I follow lots of vegan bloggers who frequently travel. I run a vegan blog. I’ve travelled many times. Am I an expert at travelling as a vegan? Hell no!
I fly to the west coast, more specifically Vancouver, a few times a year. My childhood best friend lives out there and I love to visit her as often as I can. I’m also low key obsessed with the mountains.
My most recent trip was a bit different – it was my first since going vegan. I’d travelled out west with Kat before, but this was my first time navigating its vegan options on my own. I had to read snack labels at in the airport and scope out vegan items in unfamiliar grocery stores, all along-side my non-vegan friends. Part of me felt pressure to leave a good impression by cooking delicious vegan food (aka cauliflower wings). Another part didn’t want to be a burden. Here’s how I handled the various scenarios of my newbie vegan west coast escapades.
Snacks on a Plane
Well, there’s always nuts. And protein bars. Oh, and there goes all my cash. A travel problem not unique to vegan travellers; everyone gets robbed by the prices of airport sustenance. It’s a scientific fact. When you’re vegan there’s the added challenge of options, or lack thereof. Responsible travellers like myself (sometimes), plan ahead. I like to pick up snacks at the bulk food store because I can put them into more travel friendly containers. Remember to keep in mind any restrictions airline security may have on what you can bring. This list covers some of the typical snacking suspects. I’d approach the produce with caution, especially if you’re travelling internationally.
Oh, and just a side note – I don’t care how early in the morning it is or how delirious you feel from only getting 3 hours of sleep, don’t buy oatmeal at the airport. It’s not going to taste good. Trust me.
I’m fortunate enough to always have a place to stay when I visit the west coast, which means there’s a full kitchen at my disposal. However, they aren’t vegan. It’s not a big deal, we get along fine despite our different lifestyles. When cooking I’m very careful not to get carried away. I plan meals that involve ingredients they already purchase and don’t require many special ingredients. Try to avoid buying in large quantities, you don’t want to leave your hosts with a fridge full of vegan food they’ll eventually throw out. I know it’s delicious on sandwiches and for ranch dip, but Veganiase isn’t available in travel size and chances are my hosts won’t touch it after I leave. Alas, I live without ranch to dip my cauliflower wings (I may or may not have gotten them hooked on cauliflower wings. Sorry not sorry).
To the Vegan Aisle
“Umm excuse me sir? Where are the vegan chick’n nuggets?”
I didn’t think grocery stores or products would be different on the west coast compared to Toronto, but I was wrong. The big-name stores were pretty much the same, but the budget friendly stores were different. I’ve become one of those people who find new grocery stores exciting (Katherine would be so proud). It’s a magical, over-air-conditioned, under-appreciated adventure. Your best bet for vegan finds in unfamiliar grocery stores are the produce and organic/health food aisles. I’d check out “health food” stores specifically, as you can often find the local vegan products. Two things I always search for; vegan cheese and kombucha. Although, I didn’t come across any new cheezes, but I am a huge fan of the west coast kombucha selection (high five BC).