Thriving As a Vegan Traveler

In 2019 my husband and I set sail on two separate vegan river cruises – one in France, and one a week later in Portugal. The food on the French cruise was incredible. It was here I was introduced to chestnut cream for my morning croissant, and my never-ending craving for cake covered in marzipan began. It was the stuff dreams are made of. The cruise on the Douro River in Portugal was wonderful but we had been completely spoiled by the food on the previous one. The port wine was top-notch, of course.

Marzipan Cake!

Leaving the vegan bubble we’d enjoyed for two weeks was hard. For two whole weeks we could enjoy traveling without wondering where we’d find our next vegan meal. As many of you know, traveling as a vegan can be hard but it’s not impossible if you keep a few tips in mind.

  1. Re-think what a meal looks like. If you’re in an airport and none of the restaurants serve anything close to vegan food (I’m looking at you, Newark!) besides french fries, hit up one of the convenience shops. On a recent layover in Newark I was able to rustle up a meal of hummus, olives, and vegan yogurt. 
  1. Don’t disregard the Burger King restaurants in airports. Most serve the Impossible Whopper. We were thrilled to find one in the Madrid airport called the Rebel Whopper. Not super healthy but better than going hungry and actually quite delicious.
Yes, beer at the Madrid airport Burger King!
  1. Always pack a vegan protein bar in your carry-on. This could be what stands between you and your hangry self. This one by Orgain is one of my favorites.
The super cool vegan decal can be purchased here.
  1. Check ahead of time to see if meals will be served on your flight and request a vegan meal, or what some airlines call a “strict vegetarian” meal. This also goes for long distance train travel. Don’t do what I did and have wine for lunch on the EurRail because I didn’t know I could pre-order a vegan meal. Of course, COVID-19 restrictions prevent most airlines from serving meals at all right now but I was pleasantly surprised to be given my favorite Biscoff cookies (love that they’re vegan!), and pretzels on a recent flight.
It doesn’t look great but it was actually quite delicious! Photo credit – Chris Day
  1. Cruise ships have gotten better about accommodating vegans but it doesn’t hurt to talk to the dining director on your first day onboard or let the cruise line know that you have special dietary needs. 

Before my husband and I sailed on Norwegian Cruise Lines in 2015, I reached out to the members of the Cruise Critics message board who would be sailing with us. I let them know I had set up a meet and greet with the dining director to talk about vegan and vegetarian options and encouraged them to come. The cruise director reserved a room for us and we were joined by not only the dining director but the ship’s captain as well. We had about twenty people wanting to talk about vegan or vegetarian meals with the dining director. I wish I could say our needs were met 100% but it did increase awareness about the demand for vegans meals.

  1. Always check HappyCow! There are lots more listings there than just restaurants. And, make sure you help out future travelers by posting a review or adding a business if you find a hidden gem along the way.

7. If you have a refrigerator in your hotel room, check to see if you can order food from Instacart, or Amazon Fresh. You can find lots of other grocery delivery services here.

What tips would you include on this list? Tell me in the comments!

Published by anewdayvegan

Certified Vegan Lifestyle Coach and Educator, graduate of the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, and Rouxbe Culinary School's Professional Plant-Based Cooking, and Forks Over Knives programs.

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