2017 has been a year of transitions for me, one of which was switching to a whole food plant-based diet. I had been gluten-free for more than 5 years, but now also avoiding animal protein added a whole new layer of complexity to my travel and expat stays:
When gluten intolerant, you can’t just go and buy any sandwich when you’re hungry as bread (and burgers & pizza) usually contain gluten. Unfortunately, gluten-free options always have either cheese, eggs or meat in them. The transition to a gluten-free, whole food plant-based diet has been tricky, but it is definitely possible to maintain while travelling and exploring new countries. Here are 9 helpful tips that will make it so much easier:
Chose accommodation with kitchen facilities
Airbnb, hostels, networks like vegvisits.com, couch surfing or help exchange have made this so much easier for all kinds of budgets. I usually buy the basics at the local supermarket – like almond milk, nuts, gluten-free pasta, brown rice and superfood veggies to cook, with lemon & ginger for flavour. This is also a great idea when staying with friends or family as it will make everyone‘s life easier!
Have emergency recipes
that can be cooked with just the water kettle in your hotel room, for example (corn) couscous, soup or rice noodles. Some people carry a small cutting board and knife when travelling to add fresh veg – I just use my travel cutlery & tupper lid 😉
local natural food stores online in advance, or use handy apps like HappyCow or VegGuide on the go, to find vegan or vegetarian places to eat out. They offer reviews, ratings and information on the budget. I prefer Asian restaurants, and Indian food in particular usually has vegetarian or vegan options. Middle Eastern, Mexican and Mediterranean food are also good options. If there are no veggie dishes on the menu, ask the waiter for a vegetarian recommendation or the meat/dairy free version of a dish you saw. If this is not an option, why not order several starters? Find out if there’s a national dish that happens to be vegan. Farmers markets are great for fresh veg and fruit.
Google plant-based or vegan travel blog posts
about your destination to find the best places and recommendations, or ask the locals. Check social media for #vegantravel for inspiration or hashtags like #veganparis or #veganbarcelona to find great places.
Join local vegan Meetup groups
for company or to ask for good places to go to. Local couch surfing groups may also be a great alternative. Ask in meetup groups or Couchsurfing groups for recommendations in advance.
Carry emergency snacks
like dried fruits and nuts. Snack small amounts throughout the day while traveling and you won’t always need full meals later. Don‘t rely on airline snacks. On overnight trips, I usually take a stash of gluten-free oats in my bag (there is always hot water somewhere). Consider non-dairy creamer for longer travels to add to coffee or even nutritional yeast flakes or B12 as travel essentials. Some people like to take dried greens powder such as chlorella, wheatgrass powder or a blend of greens to mix into water or juice – if there’s no access to fresh produce etc. Chia or hemp seeds and dried mango or goji berries are highly nutritious and easy to mix into any food.
Use Google translate or learn local translations
to be able to read food labels, like: lactose, egg, gluten, milk, and how to say “no meat”, “no fish”, “no dairy”, etc. In many places people might not understand vegan… where the Vegan passport might come in helpful.
Take a tupper and food freezer bags
to be able to carry prepped food during the day: I often prepare my own nut & dried fruit mixes, and sometimes take pasta leftovers or corn based sandwich wraps to snack.
Allow yourself to indulge a little
while travelling – in some countries, it can be super hard to stick to a strictly plant-based diet, even in Europe.
Why I choose to eat whole food plant-based food?
Since I changed my diet I get asked this a lot. Without wanting to dive into how Netflix changed my life in 2017, I’ll just list these 5 easy to watch documentaries, that gave me enough brain food to read into research material on nutrition, and of course the China Study.
I feel so much more energetic by avoiding animal protein! Go watch them before the meat industry pressurises Netflix to take them down:
What travel tips would you recommend ?