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How to Travel as a Vegan

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According to a Harris interactive study commissioned by the Vegetarian Resource Group, only 5% of Americans are vegetarians, with about half that number vegans and even fewer raw vegans. So, it should come as no surprise that raw vegans are not catered to on the same scale as omnivores. The result: it is more difficult to get one's dietary needs met, especially if one is fully raw, while traveling. However, with judicious planning and a little effort, one can not only meet their dietary needs, but discover new and exciting raw vegan foods along the way.

Before One Leaves

Make a list of the hotels, motels and inns in the area being visited and, before making a reservation, call them with this list of questions at hand: 

  • Do they have units with refrigerators? Is there a kitchenette? 
  • Do they have an in-house restaurant or offer room service? If so, are there any vegan or even vegetarian options? 
  • Would they be willing to accommodate one's need for fresh fruits and raw vegetables? 
  • Are there any vegan or vegetarian restaurants nearby? 

Add to that list any additional questions you consider relevant.

Use Google to discover the restaurant scene in a given area. One is sure to discover more than a few raw vegan websites that post details about well-known raw vegan eateries in popular vacation spots around the country and abroad, but even if one is visiting a quiet and remote spot that is not popular among travelers, it's still possible to find information on vegetarian and vegan eateries that the locals love.

Google is also useful for finding farmer's markets and ordinary grocers and supermarkets in any given area. Even if an area doesn't have a vegan restaurant they will still have fresh fruits and vegetables. Just type “farmer's markets in [pick a city]” and Google will likely show you multiple organizations that list farmer's markets for that city or town. The same thing goes for grocers and restaurants.

By now, it should be obvious that many vegans love talking about the foods that they eat. Take advantage of this fact to stalk the blogs and Youtube channels of fellow raw vegans. Many of them travel for work and play and can point you towards raw vegan eateries, and more, in different parts of the country and world.

If you're traveling by car or bus, you can Google rest stops on certain highways (if you know the route) or simply type “rest stops from [where you are] to [where you're going]” into search. You can call these places before leaving to find out what they offer on their menus and if they are willing to accommodate raw vegans. You can also use the other tips I listed in the article 'How to Eat Out Raw' for rest stops, restaurants and diners, as well.

Along the Way

Preparing snacks for a long journey is always a good idea, whether one is traveling by plane, train, or automobile. Cruise ships tend to take very good care of their passengers food-wise, so there's no need to worry if that's how you're traveling. The longer the trip the more food you'll want to pack. This can be tricky with an airline.

According to the TSA's website, whole natural foods are fine, but smoothies and juices that were not purchased at the airport are a no go. You can only fit so much of anything into a carry-on bag, particularly one small enough to be permitted as a carry-on by the typical airline (22” length x 14” width x 9” height). Passengers are also allowed one personal bag, such as a laptop bag, purse, tote, briefcase or diaper bag. Not much room for food in any of those either, unless they are basically empty of all other items. You can, however, pre-order raw vegan dishes on some airlines. I know... Airline food is notoriously bad, but that may have more to do with it being consumed in a relatively dry, pressurized environment flying (shakily) thousands of feet above the earth. Airplane travel affects our senses, and our senses, particularly smell, affect how food tastes. So, even those delicious carry-on foods may taste somewhat bland once one is more than a mile above the earth's surface, inhaling recycled air.

Automobile travelers have a much easier time of it. They can load up the trunk or back seat with whatever they like, and even bus passengers can bring whatever they can carry; the same goes for trains. One can also bring along a large cutting board and their best knives without worrying about luggage space or causing a commotion (the TSA again). These are all much slower modes of transport, obviously, but they offer greater culinary freedom to the raw vegan traveler. But, depending on how far you must travel, it may not be practical.

Upon Arrival

Once one has reached their destination, they can use mobile phone apps such as the HappyCow VeginOut Guide App, which is available for both iOS and Android platforms and has an interactive map and category browser that allows one to find more than just restaurants, and VeganXpress, which is a convenient database of the vegan options available at fast-food and chain restaurants around the country. There's also Roaming Hunger, which helps one find vegan friendly food trucks in metropolitan areas. This app offers real-time locations for more than 800 different trucks nationwide and, unlike the first two apps, it's free. There are similar apps out there, but these three are the most useful and diverse.

Worrying about where one's next meal is coming from is stressful, to say the least, but between the pre-travel research and the information that can be gathered on location, any raw vegan traveler should be able to get their dietary needs met while remaining blissfully and fully raw. And if you're not 100% raw you have even more options. Keep in mind that every country, no matter how pro-meat also has a national vegetarian / vegan dish. Why? Because in most countries meat is expensive and vegetables and fruits are very inexpensive. Everyone can afford to make meals of fruits and vegetables, in countries where agriculture is not subsidized that is. And the eating out raw tips I linked to above can be used when one travels abroad as well. As with most things in life, research and strategic planning are the keys to successfully traveling as a fully raw vegan. 


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