One of the frequent questions I see here at Biogains is some variation of “How do I travel with non-vegans?” This is definitely something that I can relate to, as can most other vegans, I’d assume. We all probably have non-vegan friends, right? And whether we’re spending a day out of town or a week away in a new city, this is something that we’ve all likely wondered at one time or another.
Traveling with non-vegans can potentially be overwhelming, especially if you’re going to a place that you’re unfamiliar with. And especially if you’re going with a group of people who you’re not completely sure of – like perhaps a bachelor or bachelorette party. It’s always easier to travel with closer friends, but you shouldn’t avoid going out, having fun and exploring with a new group just because they’re not vegan.
In this post, I’m going to list the ways to ensure you can minimize any potential issues and maximize the amount of fun you’ll have when traveling with people who eat meat.
It Pays to Plan Ahead
If you’re going on a trip with a group of people that you’re uncertain of and/or to a destination that you’re not very familiar with, then it will definitely pay to do the research before you go. Try to find the bars, restaurants and events that are inclusive to your dietary restrictions while also having great options for those you’re traveling with. Discussing things before hand will make sure you’re on the same page and you’ll probably get a good feel as to how amenable people will be to your dietary restrictions.
In the best-case-scenario, you’ll be familiar enough with the person or group you’re traveling with to plan ahead and agree on places to go and things to do ahead of time. This will ensure the trip goes smoothly as everyone will depart with very clear expectations and you probably won’t just be winging it.
Worst case scenario, you’ll have a list of places that you know have vegan options ahead of time. But this is still a great position to be in, all things considered.
Take a Friend If You Can
Depending on the group you’re traveling with and the scenario you’re in, it could be a good idea to take one more person along – someone who is an ally, has the same dietary preferences as you or is willing to stick up for you if things do happen to go south. It never hurts to have someone else in your corner, if you can.
Having this type of person there will go a long way to avoiding any potential conflicts or pressuring that may occur. If worst comes to worst, you can split with the group for a meal or two and meet up later – but with a friend there, you’ll never be alone.
Set Expectations with the Planner
If you’re just going along for the ride, it’s a good idea to talk to the person who is hosting or planning the trip in order to ensure they’re aware of your expectations and desires. The more you can do to ensure the people going on the trip are on the same page as you, the easier everything will be when you’re traveling. And the more time you’ll have for fun when you’ve planned ahead.
The planner of the trip will likely be grateful to know ahead of time instead of after you’ve arrived. They will likely do a lot of planning before you depart, so the earlier you communicate with them, the better they’ll be able to accommodate you. And you can agree on plans far in advance.
Be Prepared to Roll with the Punches
The truth is that unless you’re traveling with people that you are very familiar and comfortable with, there will very likely be misunderstandings and miscommunications. Be prepared to roll with them and don’t let them disappoint you of affect your trip.
Misunderstandings likely will occur – it’s best to just plan on it happening. Not everyone has a firm grasp on what vegan and vegetarian diets consist of. If you’re in a large group, it’s almost certain that at least one person won’t understand your situation. Just be patient, expect it and be prepared to stand up for yourself. I’ll elaborate more on this in a separate point.
Most people don’t intentionally try to be hard to deal with. So, assume people who aren’t familiar with being vegan or vegetarian aren’t trying to be jerks. They probably just don’t know better. It’s a heck of a job to try to education people (especially people who don’t want to be educated). I know it can be a bit frustrating at times, but do your best to let it roll down you back.
Stand Up for Yourself (If You Have To)
The chances are that most people who don’t understand others dietary preferences are just a bit ignorant. But there is potentially a hard-to-find line between being ignorant and intentionally being a jerk. In group situations especially, there is always a chance that the group may try to peer pressure you into doing certain things. If you feel uncomfortable or if the jokes start to feel like they’re not jokes – then be prepared to say something.
I’m DEFINITELY not saying you should try to create confrontations. But when you’re on a trip with others, you definitely deserve the same respect you show others and don’t be afraid to let people know – if it comes to that.
Be Flexible with Others
Traveling with others is a two-way street. And those that you’re traveling with will very likely have to adapt to your needs. Likewise, you need to be adaptable to those you’re traveling with.
For instance, if you’re someone who doesn’t like people eating animals around you – then traveling with a group is probably not the time to air your concerns. It’s probably a good idea to suck it up in this scenario.
Simply put – plan to let others do their thing if it’s not directly impacting you in a negative way.
Step Up for Cooking Duties
If you’re with a group that is going to be doing some cooking, like on a camping trip, then you probably want to prepare ahead of time and plan to step up and cook (at least for yourself). People who are unfamiliar with plant-based diets likely won’t know for certain what you can or can eat. So, as a general rule of thumb, anyone with dietary preferences should plan to cook for themselves if they can – or have someone familiar with them doing the cooking.
If you’re going somewhere you’re planning to cook, then make sure you pack any ingredients and utensils that you may need to prepare meals.
Consider Eating Alone
It’s okay to break away from the group and have a meal by yourself. If there’s a vegan restaurant that you’re excited to try then you may have to break away from the group and venture out on your own. Don’t be disappointed if this occurs. It’s likely an uphill battle to convince an entire group to go to a vegan eatery, especially a group you’re not totally comfortable with.
Extend the offer, of course. But don’t be disappointed if it’s declined. And don’t be afraid to say I’ll catch up with you guys later and enjoy some alone time.
Know Where to Go in Worst Case Scenarios
Planning ahead is a big part of the game, as I previously mentioned. But one thing you’ll definitely want to note is where you can pick up supplies, if necessary.
What convenience stores, supermarket and vegan food options are nearby? If the group goes somewhere without options for you – you’re not going to want to be caught off guard. Have a list of where to go and have a plan for what you’ll do, in the event of a worst case scenario.
Don’t Forget to Pack Snacks
I feel like you know you’ve successfully transitioned to a vegan lifestyle when you can’t go anywhere without snacks. Does anyone else feel that way?
When you’re traveling, or really any time, it’s always a good idea to have something at the ready in case hunger strikes. When you have a diet preference, having snacks around is always a good idea. This is even more important when traveling somewhere that you’re not certain of your surroundings.
Remember to Have Fun!
I’ve saved the best for last… Above all else, remember you went on this trip to HAVE FUN! Do just that. No matter who you’re with, or how it unfolds, remember this is your getaway and it’s a time that you’re supposed to enjoy.
Things may happen that are awkward, and perhaps even a little confrontational. People may feel you’re too needy, or bossy, or get special accommodations, and oh well… That’s not your problem. If you allow other people to enjoy their time and do the things they want to do on the trip – they should have no issue extending you the same courtesy.
Don’t let any of the bumps in the road stop you from enjoying your time away!
Do You Have Any Tips to Share?
I’d love to hear your experience with going on trips with non-vegans. If you have any tips, or good stories to share, click the contact page a send me a message. I’m sure we all have different experiences with our friend groups, families, workmates and acquaintances.
I’d love to add your thoughts to this blog post if there’s anything that I overlooked.