Why Travel is Better When You're Vegan
Wendy Werneth is a keen traveller and she's vegan! You'd think she'd change her lifestyle choice when she's travelling to ensure that her holidays are better, less restricted and more indulgent, but guess what? She continues living vegan while she's away! On the contrary to what many people will assume; she finds it a richer, happier experience!
I absolutely love Wendy's attitude and the energy that comes through this article.
I would love to hear your thoughts after you have read the article. Do you think you would be up for staying vegan whilst on holiday?
Does vegan travel sound terrifying to you?
I bet you can imagine a million things going wrong:
- there will be nothing on the menu that you can eat,
- the restaurant staff will have no idea what veganism is,
- you won't be able to communicate your needs,
- you will end up living on French fries and dressing-less lettuce and tomato salad for the duration of your trip
Well, it doesn't have to be this way! On the contrary, travelling actually becomes MORE fun and fulfilling when you become vegan.
Vegan Travel Sounds Scary
The thought of vegan travel can seem pretty daunting. In fact, to people who have not yet experienced the joy of a vegan lifestyle, veganism itself sounds pretty scary. This is largely because vegans are usually defined by what they don't eat i.e. no meat, no fish, no seafood, no eggs, no dairy products, etc.
Combine this with the uncertainty of finding food in an unfamiliar location where you may not share a common language with the locals, and suddenly vegan travel begins to sound like a masochistic exercise in self-deprivation.
Even dedicated vegans who joyfully embrace their lifestyle at home may get tripped up by fear of the unknown and decide that it would be safer to just stay home and cook for themselves, or to only travel to places where they can eat every meal in a vegan or vegetarian restaurant.
It's all about Perception
This self-defeating attitude is caused by fear, which is what keeps many people from enjoying a vegan lifestyle in general and vegan travel in particular. It's also based on a false belief that being vegan is all about imposing limits on ourselves.
In order to thrive as vegans, we need to flip this belief on its head. Veganism is NOT about giving anything up; it's about everything we gain by choosing not to take what was never ours to begin with. And let me tell you, we gain a whole heck of a lot.
By making daily food choices that do not cause unnecessary harm and suffering (to animals, to the environment or to our own health), we are able to live in a way that is consistent with our own values. Most of us would say that we value peace, non-violence, kindness and compassion, and by choosing vegan foods we actually manifest these beliefs every time we eat a meal. How awesome is that?
Veganism liberates us from the harmful and irrational beliefs that society has ingrained in us and allows us to be the best version of ourselves. It allows us to be who we truly are.
See every meal as a new adventure
When viewed through this lens, every opportunity to choose a vegan meal becomes a joy and a privilege. This is even more the case when travelling, as we have the added honour of being ambassadors of this joyous lifestyle everywhere we go.
What if veganism is virtually unheard of in the country you're planning to visit? That's excellent! That means that with every meal you order you'll have the chance to introduce someone else to this wondrous, non-violent way of being in the world. But that's not all! Being vegan gives you a great reason to connect with other vegans living in your destination. And nowadays, with new mobile apps, social networks and home sharing sites popping up all the time, this is incredibly easy to do. There's no better way to really get to know a travel destination than by getting insider secrets from locals, and you'll find plenty of fellow vegans who will be thrilled to share their best travel tips with you. They may even offer to share a delicious home-cooked meal, or a room in their home!
Travel is all about exploring the unknown and making new discoveries.
It forces us to step out of our comfort zone and try new things, and that is how we grow and become better people.
As a vegan traveller, you will discover the local cuisine in a way that most tourists never do. The majority of foreign visitors to Greece, for example, will stick to the familiar-sounding foods like moussaka, feta cheese and gyros. So how jealous will your friends be when you come back from your holiday raving about all the delicious imam baildi, briam and aginares a la polita you ate in the Greek isles? And by the way, you can find descriptions of these and other Greek vegan dishes in my guide to vegan travel in Greece.
The photos below were taken in Santorini.
Make a plan
Even Indiana Jones didn't set out on an adventure without a plan, and neither should you. Remember that fear and anxiety we talked about? It's time to put it to good use.
To quote Winston Churchill:
"Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planning".
First of all, you'll want to do a bit of research on the local cuisine, looking for dishes that are already naturally vegan or can be easily veganized. It's also a good idea to learn a few words in the local language, or at least bring a phrasebook or mobile app that will help you to communicate. The Eat Away app, for example, is a customizable diet translator that has phrases specific to a vegan diet in five different languages. In addition to the standard words such as "meat" "milk" or "eggs", it's also wise to learn the names of non-vegan ingredients that are frequently added to dishes in the local cuisine, such as fish sauce in Southeast Asia or sour cream in Russia. Next, get in touch with vegans living in the area, and ask them for advice about where to eat and what to order. At the very least you'll get some good travel tips, and you just might make some lifelong friends!
You'll find that, with just a little advance planning, you can eat healthfully and deliciously just about anywhere. In addition to discovering the local culture, architecture, wildlife etc, you'll also be on the lookout for great vegan finds as you explore new places.
Far from being an annoyance, this can actually add a new, fun dimension to your travels, turning a hot and dusty walk to the bus station into an enthralling treasure hunt. Just be prepared to find more vegan goodies than you could ever hope to eat by yourself!
Before becoming vegan I generally lost weight while travelling. Now I find the opposite is true, because I feel compelled to try all the great vegan foods I discover, and there are just so many of them!
For more tips on vegan travel planning, including links to plenty more resources, take a look at my 8 Steps for Fun and Easy Vegan Travel. Have you ever travelled to a new region or country as a vegan? Share your experience in the comments below!
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
― Lao Tzu