Stuck eating rice and vegetables for days and only just noticed? Surviving on just noodles and starchy vegetables? As a plant-based explorer, I know how easy it is to keep loading up on carbs and veggies without noticing protein intake. Who hasn’t done this before? While it may be easy to ignore protein, it’s probably not the best ideas to. Lucky, however, with a few tips and tricks here’s how to get enough protein as a vegan when on the road.
When it comes to travelling as a vegan, how well you will eat really depends on the country or place you travel to. As a plant-based eater and traveller I’ve been to some pretty remote places in this world- places where it’s pretty difficult or even impossible to find vegan protein sources such as tofu, tempeh, beans and nuts. I personally love heading to ‘wellness’ destinations such as Bali, Tulum, Thailand, places in Australia, Europe etc but I also love exploring off the beaten track countries and undiscovered places. While some destinations are definitely more challenging they shouldn’t have to be ignored nor should our health suffer when we visit them.
Why care about protein?
Protein is essential to our diet and helps our bodies grow and repair. The stomach breaks down protein into amino acids which are absorbed into the small intensive. The liver then sorts out which amino acids the body needs and the rest are flushed out of the body. I feel that the amounts we need have definitely been exaggerated in recent years. Protein is now put into many everyday products such as protein bars, balls, shakes, soups and even cereals. While you probably don’t need to consume the same amounts of protein as a bodybuilder, the active human needs about 0.8 grams of protein a day for each kilogram of weight. So, if you’re a 60kg (132lb) woman you’ll want to be eating about 48 grams (1.7oz) daily.
Here are my top tips for how you can get the adequate amount of protein as a plant-based eater, especially in vegan ‘unfriendly’ places. These really are a game-changer.
Doing your food homework about a destination is the sure way you’ll get the most out of your stay and your food experience from both a nutritional and pleasure standpoint. Use apps like Happy Cow and Tripadvisor to see what’s available at your destination. Some local restaurants also have websites and Facebook pages posting pictures of their menus or their specials for the day so you can work out what you want to eat ahead of time. Happy Cow also has listings for stores selling vegan-friendly snacks and staples giving you the opportunity to stock up for upcoming adventures.
Aim for a Balanced Meal Every Time
We should be consuming 15% protein, 55% carbohydrate and 30% fat with every meal. Try and aim for that when ordering your food. Dishes such as legume burgers, buddha bowls with a protein and even rice, beans and salad all provide this essential ratio. Thinking in ratios does help to automatically order a balanced meal.
Stock up on Snacks at Local Markets
Many local markets and supermarkets sell vegan snacks naturally high in protein. Nuts and seeds can be found all over the globe along with trail mix and fruit and nut bars. At the very least you’ll always be able to find peanuts which contain a whopping 26g of protein per 100g. Nuts really are a plant-based traveller’s best friend.
In countries I know it will be challenging eating out on a plant-based diet, I try to find accommodation that allows me access to a kitchen to cook and prepare my meals. This is the surest way to be in control of what you’re eating and for how to get enough protein as a vegan. For this, I use Airbnb mostly. It makes all the difference, and I can’t recommend it enough. You can go to the market, stock up on fresh veg and protein sources like beans, lentils, oats, quinoa, nuts and seeds, and create your very own protein-filled, balanced meals.
If you haven’t yet signed up for Airbnb, use my link for up to $65 off your first booking.
To help you make the right decisions for your needs, below I have attached a protein chart for all the most common products you’ll find while travelling. Over the years I have memorized the top few in each group which really helps me to make better food decisions when travelling.
What’s your top tip for travelling as a plant-based eater? If you have any comments or questions about how to get enough protein as a vegan while travelling then leave a comment below, I’d love to know.
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