There is certainly an art to maintaining a vegan diet while traveling. It takes a bit of forethought, planning, and execution, but it is really not all that difficult and absolutely worth the work in the end. Feeling good on vacation is my (and I assume your) number one goal! Regardless of what kind of vacation you are going on (sightseeing, relaxing, visiting friends…) it is a break from daily life where you can leave all stresses and responsibilities behind and focus on being someone a little different, new, exciting. It gives you the time to concentrate on making yourself happy and life easy, just a bit more special.
For me, this includes staying healthy (ideally taking the time to be even healthier than my home life allows me). I do my best to eat fresh fruit every morning, tons of greens for lunch, and some local bean dish for dinner (and to get some exercise in between). Sticking to this super healthy diet allows me to feel energetic, awake, and most importantly, it allows me to indulge in local delicacies (often at times fried) without feeling guilty or slowed down.
What this all boils down to is traveling with adequate snacks and travelable meals and ordering well off the menu once you arrive. I have to admit, this is easier for some than others. Temptation plays a different role in each of our lives. Not ordering omelets in the morning is really difficult for Richie, but I see breakfast as an opportunity to start the day off feeling light and lively and I know that eggs will make me feel pretty much the opposite, so I opt for a fruit smoothie, toast and some jam or a fresh, local fruit plate and some granola (though it’s hard to find nut or soy milks in many places). If I’m really hungry I’ll go for some oj, steamed greens, toast, and maybe some hash browns. Either way I leave the table ready to start my day and hit the ground running.
For our travel days, here are some favorites I pack for Richie and I to snack on: popcorn, peanut butter covered pretzels, tamari almonds, kombucha green tea bags, ramen style veggie noodles (the just add water kind), miso soup cups (same type), apples, dried fruits, and Late July green tea “oreos”.
For meals once I get to my destination, I try my best to immerse myself in local cuisines. I find (at home and away) that ethnic foods better suit a vegan diet than an American one. I make it a point to order what local vegetarians would eat and request that they cook it without the butter (which is where dairy is most often sneakily cooked in). I also make an effort to call ahead (to both the hotel and any restaurant we eat in) to let them know that we are vegan so that in the case that they have something easy and special to prepare they have adequate time to accommodate us and are not caught off guard at their busiest hour. From my experience, hostesses, chefs, and waiters alike are happy to oblige and are totally respectful of our diet.
I’ve included some pictures from our current trip to Jamaica (sadly ending today). Jamaica was a very nice surprise in terms of the availability of vegetarian options. The Rastafarian people (an amazingly peace loving and friendly people) are traditionally vegetarian and many of the Jamaican restaurants serve what they call a Rasta Pasta which includes local vegetables such as callaloo (Richie’s new favorite veggie), ackee, pumpkin, and bammy. The pictures below include a phenomenal pumpkin soup which they serve with all meals in many restaurants here, roasted coconut toast with a homemade marmalade, Peppapot soup (a spicy veggie soup made entirely from local vegetables and spices), the best Lentil Biurger we've ever had, and more.