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HappyCow 101: How to Eat Veg While Traveling

So you’ve decided you want to take a trip. You have the time off and you are dreaming of the beach or a historic city. If you are vegan most likely your vacation is going to revolve around food because you are a foodie or you would like to not starve while on holiday.ย Traveling and eating vegan is not an easy feat. But with a little planning and the use of the HappyCow website and Smartphone application you can get fed anywhere across the world.

Since I’ve done more traveling to more countries in the last few years that I have in my whole life, I’ve become quite the expert on eating healthy while on the move. I will be honest, it takes a lot of time, research, and motivation, in foreign countries especially, but it’s all worth it when you show up to that one place that has a delicious meal you can enjoy. Here’s a bit of my process.

Planning a Destination
When I travel I first look on HappyCow to see which cities in the country I am visiting have the most vegan options. Yes I like to go off the beaten path as well, but I leave those places for day trips where I can pack a lunch. Also look at travel blogs of vegans to see what places they visited that were veg-friendly.

Planning Accommodations

  • When planning your accommodations, look for areas that have vegan or veg-friendly restaurants within walking distance or a short trip on public transportation. Usually these are the “hot” spots or backpacker areas. Most likely there are hostels in these areas. Personally I like to stay a bit further from the backpacker areas, but being close to places I can eat is really at the top of my list when choosing a place to lay my head. You aren’t going to be hanging in your room anyways!
  • Look for accommodations that have mini fridges and microwaves or that let patrons use a communal fridge and kitchen. Consider doing a farm stay. The photo above is of my own private kitchen on a farm I volunteered at in Japan. That way you can buy food from the grocery store and make your own meals. You don’t have to eat out every meal and it saves you money if you don’t. Every town, no matter how small, will likely have fresh produce, canned beans, and grains so you can whip up a simple hotel meal for yourself or microwave oatmeal.

android2016Utilize Your Smartphone

When I went to Asia for three months last year I put my cell phone on hold, but took it with me to use it for wifi. Almost everywhere I went, save for Japan and tiny cities, had wifi all over town. Make sure you have Google Maps and the HappyCow applications on your phone. Make sure you know what international chains (like McDonald’s, Starbucks, CoffeeWorld, etc.) have free wifi in case you get lost.

At least 2 hours prior to lunch or dinner I would get on HappyCow to research where I was going to eat. There are 3 different ways you can find restaurants on the site: (1) Browse by area, (2) use the Distance (radius) search, or (3) Search from top header of any page using Google.ย  It’s good to call ahead, especially if there are no recent reviews. Always have a back up place in case that one is closed or something else happens. If you are without a car and using public transportation give yourself at least an hour to get to your destination. When I was in Bangkok, Thailand it was literally a 3 hour sojourn to eat lunch across town.

Ethnic Food is Your Friend
If you can find an ethnic restaurant like Indian, Thai, Chinese, Moroccan, Mediterranean, Italian, Japanese, or Mexican you will more likely be able to get a vegan meal. Invest in the Vegan Passport guide that has a page for every language saying what vegans eat and don’t eat.

Find a Natural Food Store or Farmer’s Market
Listed on the HappyCow site are all the natural food stores and food co-ops where you can find not only fresh produce and snacks, many of them have a prepared food section with plenty of vegan options. Ask the employees where the best vegan restaurant options are because they will have the inside scoop. Farmer’s markets are also listed which are a haven for fruit, vegetables, snacks, free samples, and other natural products.

Eat Light and Raw If all you can find to eat is fruit or fresh vegetables than that’s fine! I know many people who survived for long periods of time traveling in Asia just eating from fruit stands. You don’t have to stuff yourself silly at every meal, so go light and eat only raw foods at some meals. It saves money and frustration of having to find somewhere to eat.

Share your findings Don’t forget to help other travelers and remember to update HappyCow, spread the word, write reviews, & upload photos !

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  • Reply
    Chia (324 comments)
    May 18, 2011 at 8:50 pm

    Good article. Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply
    Heidi B. (1 comments)
    May 28, 2011 at 12:26 am

    I find that the best way to stay vegan/vegetarian is to stay in self-catering accommodations as much as possible and also use Happy Cow to plan ahead for vegetarian/vegan restaurants or vegetarian/vegan friendly restaurants. I find that ethnic restaurants such as Lebanese, Turkish, Italian,or Indian work well as they usually offer suitable options. For short stays, such as one or two nights, I find that staying in a hostal or hotel works as you can still buy your own supplies for breakfast and lunch and then go out for a vegan/vegetarian supper.
    Another idea is to purchase a lightweight travel blender and to bring it along with you.

    Happy travel planning!

  • Reply
    raw fod diet food (1 comments)
    June 7, 2011 at 6:55 am

    The easiest way for me to stay on my raw diet or vegan type of diet, is to stay away from all of the bad foods out there. I can get around them and be okay, but I rather not put the temptation there. Great post!

  • Reply
    The Blissful Chef (17 comments)
    June 8, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    Chia, Thanks!!
    Heidi, Yep, staying in hostels or places with self-catered kitchens is best!
    Raw, Good suggestion! It’s really had not to be tempted though when we are on vacation ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Reply
    David Jones (1 comments)
    June 9, 2011 at 8:48 am

    When travelling i tend to always have a few “energency” sausages with me which dont need cooling and which are sealed in plastic so they can stay in my bag for days .
    I nice “main course” before getting down to the “dessert” of fruit from a stall.

    This one i like (it has pumpkin seeds and all my non-veggie friends love it!!!)

  • Reply
    Chia (324 comments)
    June 23, 2011 at 12:52 am

    Thank goodness for fresh fruit, fresh veggies, and farmers markets everywhere.

  • Reply
    robinhood (18 comments)
    March 12, 2012 at 9:50 am

    Being healthier on a vegetarian diet means spending less on health care. Food costs. Vegetarian foods tend to cost less than meat based item.Be vegetarian live more.Have a look of vegan making receipe dvd

  • Reply
    amit (1 comments)
    February 26, 2013 at 2:31 am

    I would love to research and write a book on the topic. If you want to support the project, see: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/amitgoyal/book-on-vegetarian-choices-for-eating-out-in-the-u

  • Reply
    vegan_jeeper (1 comments)
    March 28, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    I cannot say THANK YOU enough to Happy Cow’s app. I travel for work often (Beijing, Singapore, Dublin, London, Paris, and all points between) and the app has led me to some offbeat fun places I would have never seen, or food I would have never tried. I have met some great people on my little vegan journeys.

    Even today I used it in Seattle (even though my Whole Foods lunch was a total vegan fail).

    Thank you Happy Cow!!!!

  • Reply
    RowannaWatson (1 comments)
    June 8, 2016 at 1:28 am

    I love this – I am wrote an ebook on the subject and am currently working on a collaboration with some awesome people – I think happy cow rocks! If you want one on one help with this or anything else vegan come along to my site and drop me an email or find me on social media, happiness <3 http://veganhealth.coach/

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