Food and eating are an integral part of both living and traveling. Food is often at the core of every culture and its often one of the things many of us want to experience as part of the traveling experience. Through the local cuisine, we can learn to taste a country and get to know its landscapes, climates and altitudes. Unfortunately, if you’re plant-based traveling as a vegan doesn’t always come easy when sampling local foods. In many cuisines meat, fish and dairy products are at the core of food tradition and it can be hard to authentically experience food culture as a part of travel.
This is changing however and as the plant-based diet grows in popularity around the world, so do our options for finding local, authentic vegan cuisine when we travel. While it continues to grow, here are some other ways that you can experience food culture when traveling as a vegan.
Take a vegan cooking class
Taking a cooking class is one of the best ways to learn about the food culture of the country you’re visiting. Not only do you get a chance to learn about the ingredients themselves and where they come from, but you’re also learning a new skill which you can take home with you and recreate the meals you learned again and again. Not to mention you also get to sample the delicious food after. There are many vegetarian and vegan specific cooking classes such as May Kaidee’s Thai Cooking class in Bangkok, Thailand, or many others that can quite easily modify recipes to accommodate plant-based needs. Always make sure to check before booking though as there many be some dishes on the cooking school menu that can’t be modified.
Check into a Wellness Retreat
Wellness travel is steadily on the rise as we look for ways to check out of our busy, stressful lives and routines. Wellness retreats are the ideal way to relax the mind, rest the body, learn something new and also experience a new culture and it’s food traditions. Most wellness retreats offer healthful, more often than not plant-based meals which are normally prepared by local chefs and focus on local ingredients and dishes. It’s a great way to get stuck into food tourism and your own health at the same time.
Stay at a Vegan-Friendly B&B
If a full-on wellness retreat isn’t quite what you’re looking for but still want to experience some plant-based hospitality you might want to check out vegan or vegetarian B&Bs. Throughout Europe, in particular, you can find quite a few B&Bs that offer fully plant-based meals on-site meaning that after a full day of exploring, traveling as a vegan is easy. Meals at these B&Bs, especially breakfasts focus on local food traditions that have been modified to be meat-free so you can experience local food culture in the best way possible. England, in particular, has many vegetarian B&Bs that offer delicious plant-based full English breakfasts in the morning- the highlight of any trip to England.
Thinking about visiting England? Check out The London Bucket List | An Insider’s Guide to 30 Must-Do Experiences and The Ultimate Cotswold Itinerary for the Perfect Weekend Trip (including Oxford and Bath)
Sign up for a food tour
Another great way to experience the local food culture is through a food tour. Food tours often start at markets and knowledgeable guides explain everything there is to know about the local dishes and ingredients. In fact, going on a food tour will give you the chance to ask a food guide about the countries plant-based food options- I find there always is something that is naturally vegan that I had no idea about. On a food tour, you will be able to sample some local dishes, ingredients and even get some great plant-based food recommendations. Some foodie destinations nowadays even offer specific vegan food tours so make sure to check out apps like Airbnb Experiences and Get Your Guide to see what food tours are offered at your destination.
Use Directory Apps
There are so many restaurant apps nowadays that can help us find great quality, local plant-based food and using them really is the way to find local, plant-based food. Happy Cow in particular and also Trip Advisor help you to find the best plant-based and vegan-friendly restaurants in your area. You can check to see what kind of food they serve and read the reviews to make sure you’re opting for the best choice. There are so many locally-owned, hole-in-the-wall, delicious places to discover through these apps.
Go on a Vineyard Tour and Wine Tasting
Wine is a very large part of the food and drink culture in many countries. One of the best ways to experience it is by going to a vineyard, taking a tour and exploring the premises and finishing with a delightful wine tasting to sample the best of what the land has to offer. You can opt for a private transfer tour in Chile or a bicycle vineyard tour in Mendoza, Argentina and really explore the beautiful landscapes as well as the rich wine culture.
Interested in a wine tour near Santiago, Chile? Check out The Best Casablanca Valley Wineries You Must-Visit
Top tips for traveling as a vegan:
↠ Do your research about the local food before traveling. Researching the most famous dishes in a culture, the culture overall, as well as religion, can really help with gauging how much plant-based food you’ll be able to find. In Buddhist countries, for example, you can often find a plant-based restaurant on temple grounds.
↠ Always carry snacks. You won’t always have plant-based options readily available and sometimes it does take a bit of effort to find something good. It never hurts to carry a few GoMacro Bars or similar with you just in case.
↠ Check out the local markets. They are full of fresh fruit and vegetables which you can pick up and snack on or prepare in your Airbnb. Markets are also the hub of food culture in many countries around the world.
Do you have any comments or questions about traveling as a vegan? Let me know below, I’d love to hear from you.
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