I travel a lot for work and Callum’s family is in England so every couple years we do some kind of Europe trip while visiting his family. When I became vegetarian I knew that traveling was going to be a really tough part of it. At home, I can control what I eat and make sure that I am eating some source of protein every day and getting enough vegetables. That becomes really difficult when I’m travelling and what I’m eating is out of my control.
Here is what has worked best for me:
- Stay somewhere with a kitchen. This year, almost everywhere I’m going for work I have booked us into Airbnb apartments so that there’s a kitchen. Part of the experience of visiting somewhere is eating the food that is there but eating it for every meal gets to be unhealthy and expensive really quickly. Beyond the cost, I really don’t feel good I’m only eating restaurants. Ideally, I like eating out for one meal a day while travelling and then making my own food for the rest of the meals. The easiest meal to make is breakfast because you can make something as simple as yogurt, granola and a piece of fruit. All you need for that is a mini fridge!
- Ask for variations to a menu. Sometimes you just have to get a little creative. Does every salad at the restaurant have meat in it? Ask if you can order it without the meat. Kitchens are usually happy to make substitutions especially if they don’t offer any vegetarian options. Quite honestly, one of my favourite places to go for a work dinner is a steakhouse because I can order a couple of sides and usually there are lots of vegetable side dishes.
- Don’t stress about it. If you eat healthily at home, eating out or getting very little protein/vegetables for a couple of days isn’t the end of the world. Traveling is hard on you even before you start stressing about what you’re going to eat. When I was in Spain, I mostly ate bread, cheese and salads for days and at the end of it I was happy to be back to eating normally but no long term damage so far!
- Whole Foods! If you are travelling in the US, go find a Whole Foods. They have a hot food/salad bar that is always full of vegetarian options and it’s relatively inexpensive compared to eating at a restaurant. On my most recent trip to Vegas for work, I ate dinner from the Whole Foods food bar twice, I can’t say enough good things about it. Callum and I have gone to the food bar and then had a picnic as an alternative to paying a lot of money for bad vegetarian food at a restaurant. I also stock up on snacks while I’m there because you have to have snacks.
- Snacks. In general, I love snacks but especially when I’m travelling, I like having something with me so that I don’t resort to buying cookies at Starbucks in desperation (still sometimes happens!). I don’t know if you’ve ever been to a convention centre but it has nothing but unhealthy options so I like having something to eat with me so that I’m not tempted to buy something I wouldn’t usually eat just because I’m so hungry. I almost always carry a larabar and then add a piece of fruit and you have a great snack!
There’s no question that being a meat-eater makes traveling easier, especially in places that don’t speak English. But with these tricks, travelling as a vegetarian is doable and you get to try more interesting things!
What’s your favourite food related travelling tip?