Everyone eventually wearies of winter — well, everyone other than the adrenaline junkies who snowboard. This time of year is great for a getaway. No matter when you take a vacation, being vegan may seem daunting. If you’re driving, you have more options. Bring a cooler or map out vegan places to stop along the way. Did you know that sites like Happy Cow also cover airports? My daughter, Genevieve, and I escaped this winter with a week-long sojourn to the Big Island of Hawaii. During our layover in Seattle, we discovered Floret by Café Flora and enjoyed a feast of vegan Caesar salad, yam fries, a sriracha tofu rice bowl, and decadent coconut mango cake, with rosemary lemonade. It’s worth scouting out airport listings ahead of time; see if you can access terminals with vegan options. If there are none, you can usually find a juice place for nutritious, hydrating meals on the go. And don’t forget to grab a fresh banana at the airport coffee stand. We always bring staples when we fly, such as clementines or apples, dried fruits, and nuts. Prepare for the worst, hope for the best — isn’t that the vegan mantra? Do give airlines advance notice if flying long enough to request vegan meal service.
I’ve been known to plan entire vacations around the schedule of farmers’ markets. Our first stop in Kona was the Keauhou Farmers’ Market, where we stocked up on gorgeous tropical fruits, microgreens, sourdough bread, Kona coffee, macadamia nuts, and island-grown chocolate to keep us happy in the days to come. I try for a first-day farmers market if I’m staying where I have a refrigerator and kitchen, then add a mid-week market for longer trips. Gen and I made vegan pesto from farmers market fresh basil, lemons, garlic, macadamia nuts, sea salt, and olive oil. Next stop for us is a vegan-friendly grocery store. Whether it’s Whole Foods or a local shop, getting vegan supplies to stow in your lodging is helpful and fun. I’m always amazed at the vegan deli options when I travel. At Island Naturals in Kona, Gen and I found such treasures as vegan lilikoi haupia (Hawaiian coconut pudding topped with passion fruit) and taro tapioca. Food like that makes it mighty hard to leave. And finding fruit stands has been a godsend, whether in Paris, NYC, or the Big Island.
Researching restaurants is a must. I use apps but also do my own search on Google and in social media vegan groups to learn the latest options. Gen and I were delighted to discover One Aloha Shave Ice (Hawaiians do not put the “d” on “shave ice,” FYI) offers real organic fruit in their syrups. We also dined at charming new place called Herbivores, featuring smoothies, homemade desserts, and vegan comfort food to eat on their outdoor patio or order to go. And, for the absolute holy grail of this trip, we found a vegan luau. Once upon a time, vegan luaus weren’t a thing, but they do exist, and seem to be growing in popularity. The one at Under the Bodhi Tree is on the beautiful Kohala Coast, and comes with the free cultural entertainment at Mauna Lani Resort. What a treat — and for half the price of a standard luau which would be heartbreaking for a vegan anyway. I realize not all vacationing vegans have the budget to enjoy every option, especially in expensive locales. But keep in mind vegan street food — roasted chestnuts and pretzels in New York, frozen lemonades in beach towns, and vegan food trucks popping up all over. Camping is another option for affordable vegan vacays.
International travel as a vegan can be tricky. I had the hardest time in Japan. If you encounter a language barrier, consider having someone write “I’m vegan. Plant food only, please—no meat, fish, eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, cream, or butter.” on a card that fits in your wallet. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. We’ve all been outsiders at some point. For those going all-in, there are vegan cruises, vegan tourist trips, and even a vegan island in Thailand known as Koh Phangan. There’s a whole vegan world out there. Go savor it. Aloha.
Elisa Stone is a MSVA Master Vegan Lifestyle Coach and Educator, a graduate of the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies program in plant-based nutrition through the e-Cornell platform, a tenured college professor, and a non-judgmental vegan activist who grew up in rural America, and has been vegan 16 years, vegetarian 10 years prior.