#1 Google is your best friend.
When you’re traveling, most of the time all you have to do is google “vegan restaurants near me” and you can find places to eat. There might not be an all-vegan restaurant within a couple of miles, but the search will include places that have vegan options. I have noticed also that a lot of ethnic restaurants have vegan options, like Thai, Italian, Japanese, and Indian.
Don’t be afraid to ask for vegan options. A lot of restaurants actually have vegan/gluten-free/allergen menus. If they don’t have a specific menu, you will most likely have to explain what it means to be vegan, but sometimes the chef will even create a simple vegetable dish for you that has no meat or dairy. That way, when you are out with non-vegan friends or co-workers or family, you can still eat with them and have a good time.
(Delicious quinoa salad that was served only for me at our sports banquet. Also I’m admittedly not so good at taking pictures of food ¯\_(ツ)_/¯)
#3 Plan ahead.
Before you get to the hotel, do the necessary research to find vegan food options near your destination. When you live on the standard American diet, you can just stop anywhere to eat. But vegans need to know what’s on the menu before sitting down for a meal. The best way to find that out is to look online first.
#4 Don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself.
My experience as a college athlete has led me to this conclusion. I used to feel as if I was inconveniencing my teammates or my coaches because we might need to stop at a Subway, but I soon realized this very simple thing: they are making a conscious choice to consume animal products, while I am making a conscious choice NOT to consume animal products. I don’t have to conform to the popular opinion just because it’s what everyone else is doing. Out of courtesy, I will certainly try to make a way for myself at the restaurants they choose, but if I need to go somewhere else, I won’t be afraid to speak up for myself. I have a right to choose a healthy path for myself. Fortunately, I have had coaches that are willing to help me at those times and they try to do what they can to ensure that I get what I need. But if I don’t speak up, how will they know what I need?
#5 Sometimes . . . cheat?
With all that being said, one of the biggest things I have to ensure when I’m on road trips for basketball is that I am getting enough food. A salad is not a good dinner for me when I have a basketball game the next day. I play a high-energy sport that requires a LOT of physical activity and therefore I need to make sure I’m getting enough calories to sustain myself. So for example, I am not afraid to eat mashed potatoes that most likely have milk and butter in them, because sometimes that’s the best I can do. I never eat cheese or meat, but certain foods that have milk or butter within them won’t bother my stomach. So yes, sometimes I cannot eat a fully vegan meal on the road. I HAVE to get calories in. I just do the best that I can.
Please feel free to leave any questions or comments below!