Traveling Vegan and Sugar-Free: 5 Tips for Eating Healthy While Abroad by Robin M. Wilson

Updated: Jul 1, 2020

What do you do when you are vegan, sugar-free, and traveling? You plan and think ahead. Nowadays, there are vegan food options on restaurant menus and vegan desserts can be found at specialty bakeries. Still, sugar remains an ingredient in many foods. From ketchup to salad dressing, let’s face it, sugar is in nearly everything!

Before I became vegan and decided to cut added sugars from my diet, I’ll admit that I only thought about what might taste good on a menu and that left me with multiple options.

Now, as a sugar-free vegan, I find myself perusing restaurant menus in advance and, sometimes I make calls or send emails, to determine whether or not a restaurant will be added to my itinerary.

In most cases, I have discovered some excellent restaurants and markets that offer plant-based food options. Recently, I planned a one week trip to London and I was able to create a culinary lineup that would rival any foodies' excursion.

From learning the fine art of cooking Caribbean cuisine at a locals' house to experiencing vegan comfort food at the Le Pain Quotidien Bakery and Restaurant, there were no shortages of culinary discoveries on my journey. Here are some strategies that I used to stay healthy while traveling abroad:

1. Prepare and pack your snacks: Before you jet set to your next destination, buy or bake small snacks that you can enjoy on your trip. Use a food vacuum sealer to store and preserve your snacks. Some homemade sugar-free vegan foods that are ideal for travel include organic dry fonio with cinnamon and pumpkin seeds; air-popped popcorn with Himalayan salt; and cacao powder and dried peppermint leaves to make sugar free peppermint hot chocolate.

If you prefer to purchase your snacks, consider buying Lakanto Sugar Free Monk Fruit Chocolate bars, Monk fruit is a natural sweetener and the bars are delicious. Humble Hands Bakery and Crafts is another option, They make made-to-order baked goods from all organic ingredients. They offer sugar-free and vegan desserts options too.

2. Stay at an Airbnb: If you can find an Airbnb with kitchen access, you can save on your accommodations and dining out through meal prep. The key is to plan ahead by creating a small grocery list of food items for dishes that require minimal prep time. Two ingredient soups, tubers like sweet potatoes, and vegetables like collard greens and bok choy that only take a few minutes to make on the stovetop may be good options for your meal prep.

3. Locate the nearest market: In many European countries, open markets are commonplace and these food havens can mean healthy eating and cash savings for savvy travelers. For example, in London, The Borough Market is a vibrant marketplace that offers locals and visitors alike locally sourced and organic produce. There are shops and vendors with daily deals on specialty items and, if you want to save on time, you can shop for your food online and pick up your order at the marketplace checkpoint. Also, make sure that you pack a small to medium-sized cloth bag for your groceries because it will help you blend in with the locals and it could help you save money, as many overseas food markets charge you a few extra cents for plastic bags. So, the next time you travel, research nearby markets that you can visit during your stay.

4. Research local vegan restaurants: The number of vegans and vegetarians are on the rise and so are vegan restaurants. Increasingly, there is more diversity among vegan restaurants, too. There is vegan soul food, Thai food, and vegan Indian food.

In places like London, the diversity among vegan cuisine is as numerous as the diversity of the people who live there. Thus, if you are planning a trip to London or somewhere similar, you will have several options for your vegan delight.

For example, Tracks and Records is a Caribbean restaurant located in East London that offers vegan and vegetarian options. If you're feeling a bit more laid back and want to grab something on the go, you might want to try vegan street vendor food at Vegetarian & Vegan Traditional Gujarati & Indian Street Food. Their food is delicious and freshly prepared on a grill. Whatever you decide, there is guaranteed to be something to fit your taste.

5. Join a cooking class: If you are adventurous and enjoy connecting with people over food, consider signing up for a cooking class. The experience will allow you to learn how to make a new dish while meeting new people on your trip. Many hosts will offer a vegan option, especially if you inquire in advance. By participating in a cooking class, it also gives you control over what ingredients go into your food.

During my trip to London, I discovered an affordable Caribbean cooking class on Airbnb's website that offered a vegan option. This is a great way to learn about experiences that you can have in the cities that you plan to travel to.

When you are vegan, sugar free, and traveling, you can have your cake and eat it, too. You simply have to know how to create a healthy experience that best serves you.

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