10 Tips For Sticking with a Plant-Based, Whole Foods Diet While On The Road

Photo by Dino Reichmuth on Unsplash

Are you planning an epic road trip this summer? Are you visiting a new city, or perhaps even a new country? If eating healthy is a top priority for you, the idea of traveling to a new place may cause some anxiety. But try not to worry, you don't have to say au revoir to your healthy habits just because you're on the go. We've got 10 tips to help you stay on a plant-based, whole foods diet while out adventuring.

1. A little planning goes a long way

It's true, certain destinations are far more health-friendly than others. Do yourself a huge favor and do a little research before you head out on your adventure. Make a list in Notes on your phone of health food stores and veg-friendly restaurants so you don't feel like you're headed into uncharted territory without a plan. Utilize Yelp or HappyCow - these are two great resources to help you narrow down the best options.

2. Get social

Nobody knows the hidden gems of a city like the locals. Utilize social media to connect with the people living a healthy lifestyle who are living in the place you'll be traveling to. You can look up state-specific Facebook groups for vegans, vegetarians, or those following a plant-based lifestyle and post questions or use the search feature to connect with people directly.

Instagram offers another opportunity. Try using hashtags to search for veg-friendly food in specific cities, i.e #VeganAtlanta, #VeganInParis or #PlantBasedHawaii - you get the picture. You can click on your hashtag search results to see if any plant-based restaurants or shops were tagged in those photos.

3. Fly happy (not hungry)

Will you be flying somewhere epic this summer? Whatever you do, don't get stuck in an airport that offers zero healthy, plant-based options. While many airports are evolving into healthier territory these days, there are plenty still a bit behind the times. Whatever you do, don’t get stuck in an airport ravenously hungry with nothing to eat! Try using an airport guide like this one here from PETA that goes over the best plant-based options in some of the major US airports.

If you won't be flying into (or out) of a veg-friendly airport, be sure to pack something for yourself ahead of time. While liquids are a no-go through TSA security, you can definitely pack plenty of snacks to eat while you're in-flight, or while you're waiting. Speaking of snacks...

4. Snacks, Snacks, Snacks!

Every plant-loving travel pro will tell you: there is no such thing as too many snacks. Pack plenty! If you don't let yourself get hungry you won't be tempted to eat something that may make you feel less than stellar.

Here are a few awesome whole food plant-based snack options that are perfect for travel:

* Raw nuts and seeds such as cashews, almonds, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds or even probiotic enhanced sprouted almonds

* Raw nut butter like almond, coconut, or cashew or sprouted pumpkin seed by Dastony are awesome options.

* Raw Chocolate Bars - energizing, nutrient-rich, and great for when that sweet tooth strikes. Rawmio makes gourmet Raw Chocolate Barks and low-sugar Essentials Bars which are perfect for travel. Or try Sunbiotics Chocolate for a raw chocolate treat loaded with gut-healthy probiotics to support digestions while you travel.

* Fresh and dried fruits - pick options that are hardy and don't require refrigeration like apples, bananas, oranges, dried apricots, goji berries, goldenberries, mulberries, and medjool dates.

* Fresh veggies like celery sticks, carrot sticks, and snap peas. Great paired with raw nut butter!

* Kale chips. Highly addictive, satisfying and super nutrient dense! It's a win.

* Your favorite plant-based, gluten-free crackers - there are so many good ones these days but we love Simple Mills, Jillz and Mary's Gone Crackers

5. Navigate that menu like a boss

With a bit of planning, finding veg-friendly spots is definitely possible. However, for those times you find yourself out with friends at a non-veg-friendly restaurant - stay calm - you'll likely still be able to find options.

If you're able to look up the menu beforehand, this can be helpful so you know what you're getting yourself into. Look for words like ”steamed” "baked" and “grilled” which are helpful if you're trying to avoid fried foods that may be fried in the same oil as meat products.

Curious if something on the menu is vegan? Just ask! Don't be afraid to ask your server questions. Be friendly and make sure you express your gratitude for their help. Remember, not everyone knows what the term "vegan" is, so be sure to specify no animal products, and you can even get even more specific by saying "no dairy" or "no eggs".

6. Know what to say (in the right language)

Traveling somewhere foreign where English isn't the first language? Do a little extra prep work by learning some key phrases that you can use when communicating with staff at restaurants and/or shops about your dietary needs. Learning just a few helpful vegan phrases in the country’s native language can make ordering food easier. For instance, learning phrases like "I am vegan" or "no eggs" "no meat" etc.

7. Prep your own food

If you'll be staying in a hotel or Airbnb, make sure that the place comes equipped with a kitchen or kitchenette and mini fridge so you can both prepare your own food, and keep some supplies of your own. This is super helpful for those times when you need a break from restaurants or prefer keeping a few of your own perishables on hand.

8. Bring tools
 
There are plenty of awesome travel-friendly appliances these days that can be very helpful in sticking with a healthy routine. Do you normally make smoothies every day, and love how they make you feel? Consider investing in a little bullet-style blender to whip up a fresh smoothie in your kitchenette. Can't imagine not having your matcha latte every morning? Bring your own electric kettle so you can heat up water without a stove, and bring an electric frother wand for that perfect foam. Having a small, lightweight cutting board or mat is also super handy for food prep, as well as a small knife to cut fruits and veg on the fly. Stashing some re-usable utensils in a backpack is convenient and also way more eco-friendly!
 
9. Superfoods are your friends
 
No matter how much planning we do, odds are while traveling they'll be some compromises here and there. Often times there's a tendency to eat more packaged foods for convenience and less fresh fruits and veggies. Especially when camping. Superfoods to the rescue! Try bringing your favorite superfoods like cacao, goji berries, maca, spirulina or chlorella, or your favorite green superfood powder mix to help shore you up a bit in the nutrient department. 

10. Don’t beat yourself up (we're serious)

Lastly but certainly not least, have a positive mindset, and whatever you do, don't beat yourself up. Traveling is a blessing and should be a fun, mind and heart expansive experience. Don't let food trip you up and cause unnecessary stress. There may come a time when you unknowingly eat something you normally wouldn't, or you're just straight up starving and need to eat anything to avoid turning into a hangry mess. It's okay. Move on. Don't let it ruin a fantastic summer adventure! Remember, eating a healthy diet is meant to help us feel our best and live life to the fullest, it's not about being perfect.