When you’re planning a family vacation it’s important to take each individual’s needs into account. This means making sure everyone can join in with planned activities and that everyone can have fun. If you have a vegan in the family, making sure everyone will be able to eat can be a little more complicated, but with good planning you should still be able to enjoy a great adventure together.
What is veganism?
If one of your family members is vegan that person may have asked not to be given certain foods, but you could still be uncertain which foods are acceptable. In fact it’s simple: vegans don’t eat any animal-derived products. This means that they’re vegetarian but, along with avoiding meat and fish, they also avoid dairy products, eggs and honey. Most vegans also avoid products containing animal derivatives such as beef gelatin, which is present in many processed foods, and they avoid wearing leather or fur. In some parts of the world, there have been people living like this for thousands of years. Modern veganism has been around in the West for about 70 years. It’s increasingly popular, especially with young people, and you can find out more about it from the Vegan Society.
Choosing where to eat
When you have a vegan family member it can be difficult to find restaurants where everybody is happy to eat. Chinese, Japanese and Korean places usually don’t use dairy products, so are okay as long as they offer vegetarian options. If they are run by recent immigrants who are not sure what’s vegetarian and what isn’t, it’s best to ask for Buddhist food. Some traditional American restaurants are happy to take dairy products out of their vegetarian dishes where practicable. Vegans gradually become unable to digest the proteins in dairy food, so it can be a good idea to take an artificial lactose capsule before eating, in case of accidental contamination; this will reduce the risk of illness.
Where to stay
When you’re choosing accommodation, you may want to check first to see if there are restaurants in your hotel or nearby that can cater to vegans. Alternatively, you could choose a self-catering apartment where you can cook your own food. If you’re staying in a hotel, see if there is a fridge you can use; this will allow you to store your own foods, which the kitchen may be willing to cook for you.
By now, most people are familiar with the range of meat substitute products that are available to vegetarians – everything from tempeh rashers to soya mince. It’s important to note that many Quorn products are not suitable for vegans because they are made using eggs. These days there are also some great alternatives to eggs and dairy products, making it easy to substitute ingredients. Check out Hampton Creek’s Facebook to learn more about the work being done in this area. Hampton Creek food is also very healthy because it doesn’t contain trans-fatty acids or MSG. As a result, even a cook with no experience of vegan nutrition can now produce healthy, enjoyable meals.
On the journey
When you’re on a plane, getting the staff to switch ingredients isn’t really an option. When you’re driving long distance and relying on diners, it can also present a significant challenge. To deal with these situations, it’s a good idea to take plenty of snacks. Flapjacks, oatcakes and rice cakes are great because they pack a lot of energy into a small package and can keep you going for a long time.
Travelling with a vegan family member may require a bit of extra organization, but it’s far from impossible. A well-planned trip can still be lots of fun for all involved.