As a vegan and also passionate traveler I know how the search for vegan meals can be annoying as well as being surrounded by non-vegans. I’m pretty sure not everything I ate and trusted, someone who assured me it is vegan, was actually vegan. But that is not the point. We are trying our best to reduce harm and that is what counts. Nevertheless, I have some tips for you on how you can make sure your food is not poisoned by animal products. Because it is actually not so hard to stay vegan if you have discipline and follow some rules.
1. The answer is whole-foods
If you eat a whole food plant-based diet there is no way milk powder or other animal products sneak into your food. So what is whole food exactly? Whole Food is basically the opposite of junk food. It’s not processed food and it is free from additives or other artificial substances. Examples of whole foods are potatoes, rice, quinoa, lentils, beans, fruits, and vegetables. So being a raw vegan (meaning only consuming fruits, nuts, vegetables and not cooked food) might help you out. If you only eat fruits and vegetables it’s not only healthy but you are also sure that you didn’t cause harm to animals. Especially when you are traveling in exotic countries in Asia or South America you might enjoy eating only fruits and being on the safe side. If you don’t want to miss out cooked food just check my other tips!
2. Cook your own food
It’s simple if you cook your own food you know what is in there and you don’t have to worry if the restaurant or friend or wherever you’re eating really get what ‘vegan’ means. Cooking vegan is really simple and easy and affordable low budget backpackers like me. If you remember tip number one to choose whole foods it is impossible to accidentally eat something non-vegan. Regardless if you know the language in the country I’m sure in a market you will find plants like different types of potatoes, vegetables, legumes, etc and you know it doesn’t come from an animal. Plus it is also super exciting to try new edible plants !! I mean why are you traveling to other countries if you want to eat the same meals that you can eat in your home country?
2.1 Shopping: Check ingredients
Before you can cook your own food you have to go shopping, it’s easy to know if it’s vegan when you but fresh food like whole-foods (tip number 1) but if you want to try new things sometimes it can be really tricky to know if something contains animal products. So the first thing I check when I look at the ingredients are the bold words. Ingredients that can cause an allergic reaction has to be written in bold letters which include; milk, crustaceans, nuts, eggs, and fish. So if you see bold words it is very likely that it is an animal product. So what to do if you can’t read or speak the language and you have no idea what it is? Google it, easy or ask some work if they can tell you what that word means. Learning what milk, meat, and egg mean in a different language is also an advantage.
3. Locals friends
I can’t say this often enough; For surviving in another country and for the real culture experience you need locals. Making friends with locals is the best thing that will enrich your life as you also share your culture and your life with them. This is how we create connections and if you ask me I think it’s the most beautiful and valuable thing in this cold world. Plus you can have a huge influence if you explain to them what veganism means and all the reasons why you choose to have this vegan lifestyle. It is always good to have someone who understands and speaks the language so if you go out in a restaurant your friend can explain the waiter/waitress that you don’t want to have milk, egg or meat, etc in your meal. Also what I experienced is that locals are taken way more serious as tourists and there are more likely to really make sure they serve you a vegan meal.
4. Pack your own snacks
I assure you, you will always find something vegan to eat. However sometimes if you go on special trips that maybe take 1-2 days somewhere in the middle of nowhere maybe there won’t be anything suitable for you. Just for being on the safe side if I know I won’t return this day I pack myself some snack just for survival. Snacks can be some fruits, apples, bananas or something I prepared, toast and hummus or rice and beans. It is not only preventing you from spending money unnecessarily but also guarantees that you will stay vegan when you are traveling.
5. Vegan-friendly restaurants
If you’re done cooking all the time and you want to out with friends without always thinking about what if there’s no vegan food where you go. The easiest thing is to look in advance for vegan-friendly or even 100 % vegan restaurants. In that way, you don’t have to worry all the time if you’re getting something to eat or if you can trust the waiter if he understands what vegan means. It is also a great opportunity to show non-vegan friends that vegan food can be delicious and there is no need to harm animals for a good meal. Nowadays we have Apps like Happy Cow and just google to find out where is the best and also cheapest place to get your vegan food.
6. Avoid animal entertainment
This one shouldn’t be too hard to understand. Every animal use is animal abuse and humans found many cruel ways of making money with animals. It goes from Rodeos to Circuses, Sea world, Zoos and riding on elephants or camels. If you are vegan in your heart you will just know what is the right thing to do and where you shouldn’t spend your money to support animal cruelty. veganism is not just a diet it is a lifestyle and as a vegan, you don’t buy any animal products or support animals being used for any kind of entertainment.
Last but not least and the most important tip I can give you:
7. Find your vegan family
I think this is more than just about food same as veganism is about so much more than just food. Traveling with no vegans around you can be exhausting not only because you don’t yet where the best vegans places are but also because you feel misunderstood. Alone with your beliefs more and more doubting yourself and everything you do. Having support is so important and finding like-minded people is just such a good experience. I was traveling in Australia for a while in places where they were no vegans or at least I didn’t know about them and yes non-vegans can be amazing friends too I believe in that, but there is still a big difference being with someone who lives the same way with the same ethics and values. It just strengthens your mind to stay who you are and stay strong for the animals, environment and most importantly for yourself. So after a long talk with my vegan best friend from Germany, I decided to look in Facebook if I can find some vegan Groups and I found a demonstration and it was the right choice to go there. I immediately connected and finally felt like I have a purpose in life again. Also, they took me to all the best places for vegan food from Vegan Burgers to frozen yogurt and Asian soups. If you look for a vegan family you’ll find them and Social Media is always a great way to connect like Facebook. A great plus is that when you find other vegan friends you can plan protests together and have an influence in making the world a more compassionate one and this is one of the best feelings of the world at least for me.
In my experience, everything is possible if you truly believe in it and I believe in not hurting animals so doesn’t matter the situation I will stand up for my beliefs because I’m standing on the right side of history. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you accidentally ate something non-vegan, sometimes it’s not your fault and you can always learn from mistakes. I hope this helps any vegan who wants to travel but is a bit scared it’s going to be really hard to stay vegan. Don’t worry there is always a way and it is up to you to stay strong for your values. If you change your perspective I never think as being vegan as being restricted, I think it is even opening opportunities to have my impact on society and it is my purpose to use this. Staying vegan while you are traveling is a challenge but it is possible when you make decisions carefully and with the right intention.