We have all worried about this: How to travel to a new country and not just eat salad and fries.
I had the same fear before.
I’m going to show you the things I've learned over the years to make traveling as a vegan easy, fun and enjoyable.
If you want your traveling to be as perfect as it can be, you will love this list.
3 Steps of Researching and Planning Your Trip
You probably have experienced this: one day you hear a recommendation of a delicious dessert that you want to try. You then plan to go to the restaurant, only to find out that it is closed.
Trust me, we have all been there. The best thing you can do is to research, plan, and have a back-up.
I know you are probably thinking ‘well, duh, obviously!’
But hear me out.
Here is my process of researching and planning my vegan food trip:
Other than visiting Happy Cow, another great tool to research vegan food in a city is to use Instagram. The trick I love using is to use #vegan(+city name) or #(city name)+vegan. For example, if I’m traveling to Taipei, I’ll search #vegantaipei or #taipeivegan on Instagram. It will show me the vegan food that people are sharing and liking. Save the photos on Instagram by long-pressing the save button and into a separate city folder. That way you'll be able to easily look at all the food that you've saved.
Another Instagram trick is to find the local vegan influencers in the city. They will post the best local food there. To find them, again, use the hashtag trick mentioned earlier and see who are posting the photos. They will be the people that often post photos and reviews of vegan restaurants in that city.
Also, you can check out our vegan city guide section and see if the city you're traveling to is on the list.
Google Map is my go-to planning tool. And here’s how I use it.
Although you will use the map on your phone while traveling, it's much easier to set the map up using a computer.
When you go to Google map, go to ‘Menu’ and click ‘Your Places’ and ‘Maps’. Then, create a new map. It will take you to a new map page where you can add your own locations and extra information.
For the restaurant you want to visit, enter the name into the search bar. It will show you the location. If the location is correct, add it to your map. Also add some extra information like the restaurant link and opening times. You can also change the color of the icon. I usually use green for vegan restaurants, purple for vegetarian ones and red for non-veg restaurants with vegan options.
After adding the restaurants, you can open a new layer to add the sightseeing spots and the place you are staying in as well. Also, be sure to share the map with whoever you are travelling with so you can all see the marked places.
When you have all the locations you want to visit on the map, and they are color-coded, it will be much easier to plan your schedule.
Have a back-up plan
Now that you have researched all the restaurants you want to go to and their opening times, you should have a good idea which one is open at what time.
In case one of the restaurants you are going to is closed unexpectedly, you can check the map and see whether there is another choice close-by. Sometimes checking if there are convenience stores or supermarkets in the area is also a good idea. If none of that exists, keep on reading and there will be other points that can help in this situation.
Learn Useful Words and Phrases in Local Language
If you go to a country where English is not commonly used, it’s good to learn a few words and phrases in their local language. Google translate is your friend.
Knowing what are the words for meat, egg, milk, gelatin, etc is useful.
Also, in those countries, it’s safer to stick with vegan or vegetarian restaurants, or restaurants that have a clear vegan menu. A language barrier could mean that staff doesn’t understand your request, and you get served something that’s not vegan.
Vegan Cards has vegan related sentences in different languages. Present it to the restaurant in case you want to clarify the ingredients that you don’t want. But be sure that the restaurant is willing to accommodate. Sometimes if the restaurant doesn’t even have vegetarian options, they may not be able to provide you with a vegan meal.
Also, you probably want to go to the local supermarket to hunt for some vegan snacks. Reading the ingredient list can be difficult when English is not used on the label. The list of words you prepared earlier will come in handy. Google Translate is your friend.
If you happen to go to Japan, feel free to check out this free guide to reading Japanese food labels.
Find Vegan Version of Local Food
When people travel to a foreign country, it’s normal to try the local food. You may have thought that is not a privilege that vegans can have.
But it’s so not true nowadays.
Lots of local delicacies are veganised by the local restaurants. Authentic ramen in Japan, egg waffle in Hong Kong or bibimbap in Korea. You name it!
Here are some of the examples of the local vegan food that you can have in Asian countries:
Bring Emergency Vegan Snacks
Sometimes, no matter how well research that place, unexpected things will happen and there’s not much you can do about it.
Here is when your emergency snack bag comes in handy.
And who can say no to extra vegan snacks anyway?
When I take vegan snacks on my trip, there are a few criteria:
- Should be calorie dense so you will feel full for a while
- Stay in good condition in room temperature
- Don’t get crushed easily
Some simple snacks like granola bars and mixed nuts are my favorites as they can easily fit in your bag and will satisfy your hunger quickly before you head to your next destination.
Don’t forget to bring some snacks on your flight as well. We all have heard the stories where they mixed up the meals and that person ended up with no food for a 10-hour flight.
Just head to your local grocery store a few days before your trip to stock up on some vegan snacks.
BYOB, BYOC, etc
For many, a big part of being a vegan is becoming more environmentally friendly.
Think about bringing a foldable shopping bag, a reusable take-out cup and some simple cutlery set are with you on your next trip. You can avoid so much plastic with just these 3 things.
When you go to supermarkets, a simple ‘no bag’ is understood by many staff even if their English is not the best.
Another thing that I love to bring is some clips for bags. You are going to find vegan snacks that you can’t resist in the supermarket or grocery stores. After you try a few pieces, you may want to put it away until you are back at the hotel. Those food clips will be super useful and avoid the snack spilling in your bag.
Plan Ahead For Vegan Markets or Festivals
Just like veganism in general, vegan market is slowly gaining popularity in many countries. It’s especially great for trying lots of vegan food and drinks in one place. However, it may not happen very often, especially in Asian countries. Plan ahead if you want to visit one.
Example of vegan markets in Asia:
Japan Vegan Gourmet Festival in Tokyo, Nagoya and Kyoto
Taiwan Vegan Frenzy in Taipei, Tanchung, Kaohsiung
Vegan Festival Korea in Seoul
Farmers market is another great way to get vegan food. It’s a great way to buy fresh high quality produce, and a direct way to support local farmers. So don’t hesitate to go to one if you have the chance.
Choose Vegan-Friendly Destinations
Although there are still many places where people are not familiar with veganism, some cities are embracing the vegan movement and have an abundance of vegan food.
Many cities nowadays are becoming more and more vegan-friendly. In Asia, cities like Taipei, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore, Chiang Mai, etc are vegan friendly cities, and it won’t be difficult to find vegan food.
Download Useful Apps
Happy Cow (download here)
Pack Your Vegan Toiletries
Most of toiletries and personal care items in the market are not vegan or cruelty-free. It’s a good idea to bring your own.
A few things to keep in mind is that if you want to bring them on the plane, make sure the container is less than 100ml. And all containers must fit into a clear plastic bag no bigger than 20cm x 20cm.
Stay in a Place with Kitchen
Some hotels and airbnb places have a kitchen that you can cook a simple vegan meal. Not only will it save money, it will give you a chance to try the local produce and hunt for vegan ingredients in supermarkets.
One extra tip is to bring a mix of your favourite spices to season the dishes. And a bigger bag of nooch cause everything tastes better with nooch!