Is travelling as a vegan easy? A surprisingly high number of people have asked me this since I committed to a completely plant-based diet about a month ago. But let’s be honest, a month isn’t long enough to work out a decent answer to such a complicated question! And I often wonder myself whether travelling as a vegan is easy. Obviously in some places more than others but can explaining what veganism is with a language barrier become complicated? Or can being vegan aboard be limiting? I thought I’d do some research in an attempt to solve my questions and better prepare myself and you guys for future travels!
So, I have contacted 5 long time vegans, asking them to discuss their experiences travelling and share any advice they have for new vegans. Not only did I want to know ‘is travelling as a vegan easy?’ but which countries are best suited to vegan travel and their advice on the subject.
IS TRAVELLING AS A VEGAN EASY?
Josefa – I’d say it’s not as difficult as it used to be but it’s still not the easiest thing. It depends on the country. For example, Germany is quite good in the bigger cities but the second you find yourself in the countryside everyone loves putting butter or cream on EVERYTHING!!
Paul from Vegan Food Quest – We’ve been travelling in Southeast Asia for more than 20 years and have lived here for nearly 5. When someone asks “is vegan travel easy?” we think back to our early trips when armed with nothing more than a Lonely Planet we hunted high and low for vegan food. Now with multiple blogs and websites dedicated to vegan travel, it is an absolute breeze if you do your research.
Grace – Travelling as a vegan and your experience of it depends completely on your perspective. Every time I travel, I try not to expect too much. This means I am constantly surprised and my expectations are exceeded. So, I do think travelling as a vegan is easy, as long as you’re not excepting every shop, cafe or place to be vegan friendly. You can always have an emergency fruit/nut bar at hand but in my experience, I rarely need one. Ethical travel is definitely a concept I find more challenging. It’s obviously an issue that flying has such a significant impact on emissions but I feel torn due to my love of travelling. What I try to do is be as ethical as possible in my decisions while travelling.
WHAT COUNTRIES HAVE YOU FOUND BEST FOR VEGAN EATING?
Josefa – I really like Berlin and London (and my home town, Erfurt but nobody wants to go there so I’d say that it’s irrelevant) concerning restaurants and other places to eat. To find vegan bakeries is nearly impossible abroad. But London has some quite nice ones and Berlin too, even in France you can find vegan pastries.
Naomi – Well I would say Berlin and Melbourne are no.1. London is pretty good depending on where you are and Barcelona is good too. It has lots of vegan places hidden away.
Paul – One of the reasons we decided to live in Southeast Asia was the abundance of vegan food. Choosing our favourite location would be difficult but our current home town of Siem Reap in Cambodia would be somewhere near the top of the list.
Grace – I’m always surprised by countries that I think won’t be vegan friendly. One thing I’ve realised is that some countries are historically very vegetarian and therefore have options for vegans. Vietnam for example, they have a large Buddhist population so there were lots of vegetarian places with many vegan options to choose from. And it was all delicious!
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR VEGANS WHO LOVE TO TRAVEL?
Connie – Happy Cow is my best recommendation for when travelling abroad as a vegan, I’ve found some amazing places on there.
Josefa – My best advice is to do your research. If you manage to find South Indian cuisine then it’s likely that you’ll have plenty of vegan options. Lebanese and East African food is quite good for vegans too.
Paul – Our advice would be to do your research. Only this week we met a hungry vegan traveller in Cambodia who had been struggling to find vegan food in Thailand also. She did not know about Happy Cow and had not used Google to help in her quest for vegan food. If you do your research, join a few Facebook groups and bookmark your favourite blogs it will be oh so simple.
Grace – My advice is don’t expect everywhere to cater well or even at all for vegans. Then whenever you come across an amazing vegan option somewhere quite random it’s the best thing ever! I also think everywhere is becoming more vegan friendly so don’t worry too much, you will be able to find something to eat.
South East Asia was amazing for vegan food. In Vietnam I ate braised mushrooms which I could have sworn were meat, it blew my mind. There were plenty of solely vegetarian and vegan restaurants all over the country too so I was spoilt for choice. Same goes for Thailand, especially in the northern town of Chaing Mai. It is the most vegan friendly place I have ever been. Reform Kafe was my favourite restaurant there along with their sister restaurant Goodsouls Kitchen. In Bangkok I visited Bonita Café and Social Club so many times!! Again, entirely vegan and delicious.
European cities, generally are great with plenty of entirely vegan restaurants to choose from. London is great for vegans when you know where to go and the majority of restaurants offer at least one vegan option these days. I have written an Ultimate Vegan Guide to London if you are curious and a Top 10 London Vegan Eats for Paul’s blog!
Unfortunately, one of the worst places I have been for vegans is New Zealand. Leave Auckland, Christchurch or Wellington and it gets complicated. Even in supermarkets I struggled. Don’t get me wrong, I love New Zealand (being half kiwi myself!) but their lack of vegan options is always a disappointment. You can get by as a vegan there, it just isn’t very exciting! Hopefully things will have improved by the time I next go.
AMAZING VEGAN TRAVEL RESOURCES
Happy Cow – LIFE SAVER! “HappyCow.net is your one-stop resource for everything VEG. Find vegetarian restaurants and health food stores worldwide. Join HappyCow’s growing community of caring people who are dedicated to promoting a healthy, compassionate, and sustainable lifestyle.” You can also filter your search to entirely vegan or vegan options.
The Vegan Passport – “Travel the world with confidence and enjoy local dishes without compromising your vegan beliefs! With your trusty Vegan Passport, you can be sure of finding vegan food in restaurants around the globe. This multilingual vegan phrasebook is a must-have for globetrotting vegans. Our new app is small enough to be easily downloaded to your phone but big enough to include the languages of over 96% of the world’s population.” I need to order mine ASAP and imagine it’s especially helpful for countries you can’t use mobile data in.
Thankyou to Paul from www.veganfoodquest.com and my lovely vegan friends Naomi, Josefa, Grace and Connie for helping me out with this post!