I won’t lie, it can be pretty difficult to maintain a plant based diet when on vacation. The temptations are real, and sometimes there just aren’t enough options around to accommodate your eating habits.
We were actually vegan for an entire year. Then, we went to Italy and said, of course, we are going to eat cheese! After that, we kind of fell off the bandwagon and never got back into it again.
However, we did go on a few vacations and managed to maintain our vegan lifestyle- at least mostly! It wasn’t always easy, but it did actually make eating and finding restaurants a little more fun and adventurous!
I remember we went to Nashville, and we were nervous that we would miss out on eating their famous biscuits and fried chicken. We managed to find this little plant based restaurant and oh my gosh. I would still go back there, even though I’m not vegan anymore!
Nowadays, many restaurants and cities accommodate and even promote plant based lifestyles, so you are in luck! Even if they don’t, we’ve got some tricks up our sleeve just for you!
Most importantly, though, just do your best! Vacations should be about enjoying yourself and letting loose, so don’t hold back on having fun just because you are worried about messing up your diet for a few days!
Also, make sure you get some Lactaid pills if you haven’t been eating dairy because… well.. you know… 🙂
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Do Your Research
The best and easiest way you can maintain your plant based diet when on vacation is to do your research beforehand. If not, you will end up running around the city desperately trying to find a restaurant that accommodates your diet needs!
Instead, when making your travel itinerary, make researching restaurants a priority! This can be as simple as Googling “Vegan restaurants in ___”. I guarantee at least one or two places will come up!
Even if restaurants aren’t specifically vegan, most restaurants have menu options! See if you can find anything on their website that fits your needs.
One way to do this is by using HappyCow. This website lets you search for vegan or vegetarian restaurants all over the world! This is a great resource if you get stuck trying to figure out where to eat! We used to use this website a lot, and have had great success using it!
You can also use Instagram to help you find options. Simply search hashtags like #veganparis or #vegetarianparis, which your destination name. You might find some hidden gems, especially from the locals!
Pack your own Snacks
Any serious vegan knows the importance of always having your own snacks on hand. Especially if you are trying to keep your plant based diet when on vacation, having snacks will be a lifesaver!
When packing your vacation day bag, fill it up with snacks that align with your dietary needs! For example, fresh fruit, nuts, trail mix, veggies, dark chocolate, etc. You most likely already know your favorite vegan snacks!
This way, if you get hungry during a day of sightseeing, you won’t have to scramble to find a vegan snack- which can be difficult, especially with all the ice cream stands around!
Another idea is to pack vegan protein powder. This is a great way to fill up during the day or as a meal replacement. Simply sprinkle it in your water bottle, give it a good shake, and you’ve got some calories and energy to get you through the next few hours!
Explore the Local Farmer's Market
What better way to explore your new location and meet your veggie needs than to take a visit to the local farmer’s market? Farmer’s markets are one of those things that most people like. something about all the fresh fruits and veggies (all for cheap!) makes everyone feel happy and healthy!
If you didn’t bring any fresh fruits or veggies with you (let’s face it, they would probably have spoiled during your travels anyway), stock up on some for your trip here!
Pick up some fresh apples, grapes, green beans, or whatever you fancy! If you are planning to cook your own meals, this is a great time to get some fresh, local ingredients!
Book a Hotel with a Kitchen
Another option to maintain your plant based diet while on vacation is to book a hotel with a kitchen. Even if you don’t cook every meal here, it can be a fun and unique way to spend your travels!
Get some fresh and local ingredients from the farmer’s market or the local grocery store, and see if you can cook something traditional! It could be fun to try to replicate traditional meals of your local culture, but vegan style!
You can even cook up your meal and take it to the local park and have a picnic! If you are anxious about sticking to your diet, having a kitchen will ease some of your stress, knowing if all else fails, you can just make your own meals!
If you can’t get a room with a full kitchen, at least make sure you have a microwave. Microwaved meals can be a saving grace for us vegans! There are tons of options- cook up some oatmeal for breakfast or tofu scramble, or heat up some frozen meals you picked up from the grocery store.
Eat Before going to Dinner
Another way to stick to your plant based diet when on vacation is to eat before you eat. Huh?
Hear me out. Sometimes the only truly vegan option you can find at a restaurant is a salad. However, no one wants to eat just a salad every day, especially when on vacation. Plus, they aren’t all that filling!
If your family is dying to go to a certain restaurant that doesn’t accommodate your needs, make sure you eat ahead of time. Cook up one of your meals in your hotel kitchen or microwave before you go.
Then, at the restaurant you can get a small salad or other side dish that accommodates with your dietary needs. This way, you can still enjoy a dinner out with your loved ones, while sticking to your plant based diet!
Ask for What you Need!
If there’s one thing you need to know about being vegan and eating at non-vegan restaurants, is you need to ask for what you want! No one knows that you are vegan, and won’t automatically assume you don’t want butter on your rice.
Learn to tell your waiter ahead of time about your dietary restrictions. Chances are they will be completely accommodating!
If you are on vacation somewhere they speak a different language, learn phrases in their language you might need to know like, “no eggs” or “no dairy”. At the very least, you tried!
Do your Best!
The last tip I have for maintaining a plant based diet when on vacation is to just simply try your best! Vacations around relaxing and enjoying new adventures. Don’t squander it by stressing about your diet the entire time!
If you really want that cone of gelato, just get it! One snack here and there during your vacation isn’t going to kill you (unless of course, you have actual allergies!). Don’t miss out on experiences because you are restricting yourself!
Chances are, at some point in your travels you will eat (accidentally or not) something that doesn’t align with your plant based lifestyle. This can feel really uneasy, especially if you have been strict with yourself for months or years!
However, do your best to not let it get to you. Once you get home, you can get back on track! Just enjoy yourself for now!
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