Sometimes it's tough to find even one healthy meal while traveling, let alone 8 ways to eat vegetarian on the road. It might be a challenge, but it can certainly be done, and a few strategic tips and tricks can help plant-based eaters everywhere find suitable foods when they're far from home.
8 Tips to Eat Vegetarian on the Go
There are more than 8 ways to eat vegetarian on the road, but the following methods are a good place to start.
1. Seek the Salads
Fast-food restaurants and roadside diners aren't exactly overflowing with vegetarian options, but almost all of them have some veggie items on their menus, particularly salads. If not, try asking the server or cashier if you can order a custom salad that combines ingredients listed for other menu items. Most restaurants try to be accommodating toward potential customers, and in many cases, it won't be a problem for workers to fix something meat-free that isn't on the regular menu.
2. Go to Grocery Stores
Going grocery shopping can be a pain even when you're at home, but at least you're sure to find things you can eat at the store. Take that errand on the road with you by frequenting local grocery stores whenever you travel. If you can find health-food stores, you're likely to encounter an even better selection of tasty treats. By grocery shopping, you'll be able to load up on snacks, find prepared options, and save extra money you'd otherwise spend on meals at pricier places.
3. Research Vegetarian Options at Your Destination
The few days and hours before leaving for a trip are almost always hectic, but preparing and packing ahead of time can pay off in a big way. Before you go, take time to research your destination and investigate the towns you'll pass through on the way. If you can find out where the veggie-friendly places are before you leave, you'll save time when you arrive and enjoy your meals more. HappyCow.net is one especially valuable resource that showcases a worldwide directory of vegetarian- and vegan-friendly restaurants and stores.
4. Pack Your Own Food
It's easier to pack meals and snacks if you're only going to be gone for a day or two, but packing some food is possible even if you'll be away for months. Fill a small bag or backpack with meat-free munchies, ideally those that are nonperishable. Try granola bars, trail mix, fruit leathers, pieces of fresh fruit, granola, crackers, pita bread, dry cereal, or breakfast bars. For shorter jaunts, such as plane flights or afternoon road trips, pack hardy food that is fresher but can go without refrigeration for a few hours, such as hard-boiled eggs, sliced veggies, or sticks of string cheese.
5. Ask Where to Find Vegetarian Meals
You're not likely to find much vegetarian fare in an unfamiliar place if you're not willing to ask for some help. Local residents almost always know where vegans and vegetarians could find a good meal, so don't be afraid to explain your predicament and ask for recommendations. If you end up somewhere like a steakhouse or a meat-heavy buffet at a catered event, pull a server aside and ask if a vegetarian option is available. It's worth a try, and you'll often get a better meal as a result.
6. Go to Farmers' Markets
Many big cities in the United States and abroad have year-round farmers' markets that feature fresh, seasonal items. If you have access to a kitchen during your travels, the markets are great places to pick up ingredients and seasonings. Even if you can't get to cooking facilities, the fresh fruits and goods available at summer and early-autumn markets are excellent to eat out of hand and take with you as snacks. Additionally, farmers' market vendors are tuned into their areas' local food scenes, so they may be able to offer more helpful recommendations for where to find vegetarian food.
7. Keep a Travel Guide
Most people only purchase travel guides if they're heading to major tourist destinations, but for vegetarians, buying a guide for regions closer to home can be a smart move. Travel guides are designed to cater to a broad range of people who follow different diets and have a wide variety of food preferences, so they often point out restaurants or cafes in an area that offer vegetarian options. Keeping a countrywide travel guide with you when you hit the road can help if you end up in an unfamiliar city and aren't sure where the best place to eat might be.
8. Eat Something!
Even if your options are limited, it's better to eat something paltry than eat nothing at all. Traveling is taxing and takes up a lot of energy, so it's important to get a constant supply of calories and nutrients while on the road to keep up with the grueling pace. A side salad and baked potato or bag of cheese crackers from a vending machine may not seem desirable, but they will boost your blood sugar and metabolism and tide you over until you can find something more satisfying to eat.
You Will Find Vegetarian Options on the Road
With all of these tips at your disposal, you'll surely be able to stick with a vegetarian diet regardless of where your travels take you. Just plan ahead as much as possible, and you'll have plenty of dining options.