“You’re going to Europe and you’re NOT going to eat a croissant? ARE YOU CRAZY?”. This is what a lot of people said when I told them that I would be traveling with my boyfriend Kenny for 11 weeks throughout England, France, Italy, Spain, and Ireland. I had SO many people thinki that it was impossible or at least going to be extremely difficult in order to be vegan on the other side of world. Now that I’ve returned (and didn’t die from malnutrition or lack of protein) I can confidently say that being vegan in Europe is easier than you might think!
Some places I traveled to were much easier than others, so I’ve decided to talk a little bit about what I packed that came in handy, my top tips, and how easy it was to be vegan in each place we went. I was not traveling for food, but rather to experience new places, cultures, and sites that I had always dreamed of going to. I made my own food a lot and didn’t feel the need to try every vegan restaurant in every town that we went. The foods I made for myself on a regular basis consisted of: oatmeal, sandwiches, pasta, curry, potato dishes, fried rice, and salads. I know that traveling while vegan may seem a bit daunting
but I’m here to help show you just how simple it can be.
THINGS I PACKED:
I don’t regularly use protein powderin my diet and I genuinely believe you can get more than enough protein while living a vegan lifestyle. However, I wasn’t sure how available some of my usual vegan staples would be so I decided to pack a bag of protein powder just to be safe. I ended up putting a little bit in my
oatmeal each morning to ensure that I wouldn’t be protein deficient while traveling around. Another item me and Kenny packed ahead was granola bars; Clif Bars to be exact. These were super easy to hold us over between meals so we didn’t end up wandering aimlessly looking for food. The third food item I brought along was reusable Stasher bags. These bad boys were perfect for packing sandwiches, trail mix, or dried fruit. Whenever I found a bulk section at a store, I made sure to fill up my bags so I would have snacks for the coming days. Lastly, I brought a small Tupperware.Not only did I use this to make overnight oats and carry around more delicate fruits, but it also was a great way to save leftovers if we were staying somewhere for a few nights!
There were countless lessons I learned while long term traveling but I’ll keep it short and sweet for this blog post. Some of my tops tips for how to be vegan while traveling in Western Europe, without having to eat out at expensive vegan restaurants for every meal:
Plan ahead:sounds simple but it is so true! One item that isn’t very prevalent in many towns was being able to find granola bars. Sure, every grocery store maybe had one box, but 97% of the time they weren’t vegan and were essentially a candy bar with some oatmeal mixed in. That being said, I made it my mission when I was in some of the major/ more vegan friendly cities to find a local health food store. It was here that I was able to find a plethora of vegan granola bars, protein bars, and really any vegan goodie that I couldn’t find in smaller towns.
Fruit is your friend:cheap, delicious, healthy, and vegan?! Fruit was and is abundant in all of the places I traveled in Europe. I found it most helpful to get fruits that would travel well; bananas, apples, really anything with a skin on it. When I opted for more ‘delicate’ fruits I made sure to bring along my Tupperware to store it in.
Look for vegetarian options:When I was in smaller towns it was nearly impossible to find a fully vegan item on the menu. Instead I searched for any vegetarian options that were on the menu; veggie pizza, veggie pasta, bruschetta, etc. I then just ordered these items without cheese and waalaa, a vegan meal was made.
Learn the language: No, I am not fluent in Spanish, French, or Italian. However, before traveling I did my best to learn how to ask if something was vegan, request a change, and learn words like “vegan, milk, meat, fish, eggs” so that I could communicate with those serving my food. I also downloaded each of these languages in Google Translate so that I could quickly type up what I was trying to say, as well as translate any package ingredients to make sure it was vegan. (BONUS: when you download the language, you can effectively use the app even if you don’t have an international phone plan)
As I said earlier, some places were far easier to find vegan food. We traveled to many places, ranging from tiny towns to some of biggest cities in Europe. I decided to share a bit about each place we went, how easy it was to be vegan on a scale of 1-5 (1 being SUPER EASY and 5 being SO DIFFICULT I JUST ATE BREAD), and the top tip learned from that place.
ENGLAND: London, 1
Our first stop was in London and it was one of (if not the most) vegan friendly city I’ve ever been to. It seemed like around every corner was another vegan/vegetarian restaurant and even non-vegan restaurants had plenty of vegan options. Every grocery store and supermarket had a plethora of vegan goodies, treats, nut milks, you name it!
TOP TIP: If you’re traveling throughout Europe, and are taking trains/ buses instead of flying, buy peanut butter in the big cities and bring it with you. It was nearly impossible to find it in some smaller towns so I suggest stocking up on it when you do find it. *Don’t make my mistake and forget that you can’t fly with it only to have TSA throw away 2 containers…also, it is shockingly expensive in Europe so buying it in a bigger city will save some money too.
FRANCE: Paris, 1
Ahhh the city of love! Paris was so delightfully vegan that even I was surprised by how much it had to offer. Kenny isn’t vegan, so at first I was just watching him enjoy every type of French pastry. However, the grocery stores had a plethora of vegan food. Food in Paris can be quite expensive (especially vegan restaurant) so I stuck to picnics full of fresh bread, vegan cheeses, hummus, fruit, and veggies…oh and plenty of cheap delicious wine.
TOP TIP:If you’re in Paris you I HIGHLY recommend that you go to Cloud Cakes Vegan Restaurant and Bakery!It was pretty reasonably priced and it was here that I was able to find croissants, macaroons, and meringue; all vegan and all delicious!
FRANCE: Nantua, French Countryside, 3
After the hustle and bustle of the big city, I traveled to a teeny tiny town in the French Countryside where we stayed in the only Airbnb that the town had. I wasn’t surprised to find that there were little to no vegan options at the town’s two restaurants. However, it was still easy to buy groceries to make a fully vegan meal as well as a vegan picnic.
TOP TIP:This is where I began to discover how easy it was to turn a vegetarian option into a vegan one. First place I ordered a vegetarian pizza, loaded with veggies, without the cheese. Sure, you may get a few strange looks but as long as you ask nicely most places are more than willing to accommodate!
FRANCE: Chamonix, French Alps, 3
A little mountain town located at the base of Mount Blanc; gorgeous, quaint, and a bit difficult to find solid vegan food. This was another place that cooking our own meals came in handy.
TOP TIP:Leaving here we had a many hour journey (1 bus, 2 metros, and then 1 train) to our next destination. Rather than only having granola bars for the journey, I cut up plenty of veggies, cooked some potatoes, and bought hummus to hold me over.
ITALY: Lake Como, 2
Being a rather touristy place, Lake Como’s grocery stores had an entire vegan/ vegetarian section. As nice as it is to continually eat out or make your own food, sometimes you just want something quick and easy. In general, I found many European cities to have far more vegan options in their supermarkets than in the USA.
TOP TIP:When in doubt buy a pre-made dish. It might not be the tastiest food you’ve ever had, but almost every store carried some sort of premade vegan dish; cous cous salad, farro salad, rice bowl with beans…you get the picture.
ITALY: Venice, 2
For being a touristy city, I was surprised at how few vegan/ vegetarian restaurants Venice had. However, many places did clearly label on their menus which meals were vegan or contained milk, fish, meat and/or eggs. But what about gelato?!
TOP TIP:Practically every gelato shop has vegan options! Many have a plethora or sorbets labeled as vegan. But, if you’re like me you probably want something that is chocolate flavored. Especially in the more touristy cities, shops have a flavor called Cioccolato Fondente which means “dark chocolate”. Always ask to double check but this rich and decadent flavor is usually vegan, made with soy milk (woohoo)!
ITALY: Pompeii & Mount Vesuvius, 4
If you’re staying in the town Naples, just outside of Pompeii, I would probably give it a ranking of a 5…it was that difficult. However, the actual city of Pompeii did have a vegan croissant in the food court so I guess I’ll give it a 4 for that reason alone.
TOP TIP:Always, always, always bring food with you. PB & J sandwiches may become your new best friend
ITALY: Rome, 1
When traveling you tend to walk A LOT! Because Rome is another huge tourist destination that means there was more sorbetto flavors than practically any other place. As lovely as pasta and pizza are, I found myself craving something else for my meals when we were out and about.
TOP TIP:Order a bruschetta for lunch or dinner; toasted bread with olive oil, topped with a plethora of fresh tomatoes, onions, and basil. Sure, your breath might not smell great but it’s usually a fair amount of food for the price.
ITALY: Tuscany, 4
When traveling to smaller towns it was inevitably harder to find vegan food. I found myself eating out less, packing lots of snacks, and cooking for myself as much as possible.
TOP TIP:In the long run is sometimes cheaper to book a more expensive Airbnb or Hostel. Find one that has a good kitchen and is near a grocery store. You’ll save money on food by cooking for yourself than if you were to rent an expensive place but had to eat out for every meal. My go to dinner while traveling was rice with curry
SPAIN: Barcelona, 1
This place is what vegan dreams are made of! I was delighted to find quite a few package free zero-waste shops; the perfect place to fill up on snacks. While here Kenny and I also went on a tapas tour. I assumed that I would drink at the bars but just give my tapas to Kenny since they probably wouldn’t be vegan…boy was I wrong. I asked the tour guide ahead of time and they were able to provide me with vegan tapas AT EVERY PLACE WE WENT! Also, if you’re in Barcelona I highly recommend you check out Taberna Blai Tonight, full of incredible vegetarian and vegan tapas.
TOP TIP:Don’t be afraid to ask your tour guide, bartender, or server what the vegan options are. You may be looking at a vegan dish and not even realize it’s vegan!
SPAIN: Valencia, 1
I was thankful to get to spend time with family I have that lives in Valencia which made finding vegan food even easier. I was also amazed at the sheer number of vegan restaurants this town had. My favorite place was actually a local coffee shop called Beat Brew Bar.
TOP TIP:Ask a local where their favorite vegan places are. I had someone in another vegan restaurant recommend this place to me and it was absolutely divine.
IRELAND: Galway & Clifden, 3
What does a vegan eat in Ireland? More than just potatoes and beer! Galway actually had a few fully vegan restaurants and many other places we went had vegan options available. However, in the more traditional Irish pubs it was a bit hard to find vegan options. I most certainly had some fries with beer to hold me over until I found a more substantial option.
TOP TIP:If you can, check the menu before hand that way you are blindsided when you discover there aren’t any vegan options at that restaurant.
All in all, being vegan while traveling Europe truly was not that difficult. Then again, I’ve been vegan for about 3 years so I’m quite comfortable and familiar with figuring out what to eat when I’m traveling. Being vegan in a foreign place is always going to be a bit of an adventure but I look at it as a way to try vegan food I normally wouldn’t have had at home. It was also encouraging to find vegan treats in some of the smaller towns, seeing how this lifestyle is continually growing as time goes on. Traveling was also a way for me to talk to plenty of other individuals who were interested in why I choose to live a vegan lifestyle. I never once encountered anyone who shamed me or made me feel bad about my decisions and if anything, I was happy to share my views while breaking the “mean vegan” stereotype some of them once held. Remember that we are all human, we are all on our own journey, and my goal is NEVER to make non-vegans feel bad about what they eat. I choose to lead by example, answer any questions they may have, and show others that you can travel Europe as a vegan and still have one hell of a good time!
A few years ago a trip like this would have been immensely difficult for me due to my poor relationship with food. I would have been constantly over thinking and worried about what I was eating, if it was healthy enough, enough I could workout that day. But after healing my relationship with myself, this trip was absolutely amazing. If your limiting beliefs are holding you back from achieving food freedom and living in the moment, I'm here to help YOU! Let's chat, because you deserve to achieve the healthy and happy lifestyle you've been craving. Click HERE to schedule a connection call with me and learn how I can help you reach your peak!