My recent trip to Italy was the first time I traveled internationally being 100% vegan. Cheers to that! During my year abroad, I was still transitioning to veganism (read more about why I transitioned and how to transition to veganism). I would say that I was vegan for a majority of my time in Milan except when I went out to eat and when I traveled to other countries as it was difficult for me to find vegan options. However, I was determined this time around to do my best to be fully vegan!
Before I get into the details about how I was able to be vegan, let’s be real…I probably did end up eating some form of dairy unknowingly (i.e.: in fresh pasta) and am still convinced one of my dinners had anchovies in the sauce (my body told me so too). I want to be real with you all because when you travel, you can’t control everything no matter how much you want to. All you can do is try your best. One of my favorite eco-bloggers, The Girl Gone Green, spoke to this point recently too!
That being said, I want to share some tips that helped me stay vegan:
- Be prepared! I brought a jar of trail mix with me as well as some energy bars (I brought the wrappers back with me to recycle at Mom’s Organic Market). These snacks came in handy while I was waiting in the airport and on the plane. I probably would’ve brought more with me, but I didn’t have room in my backpack.
- Look up farmer’s markets in your destination. I already knew where the farmer’s market was in Milan, but I looked one up as soon as I got to Cagliari. I stocked up on tons of fruits to munch on there. It’s also really cool to go to farmer’s markets because they’re mostly visited by locals so you get a more in depth look at the culture and the produce is often very cheap!
- Go to the grocery store. If you can’t find a farmer’s market or didn’t pack snacks, find the nearest grocery store and stock up. Often when we travel, I think we forget that we can go grocery shopping and don’t have to eat every meal out. Going to the grocery store is a perfectly viable option! I went to the grocery store in Milan the second day I was there for snacks and both days in Cagliari because I had difficulty finding vegan lunches and wanted to restock on snacks for the long plane ride home.
- Translate “I’m vegan and can’t eat meat, fish, eggs, or dairy” in the local language. I didn’t do this because I speak a little bit of Italian so I could explain to waiters that I was vegan. However, if you don’t know the language, it is helpful to keep a translation on your phone and show the waiters so they understand.
- Use Happy Cow to find vegan restaurants. This website is life-saving for anyone who is vegan or vegetarian! You can look up vegan or vegetarian options in almost all major cities.
- Accept that you may unintentionally eat something non-vegan. As I said previously, I did my absolute best to eat fully vegan, however I’m pretty sure there was probably some egg in my pasta or anchovies in my sauce. At the end of the day, you ultimately have to eat and nourish your body. Just do your best!
I hope these tips were helpful! Even if you’re not vegan, you can still use these tips to stay healthy while you travel!