Life on the road isn’t always easy, add special dietary requirements into the equation and you’ve got a pretty tough gig. Here digital nomads and health food fanciers Sam and Zab from Indefinite Adventure talk about how to survive travelling as a vegan or a vegetarian…
Sometimes, finding places to eat vegetarian or vegan on your travels can be hard. Like really hard. In many places, the concept is still not really well understood, and finding restaurants or cafes that offer something you can and want to eat, let alone cater specifically to a vegetarian or vegan diet can be quite a task. Here are my top four tips on how to survive as a vegetarian or vegan on your travels when you’re not able to cook for yourself.
1. Use Foursquare
Foursquare is my new favourite social media app. Originally created as a kind of Twitter for travellers, giving you the ability to ‘check in’ to places you visit or pass through to let your friends know where you are (and earn points in the process), Foursquare has become one of the most valuable social media apps I currently use on my travels. Users can leave tips, photos, comments and suggestions at places they’ve checked in for other users to see, and this can be particularly helpful for finding good vegetarian food. If you are in even a smallish city, the chances are there will be somewhere that serves vegetarian food listed on Foursquare, which you can then save to your to-do list (meaning it will appear on your map, so you can find it easily), probably with pictures and comments so you have an idea what you’re in for.
2. Look for juice bars and Chinese restaurants
If there’s nothing vegetarian listed on Foursquare in the town where you find yourself, hit the streets and look out for the local juice bar. Assuming you’re not in Patagonia, there will likely be one, and they may also serve food, likely made from the same fruits and vegetables they use for their juices. If you find yourself in Peru or Ecuador and the options for eating are pretty slim, there is still a definite chance of finding a Chinese restaurant, and that will almost certainly have at least one vegetarian (and probably vegan, assuming it doesn’t contain egg) option.
3. Try the soups, salads and sides
Say you find yourself in rural Chile with not a juice bar or Chinese place insight, but instead at a nice fish restaurant overlooking the Pacific, what to do? Check the menu for soups, salads and side dishes and see if you can make a meal out of a combination of those. You might get funny looks for not ordering the fish, but who cares? Just have some wine instead.
4. Just ask
Failing all of the above options, the only thing left to do is the most dreaded option remaining: ask someone. Maybe the local baker knows someone who owns a restaurant in town and would be willing to indulge your weird dietary requirements. Maybe if you show just the right amount of leg to the waitress, you can persuade her to twist the chef’s arm into not putting any ham on that pizza. And maybe, if you’re really nice and use lots of flattery, the hotel owner of the place you’re staying will even let you use their kitchen that is not normally for guests.
All words and photos (except the top) by Sam. Sam is a sometimes-EFL teacher, wannabe-minimalist, language geek who is trying to make it as a digital nomad with his partner, Zab. You can follow them on their blog Indefinite Adventure where they chronicle their journey, write about the places they visit, the food they eat (preferably vegan, organic and locally produced) and the people they meet.