Navigating a vegan diet in the comfort of one’s own community can be hard enough for those not accustomed to eating entirely plant-based food. However, taking dietary restrictions to unknown territory is a task even longtime vegans struggle with. With spring break coming up, many students will likely be traveling on a plant-based diet for the first time or working out the kinks of taking their diets on the road.
This doesn’t have to be a daunting challenge. I’ve found being vegan has led me to many incredible eats on all of my spring break travels. With a little bit of extra planning, any vegan can have a stress-free trip.
Getting to and from a destination is often the hardest part of eating on a plant-based diet while traveling. McDonald’s, Wendy’s and other popular fast food chains typically offer one or two vegan options — a side salad and fries or some other type of fried potato. However, Taco Bell is surprisingly very vegan friendly. The chain even has a guide on its website that outlines vegan options at any of its restaurants. If you don’t want to rely on Taco Bell and french fries for fuel, pack adequate car snacks.
There are also often hidden gems at gas stations. The candy section probably won’t offer much by way of vegan treats, but look for Clif Bars or Larabars for something sweet. For savory, potato chips and corn chips are typically a safe bet. The nice thing about packaged foods is that they have labels, so be sure to check for animal ingredients before you get to the register.
For those who have chosen flying over road-tripping, airports tend to have much better snacks than the typical roadside gas station. Again, labels are your friend, but you’re likely to find many recognizable brands in airport convenience shops. Airport restaurants can be a bit more iffy, and it’s not uncommon to end up paying $8 just for some rice and vegetables. If you need to eat at an airport while traveling, there will definitely be options, but you might want to hold off until you can get your hands on a meal that’s cheaper and more satisfying.
Wherever you go, you have options
Having a week to do whatever the heart desires can be daunting for vegans who have decided to take a trip but don’t want to pack a week’s worth of food in their suitcase. It should come as no surprise that big cities are typically very vegan-friendly, so don’t fret if you’re taking a trip to Los Angeles, Chicago or New York –– just be sure to budget enough money for eating out. If you’re visiting a smaller town, use www.happycow.net to see what vegan options are around (the website is great for big cities too).
Large commercial operations, such as resorts and cruises, typically make an effort to accommodate dietary restrictions. However, it doesn’t hurt to check out their websites or call their customer service numbers with any questions you might have. If you’ve paid any sort of all-inclusive package for food, definitely make sure you know what will be available before hopping on a boat or plane.
If you’re taking to the outdoors for spring break, you are likely in complete control of what you bring to eat. The only caveat is when you’ve decided to share food with any people who are adventuring with you, which can be difficult if they aren’t vegan. Stock up on calorie-dense, plant-based foods like beans, trail mix (watch out for milk chocolate), soy protein bars and granola.