I've been having a lot of fun on book tour this summer with my mother for Ageless Vegan. We love spreading the message about what a healthy vegan lifestyle for 30 years can be like!
And even more, we LOVE that we've had a chance to meet many of you in person, answer your questions, and encourage you on your own vegan journeys. You truly inspire us and we hope we're doing the same for you.
One of the questions we've been asked about often is how to eat healthfully while traveling. And we know for ourselves that this a real concern. It can be pretty easy to go astray because of not enough - or so many - vegan options, depending on the city you're in.
I personally went a little crazy in Seattle with a vegan restaurant, a vegan donut shop and a vegan ice cream shop all within 4 blocks of each other. It was delish, but I definitely overdid it that day.
And to keep myself on track, I have some simple guidelines I follow that may help you, too. Here are my 8 steps to eating vegan and healthy when you travel:
1) Scope out vegan restaurants in advance - I don't go anywhere without checking Happy Cow first. It has the largest listing of veg restaurants anywhere in the world. For example, when I went to Japan last year, I checked Happy Cow and was blown away to find that Tokyo has more vegan restaurants than LA - who knew! (Happy Cow, that's who!) So before you leave for your trip - whether national or international - check out Happy Cow to find vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants, as well as any health food stores. And go a step further by checking out the restaurant's website, menu, hours, and current reviews. And if you're unsure about anything, just call or email them and ask. And be sure to download the Happy Cow app on your phone to make it easier while you're out and about.
2) Bring your own food to the airport - I always bring my own food with me on the plane, whether it's a national or international trip. That way, I won't be tempted to grab sugary or salty snacks at the airport. The length of the flight determines how much food I'll bring. For our book tour, I usually bring a wrap or sandwich, along with fruit, nuts, and crackers. For longer flights, click here to watch a video about what I brought for my 14-hour flight to Tokyo last year.
3) Bring fresh fruit and nuts for the hotel - I also bring enough fruit and nuts not just to eat on the plane, but to have with me at the hotel to snack on during my stay. This could include apples, grapes, bananas, dates, walnuts, cashews or almonds. Having these on hand helps me stay in control of my hunger during my trip, when my eating times can be unpredictable.
4) Bring powdered greens - Because eating dark leafy greens twice a day is a central part of what keeps me healthy and well-nourished at home, I want to eat this way when I travel, too. But that's not always possible, so I take packets of powdered wheat grass or dark leafy greens with me and drink it with water every morning. That way, I know I'm getting these vital nutrients I need each day.
5) Drink lots of water - Because you're likely to be out and about more than usual while traveling, it's easy to forget to drink enough water. But it's essential that we stay hydrated - in addition to getting all the other health benefits that drinking water imparts - so be sure to carry a portable and sustainable water bottle with you and drink up. And consider purchasing a gallon or two of water from a local store to keep in your hotel room, as well.
6) Control your portion sizes - If you're eating out at restaurants, portion sizes are typically much larger than what you'd cook at home. So to combat this, you might try having smaller appetizers or sides for lunch and dinner. Or asking for a takeout box when your food comes and putting 1/3 to 1/2 in the box before you start eating. Or if you eat heavily for one meal, eating lighter at the next meal. Also, avoid using travel as a reason to let loose and overindulge. Once or twice may be okay, but making this a habit on trips is not healthy in the short or long run.
7) Save dessert for once or twice - And the same goes with dessert - having a dessert or two while you're away is okay, but it's best not to make a habit of ordering it after lunch or dinner just because you can.
8) Eat well right away when you get home - If you find that you've indulged in heavier foods, larger portion sizes, and/or more fat, salt and sugar while you were away, be aware that your taste buds may have gotten used to the taste - causing you to want to continue eating this way when you get home. To stop those cravings and quickly reset your taste buds, start eating healthy foods again right away - including lots of fresh dark leafy vegetables and fresh fruit, and drinking plenty of water.
So there you have it, fam. Here's to safe, healthy, and happy travels!
If you have some more tips to share on how to eat vegan and healthy when you travel, leave a comment below. We'd love to hear from you.