Updated: Jan 1, 2020
So you are going to travel abroad and you are vegan. Nervous? Don’t be. Every trip i’ve taken I have been a meatless eater and have had plenty to eat. So trust me it’s not hard, you just have to make sure you are confident and be ready to explain what you want. In my experience, one way to have easy accommodations was typically when I stayed in hotels or resorts. Although what if you are like me and husband and you love to explore what the locals do, we have some tips for making sure the places that are outside the resort have at least one option. So check out our tips below and you'll sure to be ready for your next adventure.
1.Check out the menus
Almost every place will have their menus posted. It will either be online or on their door, but it will be there. This is the easiest way to find out what you can eat or how to make modifications. While I was in Puerto Rico for most of the places we ate out I had to skim the menu and figure out how to modify and create my plate. Although for other places I just ordered what I needed without the meat. It's also best if you are traveling with a group to try to figure out what you want ahead of time so that when it is time for you to order you already know what you want and you can tell your waiter exactly what you want. This helps me a lot because sometimes I clam up while I'm reciting my order, it's a problem I know but it leads me to my next tip...
2. Be Confident
Sometimes you are going to have to take the cheese off of something or the meat off of a dish to make it your own. So don’t feel ashamed that you have make a change, you are at this restaurant to help support this business so you should get what you ask for. I had a hard time with this at first because I thought the waiters were not going to do what I asked or give me a look. Though when the food came out the way I asked and the waiters didn't give me a glare I realized it was all in my head.
3. Be courteous
So yes you should be confident and honest about what you are ordering but be a human to the other servers, don’t demand, just say “I would like to order this, without the meat and cheese please.” This goes over a lot better than “I WANT THIS SANDWICH with no MEAT OR CHEESE I AM A VEGAN.” Most times the waiters have been in multiple situations where someone couldn’t eat exactly what was on the menu. Also most waiters will want to serve you as best as possible because they want your business. So give our waiters the respect they deserve.
4. If you can’t find anything that is super easy to modify, Ask
While we were in Puerto Rico we ate one of our favorite dishes Mofongo. This dish is made all over the island, although the first restaurant we went to showed all the options for mofongo came with meat, because this is how it is traditionally made. So instead of just guessing that we couldn’t eat our favorite dish we asked the waitress if we could have ours without meat, and to our surprise we were not only able to have the dish vegan but with a lovely tomato sauce on top. Asking her was simple and gave us the best outcome.
5. When in doubt A La carte the sides menu
Now I'm sure you've had a situation where there was nothing on the mains for your dinner so you opted for the sides. This can be true sometimes when traveling as well. But don't make this difficult with most sides you can create your own unique vegan plate, probably for a little less as well. Also honestly sometimes just picking off the sides menu is just easier. So when in doubt A La Carte.
So now that you know how order, here are some of the foods that I ate recently in Puerto Rico.
First up Vegan Mofongo. This dish is made with mashed green plantains and garlic. It is the national dish of PR and it's really delicious, trust me. If this is an option on your menu make sure that you ask for this without meat. Typically this dish is made with meat inside and a broth on top made from meat so ask for it with mixed vegetables if possible. This dish was definitely filling just on it's own so make sure to ask about the serving size. (Bonus: If this looks appetizing to you here, check out our Vegan Mofongo made at home)
For my side I added some rice and beans, once again very filling. This is another dish that is traditionally made with meat inside, so once again make sure to ensure that there is no meat in this dish.
The next day we took a tour of Old San Juan, and had a nice lunch with a incredibly simple eggplant sandwich. This was filling and had a nice seasoning. This meal originally came with cheese on it but we subbed it out to create this filling and delicious masterpiece.
For dessert, we had Caramel Almond Brittle Dairy free ice cream from Ben and Jerry's. It was really good, sweet and tasted just like the milk products I used to enjoy. I would highly recommend if your Ben and Jerry's sells it near you.
So as you can see it's very easy to eat vegan in other places, you just have to be direct or maybe check out the sides menu. Though all in all you shouldn't have much of a problem. Just remember: Be Confident, Courteous, Know your order and peek at those sides!
Until next post,