Archive for the ‘Vegan Travel’ Category

  • TOP 10 TIPS FOR TRAVELING VEGANS

    Date: 2016.01.26 | Category: Vegan Travel | Response: 0

    Vegan VacationsHere is the great news, today traveling while vegan is easier than ever. With a little research, some planning and preparation, an open and positive attitude, your journey is guaranteed to be fun and exciting! Whether you are heading for Europe, Asia, Africa or the Americas, here are my top 10 practical tips that have been tested and shared with many vegan travelers over the years and proved to be a valuable help for new vegans.

    1. Plan before you leave

    – A little research at home goes a long way. As an absolute minimum, always check the site Happycow.com to identify vegan friendly restaurants in every city you will be visiting and locate health food stores to get your supplies. THIS IS A MUST!
    – Also find out where and when local farmer’s markets are so that you can buy local fruit and vegetable for breakfast or snacking. This is a must for Europe where eating out can be expensive and depending what your travel budget is.
    – There are so many vegan travelers that now blog about their experience that you can read specifics information on just about any region in the world when it comes to safely experience local food. Research, research, research! It is also a great way to meet cool people once you get there!
    – If you are travelling with a smart phone to a big city, download the Foursquare app and search for “vegan” mentions near where you are and find great tips left by others who have come before you.
    – If you are traveling with a small group of people and plan on staying in one city, you will be a lot better off by renting an Airbnb instead of getting a hotel since it will come with a full kitchen and dining area. You will be totally in control of your food experience. 

    2. What to expect on the planeVegan travel

    No matter what airline you are traveling on, you should always order a vegan meal (vegetarian no lacto-ovo) and bring some snacks on the plane just in case they forget about it. This has happened to me once every 5-6 international trips! So you have been warned!
    Another thing you can count on is that it isn’t going to be a memorable meal!  You will most likely get a small green salad with oil and vinegar dressing, some steamed vegetables with rice but no real sauce to speak of, a fruit salad and usually a ice cold roll of bread. Voilà, bon appétit! For some reason, airplane food without meat or fish resembles more a hospital diet tray where flavor and seasonings have been omitted on-purpose! This being said, in coach class, Asian airlines do a much better job in serving tastier food (many serve some form of marinated pan-fried tofu as protein). 

    3. What to prepare ahead of time

    Here are some of my favorite snacks I always bring with me when I travel. They are easy to pack, do not need refrigeration and last a long time.

    • Seaweed Love All Natural Roasted Seaweed Variety Pack, Original and Olive Oil, 0.18 Ounce (Pack of 24). Buy large packages and empty the content in small ziploc bags. Can be used as is, with salads, rice etc.) 
    • Chick peas, white and red beans make a great protein rich snack.  See my recipe for Homemade roasted bean mix for a fantastic healthy salty fast food treat!
    • Medjool dates stuffed with raw almonds as a sweet snack. Can’t get tired of this combo. 
    • Mix of raw nuts, bananas and goji berries.
    • A handful of prunes works wonders to counter the effects sitting for hours and cabin pressure have on the digestive system, and ensure proper elimination while in the air! All I will say about it is that it is amazing and helps with jetlag because proper elimination can be an issue when going over timezones and getting used to it.
    • A small Ziploc bag with your favorite mix of spices.
    Vegan travel

    Great for travelling and at home!


    4. What to bring with you

    Here is a short list of items I bring pretty much every time I travel:
    – A metal  water bottle to carry both hot and cold liquid. Or PBA-free plastic if you don’t need to carry hot liquid.
    – A good water filter like the Katadyn vario water filter
    – A collapsible bowl to bring back left over foods. One of my favorite kind is the Aladdin 2 Collapsible Mini Bowl Set 4oz, Eggplantbecause it comes with a lid that screws on top so you never have to worry about leaks. It is also microwave and dishwasher safe and bpa-free. What’s not to like?

    – A good probiotic supplement that doesn’t require refrigeration. I use Saccharomyces Boulardii + MOS, Value Size, 180 Count because it is hypo allergenic, non dairy and contains over 5 billions organisms per capsule! 
    – Small glass bottle for spices, sauces etc.
    – Small Ziploc bags to pack salads, snacks in your purse or backpack.

    5. What to avoid on the ground

    We have all heard the saying “When in Rome …” and while it may be true in many cases, there are a few instances where one should probably abstain from following the crowd.  In my experience, there are:
    – If you travel below the Equator or to Asia, India or Africa, it is better to stay away from local street food stalls (unless of course they are vegan!) because tourists do not have the resistance to bacteria and parasites that locals are used and immuned to.
    – Try to only eat fruit that can be peeled (banana, papaya, kiwi etc.)
    – If you are in hot countries, never drink tap water and if you have to,  use a portable water filter (straw or filter in bottle). There are many models, I like the Katadyn vario water filter because it is small, I can connect it to my water bottle and it does the job. 

     6. Know how to communicate your needs

    Even if you don’t feel that you need to explain why you are vegan, I have noticed that depending which country you are visiting, people will respond differently to your reasons for being vegans.

    • If you are in France (fairly vegan hostile country) the simple mention that you have a serious allergy to certain foods will increase the chances that the waiter will tell you the truth about what they are serving you.
    • If you are in Asia, you can say that you follow the principles of non-violence and everyone will be impressed!
    • In the US and South America, ethical reasons are understood. This being said, if you find yourself dining at someone’s home, a fancy restaurant or a food cart, be respectful of others, always keep a positive attitude that you will work something out and you will.  If it doesn’t look like it will, no problem, try somewhere else. This is where keeping something to snack on will go a long way because changing plan when you are starving won’t help finding a solution. By focusing on the food instead of while asking for a few substitute and not.

    7Know specific substitutes to ask for

    Depending where you are traveling or the type of restaurants you are dining at, there are a few things to look out for that you may not be aware of:

    • In Chinese restaurants: watch out for dishes served in oyster sauce.
    • In Thai and Vietnamese restaurants, make sure that there is no fish sauce in the dishes (usually found in most curry dishes). Ask for soy sauce or plum sauce as a substitute for fish counterpart (Nuoc Mam).
    • In French restaurants, always ask if the soup was made with vegetable broth, if the pasta has eggs, ask to cook in olive oil.
    • In Japanese restaurants, order vegetable sushi (avocado, cucumber, asparagus), order miso soup without bonito flakes.
    • Stay away from curry dishes in Indian restaurants (since they are usually cooked with yogurt), ask if they could prepare flat bread without ghee (clarified butter).

     8. Learn a few words in the local language

    Being able to share a few words in the local language while ordering food or getting to know the locals is a great way to connect with people and show interest and respect for their culture. As a minimum you should learn how to say: no meat, no fish, no eggs, no dairy, no honey, no gelatin in the local language. Write it down phonetically, then try to memorize these short sentences so that you can point at an item and ask whether or not they are safe. Don’t feel intimidated, a little goes a long way. The idea is that you are opened to learning new words, new flavors, new customs…
    The easiest way to learn is to get a Vegan card in the language you need. It is the size of a credit card and says it all! In the worse case scenario, you don’t even have to learn how to speak, you can just show it to the waiter and let them tell you what is safe on the menu. 

    Vegan cruises

    Vegan cruises

    9. Planning for cruises

    Cruises are very popular these days and since you are going to be stuck on a boat for a while, you should make sure that they can truly accommodate vegans and by that I don’t mean serving you green salads and pasta with tomato sauce every day! Research well before booking so that you know what to expect. Then inform the cruise line of your special needs way before you depart.
    In general, you can find an array of options with the buffet for lunch. For dinners on board, try to stay at the same table if you have a good waiter that understand your needs.

    Here are the best cruise lines in terms of experience for vegans:
    1. Royal Caribbean has identified
    gluten-free, low-calorie, lactose-free or vegetarian, and have introduced gluten-free foods on their menus.
    2.
    Holistic Holiday’s Seven Day Vegan Sea Cruise is a great option!
    3. Vegan Cruise Planners go to the Mexican Riviera
    4. Carnival Cruises can accommodate vegan and gluten-free passengers. They even have special diet hostesses that will take care of your every need!
    5. Holland America has a vegetarian menu that can easily be veganized.
    If you are still not sure, look for recent cruise reviews and comments online.

    10. Look for vegetarian/vegan tours online and support them!

    If you don’t want to hassle with finding vegan friendly food, deal with a foreign language or plan for every detail while traveling, search for packages that offer all-inclusive vegan friendly tours. As the vegan community grows, more and more vegan travel tours are popping up. So patronize them so that more join the movement! Research online, contact the owners or managers, read comments from previous travelers to make sure what they offer is what you are looking for.

    Happy travels!  Bon Voyage!
    Don’t hesitate to share if you have more tips on vegan travelling!

     

    Here are a few more traveling things I always take with me:

    NEVER GET FINED FOR EXTRA WEIGHT BY CHECKING HOW MUCH YOUR SUITCASE WEIGHS WITH THIS COOL GADGET

    CHARGE ALL YOUR MOBILE DEVICES ON THE GO!

    CLEAN AND SAFE WATER NO MATTER WHERE YOU GO!

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  • Great Vegan Vacations in Belize

    Date: 2015.12.20 | Category: Vegan Travel | Response: 0

    So I turned 50 this year!  Yikes!

    Time really creeps up on you when you are not counting! To mark the event, we decided to try a new destination, but it had to be  a vegan friendly place.  When you get older, you know what matters and what you won’t do without!  Plus, there isn’t much fun being in paradise and being worried about finding safe food in restaurants. Thanks to the internet, we typed Vegan Caribbean vacations in Google and found a number of options. In addition to vegan food, we wanted a variety of activities, lots of nature and animals, beach, sacred sites,  time to rest, interact with locals… We experienced such a magical trip in Sri Lanka more than 10 years ago. We didn’t want to travel that far so we opted for Central America instead.

    We chose a package for Belize and Guatemala. 8 days and 9 nights. Just the right amount of time.  We stayed in an eco lodge in Belize…

     

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  • Vegan in Las Vegas!

    Date: 2014.02.27 | Category: Vegan Travel | Response: 0

    It is nice to see that the vegan movement has reached Las Vegas and is starting to take roots. I remember standing at mile long buffets, with only a few options to pick from, even as a vegetarian.  Meals were a lot cheaper back then but there were a lot less choices too… Today, the reality is,  a meal on the strip will cost you anywhere between $30-$60 per person and more if you order wine or cocktails. If you are not picky and a carnivore, you can always grab a quick bite in fast food concessions at the various food courts located in the shopping mall level connecting each major hotel. But for vegetarians or vegans, there is major space for improvement. So, when we went this year, we knew we had to research this and try some new places. We didn’t want to spend all our money on food this time, so we decided not to go to restaurants at the Wynn’s casino (they have amazing vegan haute cuisine restaurants with high price menus) and stay around our hotel area.

    Bistro Mon Ami Gabi at Paris Paris

     

    We stayed at Paris Paris because it is centrally located and right across from Belaggio’s fountain. Being French, I didn’t have great expectations when it comes to vegan options in the various restaurants they offer. What? No butter? No cream? No egg? Quel scandale !  So we were pleasantly surprised to discover that their French bistro, Mon Ami Gabi could not only accommodate our picky vegan taste buds but even satisfy them.

    It is one of the few restaurants on the strip where you can dine outside on the terrasse and experience the heart of the town. The weather was mild, we wanted to have an early dinner, watch the sunset and catch the fountains from the bistro.  We ended up ordering an appetizer made of different olives with herbs and several side dishes: steamed spinach perfectly seasoned, pan fried garlic wild mushrooms, roasted root vegetables. It was very well served for sides and had plenty enough for two people. They also gave us the most amazing warm baguettes. OMG! We asked for olive oil and balsamic vinegar instead of the usual butter.  It was perfect. Dinner with a show! We were off to a good start!

    The Fountains at Bellaggio

    Cañonita at the Venetian

     

     

     

    The next day, we ventured over the Venitian for a walk.  By the time we got there, it was around lunch time and we were a little hungry. We found a Mexican restaurant right on the canal called: Cañonita  that had one vegan option, so we had to try it.

     

     

     

     

    View from Cañonita

    The view from the balcony was so lovely, we watched gondolas pass by, listened to gondolier sing famous Italian songs. The great thing about the Venetian, is that you get the same experience 365 days a year, for lunch or dinner since it is indoor and the lighting remains the same.

    We ordered guacamole to go with the chips and salsa they served (because you have to have your healthy fats).  For the main dish, we ordered their “Tolucca Portobello mushroom”.  Imagine slices of perfectly roasted Portobello mushroom with roasted tomato fennel sauce, on a bed of seared green, black beans with an amazing cilantro pesto.  It was exquisite and plenty again for two people. The only thing I would have done different and suggested the waiter was to remove the rib on the large Swiss chard and kale leaves. Ribs on leafy greens are the kind of things that turn people off to them and rob them of their wondrous nutritional benefit they give us. Otherwise it was perfect.

     

    Tolucca Portobello mushroom

    We were told that the executive chef is Donna Willey. I really hope that she gets more creative and ads a few new vegan dishes to her menu. If you are in the area, request it too. If we don’t ask, they won’t see the need to do it. That’s why I go out of my way to patronize vegan restaurants but I also feel that it is important to encourage restaurant owners to incorporate vegan options in their menu. And every single one I have spoken to in the past, has done it in a small or a big way. In any case, we all win! So you may want to do the same whenever you have a chance. What I tell them, is that when we go out in a group, if the restaurant has no vegan options, we all walk out and find one that does. They don’t lose one customer but the whole group of people. It isn’t an isolated case anymore as it was in the past. With all the various dietary restrictions out there (gluten-free, dairy-free etc.), restaurants owners have to be aware of this growing segment of the population and it isn’t a trend that is going away any time soon either. So the more flexible and thoughtful they are to these various needs, the better their business will do.

    We had bought tickets to see Cirque du Soleil’s Michael Jackson One at Mandalay Bay the next day. I have to say that this was one of the most amazing Cirque du Soleil performance.  Michael left us way too early but his legacy will live forever as the one. What an evening!  We found out earlier  that 2 restaurants at Mandalay Bay had not only vegan options but an entire vegan menu. That’s when you know they are serious about catering to vegans.  So we had to check it out. One of the restaurant was called Hussong’s.  I thought it was Chinese (or maybe I was looking forwards to some Chinese because we had Mexican the day before!) but it turns out it was a Mexican cantina. Think sport tavern in Mexico with great food and you get an idea. The place is very clean, open, with lots of Mexican art pieces on the wall, bringing warmth and sunshine to the place. We asked for their vegan menu and were surprised to see 9 dishes, all well known and loved. They used Daiya cheese, Gardein chick’n or beef  tips, just like we do at home!

    Enchildada at Hussong’s

     

     

    We ordered an enchilada and a Tostada salad. Both were delicious and well served. The vinaigrette in both dishes were exquisite. Since it was after the show, the place was more quiet than usual. The manager came to say hi and wanted to know how things were.

     

     

     

    Hussong’s Vegan Menu

    He told us that the bartender of the original Hussong’s in Encindada, Mexico, invented the Margarita back in 1941! A great meal with a little historical trivia, can it get better? Apparently the beautiful daughter of a German ambassador to Mexico stopped in his restaurant asking the bartender for a unique drink and he put together the perfect blend of tequila, Damiana and lime over ice. Her name was Margaret, or as they say in Mexico, Margarita. The rest is history.

    By the way, if you look on Groupon you can usually get $20 off $50 for Hussong’s. One caveat though, only buy one coupon, because you can only use one coupon per table!

    Slice of Vegas Vegan Menu

     

     

    We also found out that right next to Hussong’s there is a pizza place called Slice of Vegas that has a vegan menu. It turns out that they are both owned by the same company and have the same chef! His name is Noe Alcala and he is pretty amazing! We didn’t have time or space for trying it that night but looking at their menu, it is a great lunch or dinner destination with fun appetizers (chick’n wings, bruschetta, roasted cauliflower), 2 salads, 3 sandwiches (meatball, veggie sub, Portobello sub), 4 pizzas (BBQ, Meatless meatball, vegan faux pie, Back east buffalo) and if don’t like any of these, you can make your own too! They also have bowls and 2 desserts (chocolate cake and zeppoli, a healthier version of churros using pizza dough balls!) We are definitely going there on our next trip.

    Tour Eiffel restaurant

     

    We also ate at the Eiffel Tower on our last night for our wedding anniversary. The view and service were very fancy,  but the food wasn’t that great or worth the price. Not many vegan choices. Frankly, we ate better at the Cafe Mon Ami Gabi downstairs for half the price!

     

     

    So next time you go to Las Vegas, make sure to check these places out and do a little research because more and more restaurants are joining the movement and by the time you go, you will have even more options to chose from. Happy and safe travelling!

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  • Vegan Options in Las Vegas?

    Date: 2011.09.22 | Category: vegan news, Vegan Travel | Response: 0

    Sin city must be looking for some redemption because it  is now offering vegan choices in Wynn and Encore hotels and restaurants. With endless huge buffets where vegans can usually only find meager selections and not always very flavorful ones, the news of vegan options will be music to your ears!

    Who do we have to thank for this great development?
    To casino mogul, Steve Wynn himself. His motto: “I’m killing two birds at once, so to speak. Animal-based food kills people. This way by going vegan … we get healthy and save animals… I just wish I’d come to all of this earlier in my life instead of later. Who knows how much it would have changed everything?”

    When Steve Wynn, Mike Tyson, Russell Simmons and Bill Clinton publicly announced going vegan (not all at once, but you get the point!), you know this isn’t a trend du jour! Powerful people are figuring it out for themselves and sticking to it. And this is just the ones who had the courage to come out publicly about it. Many have been vegetarian for years but thought it was a personal choice and didn’t feel the need to convince others about the importance of it. Now, with climate change, food insecurity due to weather changes, rising market prices … +50 billion animals slaughtered every year (10 in the US alone), business as usual is no longer an option! So get ready for more celebrities coming out of the closet so to speak! But to tilt the scale, everyone has to head in this direction, not just the rich and famous. It is a little like Horton hears a hoo!

    So if you are heading for Vegas and were dreading the dining part of the trip, make sure to check out the menus of the Wynn and Encore restaurants here.

    Other restaurants serving vegan options are: The Country Club, Bartolotta, Botero (Steakhouse $60 five-course vegan tasting menu). While you may not want to patronize a steakhouse (I certainly don’t, you have have to draw the line somewhere!) it may be an option if you travel with meat eating people. But the first 2 options will do the trick.

    For more details, actual restaurant reviews read this great article.

    Happy traveling!

     

     

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  • Traveling through Amsterdam Airport?

    Date: 2011.09.14 | Category: Vegan Travel | Response: 0

    Juice Bar at Schipool airport

    If you happen to be traveling to Europe and transiting through Schipoll airport, I have some good news. Not only does Amsterdam offer cheap fares to Europe for US travelers, but you can now enjoy a nice fresh vegetable and fruit juice while waiting for your next connection. I had a few hours to kill and stiff legs from a long flight so I walked around a little. When to my great joy, I saw a “Juicy Details” a bright juice bar located near the T2 and T3 transfer area.

    Waiting for a needed boost of vitamins!

    I got a carrot, apple and ginger large juice for just 5.50€. What a deal!  And it just hit the spot! Airport food can be a challenge especially for vegans. So this was a perfect boost of vitamins, enzymes and energy, just what the doctor ordered.

    But it doesn’t stop here, as I was counting my blessings sipping my juice, I noticed across from the juice bar a store called Rituals. I like the sound of this! As I approached it, I saw all kinds of natural creams, lotions I could sample while I was waiting for my flight.  Don’t have to ask me twice! It was divine, I must have sampled 10 of them on every patch skin I could find!  Traveling can be rough on your skin with the recycled air in the planes, the airport etc!

    Heavenly body creams for the weary traveler!

    Turns out, their products are not only entirely natural, plant based but they are also not tested on animals. I thought I had died and gone to heaven! And the prices were pretty reasonable too. Considering the location, the quality of the products, the packaging, it was outright cheap. So I bought a few creams as gifts and they even wrapped them for me. Actually, if you do buy some, make them wrap it for you because creams and lotions are considered liquid and will be confiscated in your next security check unless they are gift wrapped (that would ruin your day!) They will not only put the cream in a nice paper package but they will also seal it in a plastic bag with the receipt and the location so that when you go through your security check, they will see that it originated in the airport and will let you go through without a problem.

    So next time you transition through Schipoll airport, get your vitamin boost and free lathering of naturally scented great creams before heading to your next destination, so that you can feel and smell fresh and renewed for the rest of your trip.

    Bon voyage!

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