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Monday, June 3, 2013

7 Tips for Raw Vegan Travel

I travel a lot during the summer, as I'm sure many of you do as well. When I was first becoming vegan, I was clueless as to how to easily maintain a vegan lifestyle while traveling.

What if there isn't anything for me to eat at a restaurant I go to? What if a language barrier holds me back from expressing my dietary needs? What if I am accidentally served an animal product?

These questions and more crossed my mind. And if you are traveling with friends or family, things can get even more complicated! Trying to follow a certain diet without drawing attention to yourself or creating conflict is tricky business.

I feel best when I am eating a high-raw vegan diet, but I realize that in some destinations this is harder to achieve. Here are some tips for eating plant-based while out of town. Hopefully they will make your life a little bit easier.

1. Juice/Smoothie bars are your best friend...

A huge portion of my diet consists of  fruit. Smoothies are an easy and yummy way to get my fruit fix. Plus they are very filling and chock-full of nutrients (well... depending on where you go).

Many "juice" bars create drinks that are not fruit at all, so be wary. Look for places that have drinks made from real fruit (not sherbet or concentrates) and no fillers. 

Several chains such as Jamba Juice offer fresh-squeezed juice and a few all-fruit smoothies. Or you can hit up a local spot, like I did when visiting South Carolina a few weeks ago.

Dellz Vibez in Charleston has some awesome raw options. I enjoyed a Spicy Coco Boy (sans honey).

2. ...So are salad bars

When in doubt, find a salad bar. Trust me, they are a life-saver if you are trying to eat raw. 

Lots of grocery stores have vast salad options as well as certain chains like Ruby Tuesdays.
That being said, Ruby Tuesday's wouldn't exactly be on my list of top spots to visit while in another city. I would much rather scout out some local restaurants.

If this is also the case for you, do not fear. Most restaurants have some form of salad on the menu (if not a whole bar). 
What I tend to do is order plain greens topped with whatever raw veggies are available in the kitchen.

Sometimes I will also order some cooked sides á la carte to top my salad with. Things like beans, sautéed vegetables, and even sauerkraut can add some great variety and texture to your meal.

3. Be aware of your surroundings

You never know what veg-friendly spots might be lurking right below your nose. 
Until you check, that is.

I never would have known that this little find was right next to my Charleston hotel!
Whenever I travel, I always refer to Happy Cow. This trusty little website (or app) will let you know which nearby restaurants, cafes, or markets have items that would appeal to vegans.

A quick meal that I picked up at a Trader Joe's while traveling.
They list locations all over the globe. From the Caribbean to Europe to my current location of North Carolina. I am always able to find somewhere to eat, no matter where I am.

Certain restaurants even have separate vegan menus, or symbols next to items that can be "veganized".

4. Be prepared

I like to bring a few staples to keep in my hotel room, just in case. My go-to products are:
  • fruit
  • plain oats (not technically raw, but I'm not that picky)
  • raw energy bars
  • raw protein powder
  • and (sometimes) sprouted beans- a few sprinkled on a boring restaurant salad add a nice crunch.

Most of these items can also be picked up at a nearby grocery store, if you run out.

And don't you dare forget water! This may seem like a no-brainer, but staying hydrated while on vacation isn't as easy as you might expect.

When you are constantly sight-seeing (or even relaxing at the hotel) it can be easy to forget to drink enough water. Not all countries have sanitary drinking water available, so make sure to bring purified water if necessary.

Or if you don't want to buy bottled water, you could always bring your own purifier like this one.

Brita BRITA-RIVIERA-PITCHER Ri (Google Affiliate Ad)

Personally, I think this is the better option, since I don't like to support bottled water.

5. Be flexible

There are times when I'm going to be served veggies cooked in butter, or bread containing trace amounts of milk... and I'm okay with that!

Of course it's not ideal, but I don't want to be such a stickler about what passes my lips that I cause a scene or allow myself to carry unnecessary stress.
The vegan police are not going to come and label me a phony if I have a slip-up or two.
There are times when I would have freaked out at just the thought of not being a "perfect" vegan, but I have come to realize that I'm much happier when I'm not so hard on myself.

6. Tell a little white lie

In America, everyone is constantly on some sort of diet. 
Dietary restrictions are very widely accepted, and in fact commonplace.

However, this is not always the case when in another country.
A lot of cultures don't understand why someone would purposefully limit food consumption or what specifics vegan diets entail.

To keep things simple and avoid confusion, I often times just claim that I have an allergy or intolerance to eggs and dairy. 

Yes it's a fib. No, I'm not promoting bold-faced lying. But I must admit this little lie makes everything a bit less complicated.

7. Learn the language

I am truly amazed by how universally spoken the English language is, but there are still many who don't speak it well, if at all. 

When traveling somewhere with a different native language, I cannot express how important it is to learn a bit of their tongue.
While in Italy last summer, the term senza formaggio came in handy quite often.

It is only fair to educate yourself before you decide to travel. Learning a few simple terms will result in better communication of your dietary needs. It will also make life much easier for the locals that you interact with. 

Oh, and one last tip: Keep Moving!

As this blog is mainly focused on diet, I do not discuss exercise very much. This does not mean that I view it as unimportant. 

In fact, proper nutrition and exercise go hand in hand. You cannot have one without the other. I believe that daily activity is necessary for a healthy and wholesome life.

That being said, I would like to share my advice for staying active while traveling:
  • Stay at a hotel with a gym and/or a pool where you can swim laps
  • Jog around the block (but take note: it can be dangerous to run on your own- especially in an unfamiliar city- so bring a friend if possible or stay in well lit areas with plenty of people)
  • Partake in active excursions- like biking, kayaking, paddle boarding, or hiking just to name a few
  • Find a local sweat spot- gyms or even yoga studios will sometimes offer day passes or special guest rates
I'm very excited to say that I will be traveling to the Caribbean this summer. 
I can't wait to eat loads of fresh, sweet fruit and hopefully try my hand at "the coolest new yoga trend".

What are your summer plans?
I wish you all a summer of safe, friendly, and fun travel!

Shared with Raw Foods Thursdays


  1. I wanted to let you know that I’ve nominated you for the Liebster Award. No pressure to participate, especially since you already participated before, but I just wanted you to know that I’ve enjoyed reading your blog and wanted to pass it along to my readers. You are truly inspiring, I can relate to your words and will keep reading. Check out the post here:

    1. Aw thank you- I'm so glad that you like the blog. I truly appreciate that you take the time to read it!

  2. This is such a helpful post! I'm bookmarking it for our big trip up this summer! I'm nervous about being on the road for several days in a row.

    Come share this tomorrow at Raw Foods Thursdays!!


    1. I'm so glad! I'll definitely share it

    2. I'm highlighting these fantastic tips at Raw Foods Thursdays tomorrow. Thanks so much!!!

  3. Hi Quincy, this is a really helpful post! I like your tips :)