in destinations where plant-based options may be limited. Nuts, seeds, protein bars, and dried fruits are portable and can serve as a quick and convenient source of nutrition when vegan choices are scarce.
#8 Check out international cuisines
Seek out international restaurants that you know offer vegan-friendly dishes. Italian, Indian, Middle Eastern, and Asian cuisines often have a variety of plant-based options. These restaurants can be a welcome respite when local dishes pose challenges for plant-based eaters.
#9 Explore local grocery stores
Visit local grocery stores or markets to stock up on plant-based essentials. Fresh produce, nuts, seeds, grains, and plant-based snacks can be easily sourced, allowing you to prepare simple meals or snacks in your accommodation.
#10 Be flexible and adaptable
Flexibility is key when navigating non-vegan-friendly countries. While it may not always be possible to find vegan options that align perfectly with your preferences, being adaptable and open to trying new culinary experiences can lead to delightful discoveries.
It can be tough finding plant-based dishes in countries that aren't known for them, but with research, communication, and a spirit of culinary adventure, plant-based travellers can enjoy satisfying and culturally rich meals around the world.Why not tag us in your #vegantravel stories @triabeautyuk on Tria Beauty UK's Facebook or Instagram?