New or experienced, traveling abroad can perhaps feel a bit daunting as a vegan. Explaining your dietary preferences or trying to decipher the list of ingredients printed in a foreign language could prove to be difficult, not to mention the raised eyebrows of people who consider your lifestyle a bit extreme. I thought I’d be facing some conundrums during my travels this summer, but my experiences taught me differently. Here’s my advice on how to make traveling as a vegan a non-issue.
Give a heads up
If you’re staying with friends or family abroad, give them a little heads up that you’re vegan. Let them know that you’re not expecting anything and are fine with – and would love to – pick up your own groceries. Most often, people are fine with “special” requests, as long as they’re given time to plan for them.
Most of your vacation will likely be spent out and about, exploring the area and going on adventures. When we were in Turkey, I made sure to always have some good bars, bananas and other fruit or nuts in my bag, to snack on if I got hungry.
No cheese, please.
At the restaurant, politely ask your waiter if any of their vegetarian dishes can be made without the cheese, milk or cream. Thus far, I’ve never had any issue with this during my travels as a vegan. When there’s been few or no vegetarian options on the menu, I’ve just asked the chef to cook me whatever vegetables he has on hand, and I’ve been happily accommodated every time.
Offer to cook
If you’re staying with family or friends and have access to a kitchen, take the opportunity to join in on the cooking and share your own skills and knowledge. Offer to cook your company your favorite dish. It’s a good way to “break the ice” if they’re particularly skeptic to veganism.
It’s not an issue unless you decide it is
Be easy, accept what is on offer and don’t make a bigger deal of things than is necessary. As with anything, if you seem uncomfortable or awkward, your emotions will cause reverberations on your surroundings and make your company feel bad too. If you’re easy going, polite and happy, everyone else will be too.
I think that one of the most common reasons why people sometimes are uncomfortable around vegans is because there are those who feel the need to lecture anyone and everyone about it. I’m not one of them. Food is a sensitive enough subject as it is, questioning can so easily lead to negative emotions and cause unhealthy restrictions. You’ve chosen a vegan lifestyle, let them chose theirs.
It really is that simple. Positive mind – positive vibes – positive life.