How to Keep Your Whole Food Plant-Based Vegan Diet While Traveling
So you took the plunge. You started eating a whole food plant-based diet. You’ve changed the way you eat and live and you’re feeling great. But if you’re planning a vacation you may worry that you don’t know the first thing about whole food plant-based or vegan traveling.
Will you be able to keep up your new healthy whole food plant-based vegan lifestyle when traveling? Yes! There are tons of whole food plant-based and vegan travelers, traipsing the globe and eating plants all the while.
How do they do it? A little preparation goes a long way.
Here are our tips on sticking to your whole food plant-based diet while traveling:
First thing’s first…do a little research. Some cities are more plant-based friendly than others. The best way to suss out your vegan traveling options is to study up. You can search for vegan and whole food plant-based restaurants on Yelp. HappyCow is also a great resource — it’s a directory of veg friendly and vegan restaurants across the world, with loads of reviews from plant-based eaters.
You can also seek out vegan travel food advice from plant-based locals online.
Find state-specific Facebook groups for vegans or folks following a whole food plant-based diet. You can use the search feature in the Facebook group to look up topics or post a specific question. These groups often host a wealth of information and tips on being vegan while traveling and are an excellent way to discover some hidden plant-based gems.
2. Use instagram hashtags
You can search hashtags on Instagram to find whole food plant-based and vegan dining wherever you go. Just go to “Search” in the Instagram App and try searching for revenant hashtags.
For example if you’re headed to Paris, try looking up #VeganParis or #VegetarianParis or #PlantBasedParis and click on some of the posts from your search results to see if any veg-friendly locations are tagged or mentioned.
3. Know your airport vegan food options
Your first vegan travel challenge is most likely going to rear its head before you even arrive at your final destination. This vegan airport guide is helpful and outlines options for plant-based eats at some of the major US airports.
That said, while many of the larger airports have vegan options these days, they don’t always have healthy whole food plant-based vegan options. AND, airplane food, vegan or not, has earned its reputation for being less than ideal. So what’s a plant-based eater to do?
First, eat before you go to the airport if you can! Make a huge smoothie, like this Green Mountain smoothie, loaded with anti-inflammatory greens and protein-packed peanut butter to keep you full and happy all morning long.
Second, pack lunch or dinner if you can. You can bring prepared food to the airport AND on the plane, though liquids will get taken at security. Pack a meal that travels well and can be stored in one container, like veggie stir-fry or pasta or a salad (but wait to dress the salad until you’re ready to eat to avoid soggy greens).
And while we’re on the topping of bringing your own food…
4. Pack lots of whole food plant-based vegan snacks!
This is crucial for vegan travel! The best way to prevent yourself from eating unhealthy foods? Don’t let yourself get hungry. An easy vegan way to do that: pack and eat lots of healthy snacks while you’re traveling.
What kind of whole food plant-based vegan snacks can you bring?
Raw nuts, like almonds, walnuts, or cashews
Unsalted and sugar-free trail mix
Dried and fresh fruit that travels well, like dates, dried apricots, apples and clementines (bananas may get smushed).
Celery sticks and peanut butter
Sugar snap peas
Carrot sticks and hummus
Refined sugar-free granola, like our Gram’s Granola here.
5. Learn to order whole food plant-based meals at non-vegan restaurants.
When you traveling with friends you may not always be the one choosing the restaurant. Instead of panicking that you’ll go back to your hotel room hangry, learn how to order whole food plant-based meals at any restaurant. A few tips:
Try looking up the menu online before you head to the restaurant to see if they have any vegan meals. Even if they don’t, seeing the menu before you arrive will help you assess if you can piece together a meal, making the ordering process easier on you and your waiter.
Be on the lookout for the words, ”steamed” "baked" and “grilled.” These typically mean the items aren’t fried. Then before you order, you can ask about any hidden oil or animal fats. oil and any hidden animal products.
Always be nice! Your server may be clueless to what a vegan or whole food plant-based diet really is. And for some, eating vegan can be stressful because you have to explain dietary preferences. But just remember that a smile goes a long way when asking for something off menu!
Need help figuring out what to order, specifically? Check out this blog post for more whole food plant-based dining tips.
6. Learn how to ask for what you want in foreign languages
If you’re going someplace where English is not the first language, there are some helpful phrases and words you can learn to make ordering food easier. L
earning the word “fat,” for example, may be helpful in your vegan travels as it will help you avoid items that have been cooked in it. Other phrases and words that may be helpful for the traveling vegan include:
Vegan and/or “I am vegan.”
7. Bring or purchase condiments, if possible
Some countries or cities will have tons of whole food plant-based options, others will not. That’s the name of the game.
Changes are, if you’re traveling a lot you’re going to find yourself eating a few plain vegan meals, i.e. a baked potato and some steamed broccoli. To spice things up, bring you own condiments if you can, like a bottle of low-sodium Tarmari or another oil-free sauce, to give your plain plant-based dishes some flavor.
8. Get yourself a kitchen
A great way to stay the whole food plant-based path when traveling? Book a place with a kitchen so you can prepare food and know for sure there are no animal fats or hidden oils.
Look for hotels with kitchenette options or check out homes and apartments for your visit on vacation rental sites like, AirBnB and HomeAway.
Can’t find a place with a kitchen? Get MamaSezz! We’ll deliver ready to heat-and-eat whole food plant-based vegan meals to your hotel if you’re staying in the US.
9. Don’t beat yourself up
There may be a time where cheese comes on your salad or veggies are cooked in animal fat and you just eat it because you’re hungry, or run down, or feeling weird about sending it back. On those occasions, do not beat yourself up!
Eating this way is supposed to help you live and feel better, not stress you out over being “perfect.” Try to find a more veg friendly option for your next outing and enjoy your trip!
By Ali Brown
Ali is a whole food plant-based nutrition writer, with a Plant-Based Nutrition Certification from Cornell.