Traveling Veg and Eating Well
July 20, 2011
By Guest Author

Vegetarians and vegans going abroad should consider their dietary needs when planning for their trip.  Traveling and eating veg is not an easy feat. But with a little research and the use of the website and app, you can get eat well anywhere across the world.

Since I’ve traveled to more countries in the last few years than I have in my whole life, I’ve become quite the expert on eating healthy while on the move. I will be honest, it takes a lot of time, research, and motivation, in foreign countries especially, but it’s all worth it when you show up at that one place that has a delicious meal you can enjoy. Here’s a bit of my process:

Planning a Destination
First I look on HappyCow to see which cities in the country I am visiting have the most vegan options. Yes, I like to go off the beaten path as well, but I leave those places for day trips when I can bring a packed lunch. Also, look at travel blogs of vegans to see what places they consider veg-friendly.

Finding Accommodations
Look for areas that have vegan or veg-friendly restaurants within walking distance or a short trip on public transportation. Usually, these are the “hot” spots or backpacker areas. Most likely there are hostels in these areas.

Look for accommodations that have mini-fridges and microwaves or that let patrons use a communal fridge and kitchen or consider doing a farm stay. These options allow you to buy food from the grocery store and make your own meals. You don’t have to eat out every meal (which will save you money). Every town, no matter how small, will likely have fresh produce, canned beans, oatmeal and grains so you can whip up a simple meal for yourself.

Utilize Your Smartphone
When I went to Asia for three months last year I relied on my smartphone for WiFi. Almost everywhere I went, save for Japan and tiny cities, had easy-to-access WiFi. Make sure you have Google Maps and the HappyCow applications on your phone and know which international chains (like McDonald’s, Starbucks, CoffeeWorld, etc.) have free WiFi in case you get lost.

At least 2 hours prior to lunch or dinner I would get on HappyCow to research where I was going to eat. There are 3 different ways you can find restaurants on the site: (1) Browse by area, (2) use the Distance (radius) search, or (3) Search from the top header of any page using Google.  Once you find a suitable location, it’s a good idea to call ahead and ask about some menu options. Always have a backup place in case your first choice is closed or something comes up. If you are without a car and using public transportation give yourself at least an hour to get to your destination. When I was in Bangkok, Thailand it was literally a 3-hour sojourn to eat lunch across town.

Ethnic Food is Your Friend
If you can find an ethnic restaurant like Indian, Thai, Chinese, Moroccan, Mediterranean, Italian, Japanese, or Mexican you will more likely be able to get a vegan meal. Invest in the Vegan Passport guide which has a page for every language saying what vegans eat and don’t eat.

Find a Natural Food Store or Farmers’ Market
Listed on the HappyCow site are all the natural food stores and food co-ops where you can find not only fresh produce and snacks, but also prepared foods with vegan options. Ask the employees where the best vegan restaurants are because they will have the inside scoop. Farmers’ markets are a haven for fruit, vegetables, snacks, free samples, and other natural products.

Eat Light and Raw
If the only foods you can find are fresh fruits and vegetables, that’s fine! I know many people who survived for long periods of time traveling in Asia just eating from fruit stands. You don’t have to stuff yourself at every meal, so go light and eat only raw foods at some meals.

Share your findings! Don’t forget to help other travelers: update HappyCow, spread the word, write reviews, & upload photos!

Author: HappyCow was created in 1999 as a service to help travelers and people everywhere find vegetarian, vegan, and healthy food choices. Today, our online community is powered by dedicated members from around the world who are passionate about the vegetarian and vegan lifestyle as a healthy, compassionate, and environmentally sustainable way of living. More than a restaurant and health food store guide, our website is a constant work-in-progress toward becoming a “one-stop” resource for everything VEG.