After my family, travel is my greatest love. There is something about finding myself in a new country that helps me, well, find myself. When I travel, I learn about new cultures, see historical sites, and learn how the rest of the world lives. But as much as I love traveling, I have learned that traveling as a vegetarian/vegan sometimes presents unique challenges.
Long flights, meat-centric countries (Hi, Greece!), and unplanned layovers can all cause a vegetarian to panic. Thankfully, a little preparation can help you stay vegetarian and avoid getting sick after ordering the wrong thing.
Follow these tips the next time you plan a vacation to stay meat, dairy, and guilt free.
Learn the Language
Knowing a tiny bit of the language can go a long way. I cannot overstate this. Even just learning the words for “beef,” “meat,” “milk,” “chicken,” etc. can help you order off a new menu in a foreign language. For bonus points, learn the following phrases: “I am a vegetarian/vegan,” “I don’t eat meat/dairy/etc.,” “Please,” and “Thank You.” Please and Thank You are just as important as the dietary explanations. Kindness will go a long way in getting a server on your side and willing to work with you. Plus, it’s just good manners.
Pack Snacks for the Flight
In my experience, the in-flight offerings of international flights depend heavily on the diet of the home country. I have been offered a “vegan” breakfast of yogurt and an egg & cheese sandwich. I have also had awesome breakfasts of granola and soy milk with fruit. It’s best to be prepared. Make sure your carry on contains some snacks. A few protein bars and some dried fruit are good options. If you don’t need them on the plane, you can munch on them during long layovers or on your commute to your hotel once you land.
Ask For A Special Entrée
If you are visiting a particularly fancy restaurant, you can call in advance and ask if they can prepare a special plate for you. I once asked a chef if she could prepare a vegetarian tasting menu for myself and my husband. Not only was she willing to accommodate my dietary restrictions, but she was happy for the creative opportunity. She even came out to meet us when we had dinner to thank us for the chance to come up with new ideas.
If you travel a lot, you will (almost inevitably) end up eating something you shouldn’t have. Maybe the restaurant will fail to mention that the vegetarian soup is cooked in beef broth (true story), or you misread the menu and ordered the smoothie with yogurt or milk. If you are recently vegetarian, this might not be a big deal. If you’ve been vegetarian for a while, you’ll likely spend the rest of the night hugging the toilet. Best to have antacids in your bag, just in case.
Build Your Own Entrée
Read the entire menu and see if you can get creative to put pieces together.If a restaurant offers a big salad, they can probably saute those same vegetables in a pasta to make a more filling dinner. If the chicken entrée comes with mashed potatoes, and the steak comes with broccoli and cauliflower, you can probably order a side of mashed potatoes and mixed vegetables. Mix and match and get creative.
Don’t let your dietary choices limit your options. With a little planning, you can stamp every page in your passport.Don't let your dietary choices limit your options. With a little planning, you can stamp every page in your passport. Click To Tweet