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As a frequent traveller who’s vegetarian – I know the struggle to find restaurants that serve vegetarian food. I have been there – finding a perfect restaurant only to realize they don’t serve any vegetarian food. You won’t have those problems anymore because I have the essential tips for vegan or vegetarian travellers!
I am not talking about the more obvious tips. Do your research before travelling to a new destination to know the situation around vegetarian food. You might travel to a location where it’s still very rare to not eat meat. That’s something you want to know beforehand. Most countries in Europe are vegetarian friendly countries, but countries like India, Thailand, Vietnam and Taiwan are also great options for travelling as a vegetarian.
You might have some question marks about your head: “I thought every restaurant serves vegetarian food.” Life has becoming a lot easier for vegetarians and even for vegans because more restaurants and places are implementing veggie and vegan food. However, depending on where you travel, there are definitely times when it is hard to find a veggie meal.
5 Essential tips for vegan or vegetarian travellers!
I always learn the most common phrases and words like “good morning”, “how are you”, “where can I find *insert place*”. “excuse me”, “have a good day/evening/night” and “good bye”, “thank you” and “here you go” to be able and speak some words of the local language. But do you speak vegetarian?
The key phrases to learn are: “I don’t eat meat”, “can I order this without meat?” and “do you have any vegetarian meals?”. Even more, you need to know how to specify every single thing you don’t eat. Some countries think you don’t eat red meat when you say you’re vegetarian. Just be very clear and say you don’t want to eat any meat. Make sure to know how to say you don’t eat fish, chicken, meat, beef, seafood etcetera. The easiest way is to write a sentence in your phone that specifies every single thing you don’t want to eat. Show it and it should be fine.
Even if you don’t speak the language and words perfectly, it will be so much clearer for the waiter to understand what you want. Trust me, most restaurants are willing to create some sort of other dish for you or to just leave the meat out of one of the regular meals.
So, learn to say you’re vegetarian and that you’d like to have a meatless meal in the local language of the destination you’re going to visit!
Read more: 9 common travel mistakes to avoid making.
Download an app
In these days where technology is absolutely thriving, an app to find veggie and vegan places has already been developed. I have two apps that would be perfect to use while travelling.
One of my favorite travel bloggers mentioned this app on their Instagram story and I immediately saved it to my favorites. The app Happy Cow is great because it recommends the best veggie and vegan places AND regular restaurants that have great vegetarian dishes. It gives you a lot of options and that’s just perfect. You do have to pay for this app, but it would be an amazing stress reliever on your next trip.
Another app I found is Foursquare. I love this one because beside showing good restaurants in the search results, it also gives the recommendation from other travellers. The app flags a restaurant as vegan or veggie and other travellers give recommendations for other restaurants and tips about the best meal the order.
Sometimes the best way to find out if a restaurant is ordering vegan or veggie food, is looking at their own website. If the website does not have an English version, simply use Google Translate. I love looking on Google Maps for restaurants in the area and then look at their website. It takes a bit more time and I do prefer one of the two apps above, but it is a nice option if you don’t want to spent money on apps. Google Translate is perfect to translate the menu too by the way.
This might be a no brainer but don’t be fussy when it comes to vegetarian meals. Not all countries create an entire new meal to please you. Simply because it might not be possible to do it or when they are not used to it. A restaurant could go the extra mile but might just decide to skip the meat in the meal or give you a more simplified meal. It helps a lot if you lower your standards to food. Be sure to like most veggies because they usually stuff a veggie with other veggies!
Whenever I think of a restaurant that went the extra mile, it’s a restaurant in Funchal on Madeira. They had a new vegetarian meal everyday and even created something new for me when I came back. It was the best meal I’ve ever had!
Read more: the 35 best travel apps for Android and iOs.
Pack extra vitamins
As a vegetarian or as a vegan, we need to take supplements to keep our nutrients like B12 on track and to stay healthy. We don’t have as much control over our meals as we have at home. I know which veggies have more B12 and iron in it so I eat more of those compared to meat eaters. However, we don’t always have the luxury to choose veggies like these. I definitely recommend packing vitamins and supplements like B12 or even a vitamin mix with all the essential vitamins. For me, I always take Vitamin D and extra Calcium too so I’d be sure to have a mix that has those four vitamins.
The easiest way to bring them with you is by packing them in a little ziploc and keep them in your bag. I usually love the supplements because it’s easier to take them with a sip of water. I am sure most destinations sell these vitamins too but the language barrier could make it really hard to find the right vitamin and right dosage.
Bring your own snacks
I always have snacks with me, wherever I go. Mostly because I have a low blood pressure and I can faint pretty quickly if I get hungry. Another reason to take snacks with me is because it’s not always possible to find something quick to eat that’s veggie or vegan. I hate feeling hungry, feeling faint and weak and not being able to eat. I always have an eatable sugar substitute in my bag that gives my body a boost to hold on for a little longer!
I love fresh fruit like a banana or apple, they’re easy to bring in your bag. Dried fruit like dried mango is amazing to take with you as well just as different nuts like pistachio and walnuts! Bring them in a small bag and you’re good to go. No more stressing if you feel hungry!
Travelling as a vegetarian or vegan can feel hard, but these tips should make it a lot easier for you. Try to shift your mindset a little if it feels really hard. There’s always an option. Don’t stress too much and be nice to the restaurant owners and waiters. You’ll accomplish so much more if you stay kind, they will be willing to help you in finding a good meal. Be a little patient because it might not be as normal for them as it feels for us. And who knows, you might get the best EVER vegetarian meal like I had in Madeira!
What are some of your tips for veggie and vegan travellers?