This week’s post for Meatless Monday is about the travelling vegetarian/vegan. From flying to exploring a foreign destination, here are some things the vegetarian/vegan can do to maintain their eating habits on the road.
Most international airlines offer a choice of special meals. You can specify lacto-ovo vegetarian, vegan and even Hindu. The vegan meals tend to be soy based while the Hindu meals have you eating samosas for breakfast, lunch and supper. Lacto-ovo is just that: dairy and eggs with some vegetables and bread thrown in for good measure. Be aware that most desserts in the special meals consist of fruit. Good luck getting chocolate cake for afters. And often the ‘butter’ alternative is a margarine known for its use of gelatin. Likely the ingredients won’t be listed and the airline staff may not know the contents. Best to skip the margarine all together.
Alternatively you can buy your own food at the airport and take it onto the plane. For ideas about how different airports rate on the availability of healthy vegetarian/vegan food options, check out our Snacks on the Go feature on our sister site Weal World Travel (Nutrition & Travel).
Seek out the bakeries, local grocery stores and farmers’ markets. This way you have more control over what you eat.
Have material with you that states either verbally or through visuals that you are vegetarian/vegan. Google translate is a free online program where you can type in the phrase “I’m vegetarian/vegan” and have it translated (you hope) into different languages. Some specialty travel stores sell picture books that feature fairly standard symbols that represent the main concerns of travellers e.g. “where’s the bathroom?” “I need medical help” etc. There is usually a section with various animals pictured and you can point to what you don’t eat and shake your head vigorously. Note: In some cultures shaking the head back and forth actually means yes rather than no. Determine this ahead of time as part of your pre-trip planning.
Consult websites that feature vegetarian/vegan restaurant listings and reviews. Happy Cow is a great one.
Ask other vegetarian/vegan travellers about their experience.
Wait for our vegetarian/vegan friendly travel guide to be published! (Hopefully sooner rather than later. We’re working on the 5-year plan).
Take note of vegetarian/vegan friendly destinations and cuisine. Speaking of which…
Vegetarian/vegan friendly destinations:
Canada, New Zealand and the U.S.
Major cities in these countries offer a number of vegetarian/vegan options in the way of restaurants and specialty grocery stores.
Vegetarian/vegan friendly cuisines:
Ethiopia – For approximately 250 days of the year orthodox Christians fast by not eating various animal products and sugar. Lentils, carrots, onions, potatoes and tomatoes will become your friends.
Lebanon/Syria/Jordan – Before the Europeans arbitrarily drew borders between these countries this area was one mass and so share a similar cuisine. Popular items include falafel (chickpea patties/balls), hummous (chickpea dip) and various fresh salads.
India – In Hindu India, the cow is queen (which would make the bull king). You won’t find beef patties in these kitchens. A number of dishes are naturally vegetarian/vegan but note that not all dishes have this distinction. Certain animal products are still eaten in parts of India.
Disclaimer: This list is by no means exhaustive. We hope you found it helpful. Anything to add (i.e. comments/suggestions), let us know.