For most of us, one of the highlights of travel is exploring the unfamiliar yet exciting flavors of a new cuisine. That's no less true for me, though as a vegan (I do not eat meat, eggs, or dairy), I used to feel apprehensive about finding foods that fit into my diet when traveling. However, I have found that with a little preparation, it's easy to find veg-friendly fare wherever I go! Here are some of my tips for traveling vegetarians, vegans, flexitarians, those with food allergies, or anyone with a particular dietary requirement:
Let your travel specialist know about your diet in advance – they can make specific recommendations and notify your guides and hotels ahead of time. Some countries, such as India, are a vegetarian's dream come true, while others can prove more challenging. The trip will be much smoother if everyone knows about your dietary needs in advance.
Be sure to order the special meal for your international flight at least 72 hours in advance. As a bonus, special meals almost always get served first, leaving you more time to sleep or enjoy the George Clooney flick! I also carry snacks such as nutrition bars and trail mix so I don’t need to rely on the salty, heavily processed snacks that airlines hand out.
The lavish breakfast buffets offered by most five-star properties make it simple to start the day right. It is a good opportunity to sample fresh local fruit – the dragonfruit in Southeast Asia became a personal favorite on my recent trip – along with some warm cereal with nuts for protein.
Many of the finest restaurants in foreign cities are actually located in the better hotels. They are accustomed to satisfying the special requests of their international guests. Let them know yours when you make your reservation so they have time to prepare something truly special. Who knows? You may even get a dish named after you!When exploring local restaurants on your own, ask your guide to write down a few key phrases in the local language that you can show your server. Also, pre-printed cards in a variety of languages are available for vegetarians and those with food allergies at www.selectwisely.com.
Finally, relax and enjoy! Often, processed foods are less common in developing countries and there is more emphasis on fresh food prepared to order. Many exquisite feasts await you!
– Holly Monahan, Luxury Travel Manager and Certified Holistic Health Counselor