Being vegan can be challenging enough in America. Eating with non-vegans, not finding anything vegan-friendly on a menu that is appetizing and making sure to consume holistic foods isn’t the easiest task. So when I traveled around Europe last summer, I was nervous that eating vegan would be impossible.
But I was wrong. I quickly learned tricks that set me up for plant-based success. There were times during my travels that made it extremely tough for me to stay vegan, but for the most part, I overcame the challenges and stuck to a plant-based diet.
These are some of the things I learned to make it simpler to stay vegan while in Europe.
1. Grocery stores are your best friends.
2. Step outside of your comfort zone.
Sometimes there will be situations where there is really nothing vegan-friendly. But there is probably a menu item that is almost vegan. With that being said, it might be the best option to remove the dairy or meat product yourself from a dish. In France, there were sandwich shops everywhere. Although most of them didn’t offer vegan sandwiches, it was easy to pick the mozzarella or scrape the tuna off of them. Although not the most appetizing option, sometimes stepping outside of your comfort zone in order to eat is necessary.
3. Purchase snacks when you find them.
As mentioned before, there will be times where nothing is vegan. You can run into trouble on the long bus, train and plane rides. But this can be avoided by purchasing vegan-friendly snacks and stowing them in your carry-on. Being a tourist means long days away from wherever you're staying, so snacks can also come in handy when you encounter hunger during days of exploration. Some of my favorite and most practical snacks I carried with me were dates, chips and breakfast bars.
4. Get creative with menu options.
I ran into many situations where there were no vegan-friendly options at first glance. But by taking a closer look, there might be some hidden veg-friendly options.
And if you don't speak the language of the country you're in, it might be a good idea to look up how to say "no cheese" or "no chicken" in that language before visiting the restaurants. And by asking for single items like bread, vegetables or plain salad and offering to pay full price, it's entirely possible to create some type of vegan option.
5. Google is your second best friend.
Even if other people in your group aren't as concerned with menu options as you are due to your dietary restrictions, that doesn't mean you should be left behind. By utilizing Google, assuming Wifi is present, to look up some veg-friendly spots in your city, you probably can discover options that will please everyone you're traveling with.
There may also be another vegan who shared their story on the internet about maneuvering the specific city's options.
If you're traveling in a small town, that's where it can get tricky. But you still might be able to dig some type of evidence online about what you can do.
Although it's extremely difficult at times to stay 100 percent vegan while traveling around Europe, it is definitely possible. These five things are just some of the things I learned while being vegan abroad.