With any luck, we'll all be heading out soon for summer vacation, and I hope yours will be wonderful! When I was still getting the plant-based lifestyle down, traveling created some anxiety. I had successfully built a structured environment at home, where I had a system of finding the best whole, plant foods and eliminating all animal protein. Taking this on the road meant less predictability, but I found it was easy to travel with my diet. Here are some tips so you too can have a healthy, veggie-rich vacation.
5. Do Some Research
One of the best places to start is pull up your travel destination on Google Maps and look for nearby vegan/vegetarian restaurants, farmers' markets, natural food stores, and, probably our biggest beacons for plant-based diet-friendly food, Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. Other national chains offer great salad options like Subway, Chipolte, Chop't, and Chickpea. Just be sure to look menu items up online to be sure they are as healthy as they sound. Use vinegar options over dressings which commercially have a lot of oil and often hidden dairy. If you are traveling by car and can't find something close by, you might have luck looking at areas you will be driving through. One time, my family and I drove a bit out of the way on the way back from a day trip to eat at raw restaurant we found in Pennsylvania. Our experience there became a highlight of the whole trip!
4. Pack Some Raw Staples
Fruit keeps well and some even have natural packaging such as bananas and oranges. Fresh fruit, dried fruit, raw, crunchy veggies like baby carrots, cauliflower, celery, zucchini, and broccoli, while ideally could be stored in a cooler, will make it just fine without and offer you a ton of nutrients. Avocados are really satisfying and thrive in warm weather. Note: I limit my intake to 1 whole small avocado, or 1/2 medium avocado per day due to the high content of healthy fat. Other vegan snacks like nuts, raw bars like Larabars, trail mix, coconut water, etc, are becoming more and more easy to find on the road, but you can also grab those too.
3. Consider Supplements
If you are eating a lot of nutrient-rich foods, then there is no need to supplement with vitamins. (If you question this, please read a response to the vitamin question by Matthew Lederman, MD and Alona Pulde, MD and Dr. T. Colin Campbell.) But I do travel with the probiotics and magnesium oxide that I take daily for digestive support. I personally have a history with stomach pain due to poor digestion and have a difficult time digesting gluten. I find that using a plant-based digestive enzyme to boost digestion helps me a lot when I have less than fabulous food options.
At home, I typically start my day with a green smoothie, but those are harder to find and afford on the road. Leafy greens are a big part of my diet and can be surprisingly difficult for me to consume when I don't have access to a kitchen. So I make sure to get salads at restaurants and snack on raw veggies. I also supplement with chlorella tablets, which is a temporary way to get a lot of minerals and chlorophyll into your diet, as leafy greens provide.
2. Start the Day with Hot Water and Lemon and Drink Plenty of Water
Lemon is a natural cleaner, detoxifying internal organs, and often times provides a nice, gentle morning cleanse. Healthy mornings lead to the best days, so if it is drinking plenty of fresh water, doing some yoga poses, going out on the beach for a long walk or a run, or a meditation, any health-focused activity in those morning hours will get you off to a good start. If you ever feel like your vacation is taking you off path in a way that makes you uncomfortable, try focusing on your breathing. Once you cool off your nervous system, grab for some water and keep hydrated. It's amazing what water does for you. And you can always add lemon to cool water too to cleanse all day long.
1. Be Happy, Be on Vacation!
Perfection is not always possible. Vegetarian options, and even vegan options are possible because there are a lot of people on these diets or have food allergies. I've been in areas where it made more sense to just say I have a dairy allergy and I think that's totally okay! It is more difficult to avoid oils, and even processed food to some extent. Don't beat yourself up. Eat a small salad before each meal if you can, start your day with hot water with lemon, a cleansing tea, or strive to eat only fruit until you are naturally hungry for lunch. A couple of good habits will go far to "correct" any not ideal options, or flat out conscious indulgences, which are also just fine! Focus your energy on time with family, taking a mental break, or that beautiful sunset, and I think you will find the food-stuff to fall nicely into place.
A bonus idea is to seek out travel destinations that are conducive to healthy living, such as yoga retreats, health retreats, spas, and nature resorts. It is also helpful to travel with like-minded people. Even if your family and friends don't define as being plant-based, if they are health interested or foodies, they will also be seeking out fresh, plant-based foods as at least a significant portion of their meal.
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Do you think these tips will help you on your summer adventures? Please let know how you are living plant-based in your travels in the comment area below or on Instagram and Twitter @forkfuloflove. Use #theforkfulway to tag any vacation photos showing off your healthy choices. Be the best you always! We're cheering for you!