Traveling and eating a plant based diet are two of my favorite things. And I’ve never believed that one has to compromise the other. There are definitely challenges that come with eating plant based when traveling and I, for sure, don’t eat as healthy when I travel as I do when I’m home, but with a little planning, some steadfastness, and a bit of wiggle room, I’ve always been able to stick to a plant based diet while exploring the world. Or at least, pretty dang close.
I just got back home from a trip to The Netherlands where I spent Christmas and New Year’s. As you will see from my pictures below, eating a kick ass plant based diet while exploring the world isn’t always easy, it’s not always oil free, there are the occasional non-plant-based items (but never any meat, poultry or fish for me) and sometimes you just have to do the best you can and leave it at that. But just like anything, if you really want it, there is always a way to make it work.
Below are pictures of my food while traveling to and from Holland, and while visiting. I’ve added captions above each photo with explanations and tips.
Enjoy my vacation!
I drink a green smoothie every morning. The morning / day that I leave for a trip I sometimes have two because I know I likely won’t have another until I’m settled in wherever I’m going. I added a ton of spinach and blueberries to this one, along with a little soy milk, water, flaxseed meal, banana and turmeric powder.
I usually pack a shit ton of food for my travel day. I packed a shit ton X 10 on this trip because we were flying halfway around the globe. Our flight path was Hilo > Honolulu > Seattle > Iceland > Amsterdam. I wanted to make sure my food was covered until we got to Amsterdam. #missionaccomplished
The almond butter jars are my travel food containers. I fill one with steel cut oats and one with a mix of grains, beans, greens and dressing. They are plastic so they’re super light and they won’t break. I’ve been using the two jars pictured below for well over a year on various trips.
Security scrutinized my food and did some kind of swab test on the jars but my line of “I follow a specific diet. My food gets checked all the time and they always let me through with it” worked like a charm (I am always SUPER nice when I explain this. Being snotty will not help you).
If you bring oats with you when you travel, don’t add any type of milk because too much liquid becomes a problem at security. Also, I packaged these oats up cold and ate them cold. I could have probably found a restaurant in one of the many airports I was in and asked them for a bowl and a microwave to heat them up but that’s way too fussy for me. I’m happy to eat them cold / room temp.
Be sure to bring plastic silverware and a few napkins / paper towels in your food bag.
I basically make a Buddha Bowl in my jar with whatever ingredients I have in my fridge that work well together. This one had brown rice, steamed broccoli, hummus, kale, Walnut Parm and some dressing that I was working on for a meal plan.
When I go on super long trips I bring along dehydrated split pea soup. This is great for the plane because you can ask for a cup of hot water and then add some soup and stir. Voila, hot soup, ready to go! When selecting my soup, I always make sure it’s vegan and preferably low sodium. I found this one on the bulk bin section of my local health food store and it saved me on many occasions during my many flights!
Instead of buying pre-made trail mix, I just toss some nuts, seeds and raisins in a bag and call it good. This way I avoid the salt and sugar that’s in most pre-made trail mix.
Pomegranate seeds burst with powerful antioxidants. If I can find one before my trip I always pack it. The key is to take the seeds out of the fruit and put them in a plastic bag. There’s no way I could peel a pomegranate in transit. Once they are in a bag, those beautiful seeds can be eaten with a spoon whenever you feel like having something sweet.
Here we are getting our grub on at the airport. Nothin’ to see here folks, just two Dirty girls fueling with plants!
I packed 4 sandwiches in total (there were two of us traveling). Two almond butter and fruit sandwiches, one hummus and avo sandwich for me and one egg sandwich for my wifey who is not totally plant based.
I love arriving at an airport after a flight and eating my oats. When I used to eat airplane and airport food I would feel fucking blah during my travel day. When I fuel with plants that I brought from home, I feel energized, light, and happy to be traveling. Breakfast is nearly impossible for plant based eaters in airports. You might be able to get some unripe fruit or some processed oatmeal but that’s about it. I never travel without my oats.
I layer my oats like a lasagna; oats, fruit, oats, nuts. Putting the nuts on top helps them stay crunchy.
In one of many planes, happily eating my portable Buddha Bowl.
My travel yoga mat is a must for my carry on for this exact reason. Busting out some downward dogs, forward folds and general stretches between flights makes a huge difference in how your body feels when you arrive to your destination. I don’t love the stares I get, but I just smile and keep stretching.
Poppin’ a squat on my yoga mat with some tea before we board. I always bring my own tea bags and ask for a cup of hot water when I’m ready for some tea.
Finally arrived in Amsterdam, feeling ready to explore the city for as long as I could keep my eyes open. The time difference is 12 hours from my house so there were a couple days of adjustment. My best advice for having minimal jet lag is as follows:
- Follow the time wherever you are and forget about what time it is where you came from.
- Do NOT take a nap and try to stay up until at least 7pm.
- Instead of holding up in your room / hotel / house, take long walks and explore!
- Drink lots of water and keep fueling with plants.
Here’s a tip – any ethnic restaurant will have plenty of plant based options. Don’t be afraid to try new cuisines from parts of the world that you can’t even point to on a map. I had to ask where Suriname was because it wasn’t ringing any bells. It turns out that it’s in South America and it was colonized by the Dutch in the 1600’s. Their food is a mix of Indonesian food and Southern Indian food and it’s damn nice. If I see a sign for “exotic food”, I am THERE! We ate here the first night and went back again for lunch. It was that good.
I had curry potatoes, noodles, tempeh (the best tempeh I’ve ever had), and stir fried cabbage. I’m salivating as I’m remembering this meal. It might not look like much but the flavors and textures were spot on.
When you order ginger tea in Holland, you get a cup of hot water and big ass chunks of ginger. I loved it!
The morning after we arrived, we woke up at 4:30am, did a little work and then bundled up and started walking the city by 7:00am. We were excited to get some tea / coffee and food. Little did we know that it stays dark until 9:00am and not much opens until that time. So we wandered the dark streets, happy to be outside and feeling refreshed by the cold.
We finally stumbled upon a cafe that was open. I skimmed the menu and the plant based options were limited to toast with sautéed mushrooms and onions. Are you kidding, sign me up! It was oily but I didn’t care. I was thankful I could eat!
The cafe didn’t offer fresh fruit, but they did offer a pancake with fresh apple slices, so we ordered it and Luanne ate the pancake and I ate the apples. There are perks to being with omnis.
Later that day we stumbled upon an Indian restaurant just as we were ready for lunch. One of the funnest ways to explore a new place is to have zero agenda and just see what happens when you wander. Too much planning can lead to missing out on unexpected gems. This restaurant had solid Indian food and I was happy to eat a bunch of beans in the form of heavenly Chana Masala. Dutch food is meat and cheese heavy, so eating at ethnic restaurants kept me fed!
There is no shortage of juice bars in Amsterdam. All the juices are pre-made but they don’t have added sugar and they have the ingredients that I would juice if I were at home. The only downside to this type of juice is the nutrients aren’t as potent because it was made earlier in the day. But seriously, who cares! I was happy for green juice.
This little juice bar also had steel cut oats topped with raw cacao nibs and cashew cream. Unexpected bonus.
We were going to be in Amsterdam for a few days so we hit the grocery store after we were done exploring the first day (we walked the city for 10 hours!). I bought some fresh fruit, soy milk, cereal and some carrots. Here I am eating an apple during another day of exploring the city by foot.
And here is my croissant at a little cafe we stopped at. It was delicious and wonderful and I enjoyed every last bite!
Because were were only in Amsterdam a few days and I didn’t feel like spending all my time cooking, we ate out a lot. This was awesome because a big part of traveling is experiencing the food. We found this great Mediterranean restaurant and I ordered a few things to try and a few things to pack so I had dinner and breakfast.
Here is our dreamy hummus and falafel.
They roasted a whole eggplant, split it open and filled it with couscous, tahini sauce, parsley, pomegranate seeds and pine nuts. You will very likely see something similar in a future meal plan.
Our lunch spread.
A little cereal before we start another day of tromping around. I usually don’t eat granola unless I make my own, but when you travel you just have to do the best you can. This is easy because granola doesn’t need to be refrigerated and you can pack it if you are traveling within your travels. If you can’t find soy milk you can always top your cereal with orange juice.
This is the granola I bought. It had sugar but was vegan. Again, do the best you can and be flexible.
From Amsterdam we went to Leiden (where my sister, brother in-law, niece and nephew live). We went to get coffee / tea when we arrived and the coffee shop had this big, beautiful salad on the menu. The kicker? The dressing was oil free! What?? It was a simple lemon, salt and pepper dressing. I ate this salad with pure delight. It’s always good to see what’s on the menu, even if a place doesn’t seem like it would have anything for you.
After our visit, we went to the healthy grocery store and I loaded up on ingredients for the house we were staying at. Fruit, veggies, spelt bread, rice, almond butter, lentils, a vegan pate, Coconut Aminos – all the staples. We would be staying at this house for the remainder of our trip (with day trips throughout) so it was time to stock up on plants.
I needed dulse powder or flakes for a dish I was making for Christmas but I couldn’t find it. I did find whole dulse so I put it in the oven at 200° and baked it for about 30 minutes. Then, I transferred it to the food processor and VOILA! I had dulse powder. I usually wouldn’t bother and would just leave it out, but it was a key ingredient in the Carrot Lox I was making for Christmas morning.
The next couple of days I was in the kitchen preparing food for Christmas eve and Christmas morning. There were 11 of us in total, ranging from total meat lover, vegan, WFPB, omni, to picky eater – my family runs the gamut.
Here are some veggies I roasted with a simple marinade of thyme, balsamic vinegar, some veggie broth, salt and pepper.
Veggie platter with hummus and roasted red pepper dip. Olives on the right and a bean salad on the left.
Bean and veggie salad I threw together from the roasted veggies and a couple cans of beans. Super easy and yummy.
This pate was a crowd pleaser.
I made some brussels sprouts that I tossed with tahini, a bit of soy milk and some spices and roasted until brown and crispy.
THIS is coming to a future Plant Fueled Meal Plan thanks to our Dirty Wizard, Jen. Bagels with Cashew Cream Cheese, Carrot Lox, red onion and capers. Even my hardcore meat eating nephew liked it. It’s fucking delicious and my DIY dulse powder was perfect in it.
Tofu Sausage, also from an upcoming meal plan.
White Gravy that is HEAVENLY. Another Jen special that will be in a meal plan in February (2018).
Christmas breakfast was a hit. Potatoes and Tofu Sausage with White Gravy and the Lox Bagels. Everyone was pleased, from the meat eater to the omni, to the plant based peeps.
The next morning I had a big bowl full of berries for breakfast.
We found another Surinamese restaurant in Leiden that was almost as good as the one in Amsterdam. They had the same options available. They also had samosas with no meat or dairy and FULL of spices and veggies. So yummy! Here is my lunch with a side of hummus.
Off exploring the quaint city of Delft. We found this restaurant right in the heart of town that had lots of plant based options, along with green juice. When I see a place with green juice, I never pass it up.
I ordered a kale, cucumber, celery, apple juice right away.
I also ordered the plant based BLT (they used eggplant for the bacon) as a salad with a pita. The dressing was tahini based and totally Dirty worthy!
They had a nice pumpkin soup that could be served vegan if they held the cream. Also, their turmeric hummus was fab! #anothermealplanidea
The great thing about The Netherlands is that most people speak some English, so navigating restaurants and grocery stores and transportation isn’t daunting.
During a rainy walk, my mom and I (she was there!) found a Thai restaurant and warmed up with some veggies and curry.
I asked the woman who worked there if the food was vegetarian and without eggs and dairy. I find that it’s easier to ask like this instead of asking if something is “vegan” because people may or may not know what that is exactly. I did’t even bother asking about oil. She pointed out the options that were vegetarian with no eggs or dairy.
One of them was a coconut curry with tofu and it was delish. The other was veggies with tofu. As soon as I tasted the veggies with tofu I knew there was either shrimp paste or fish sauce in it. I forgot the golden rule of ordering vegan food at Thai restaurants, to hold the fish sauce and fish paste.
Oh well, I packed it up for Luanne and happily ate the curry.
When you order mint tea in Holland they give you hot water with loads of fresh mint. Between that and the ginger tea, I was loving it!
We ate lunch one day at a restaurant that my sweet nephew picked because he said it had vegan options. It was really yummy and they also had green juice. I always drink green juice when it’s available, gotta get those greens in any chance you get!
Most places that had soup didn’t use cream in the soup, they only topped the soup with cream. So if I found a vegetarian soup and asked them to hold the cream, then it was vegan soup city! This is a tomato soup that was divine.
Here is my stacked veggie sandwich with hummus, roasted veggies, avo, chickpeas and greens, and to the right is my nephew, Finn. If you’re ever in Leiden, Ann and Max is a great lunch spot. If you see my nephew, give him a big hug for me 🙂
We had a girl’s night out one night and had dinner and then went to the ballet to see Swan Lake. It was my 9-year-old niece’s Christmas wish. I am not big on ballets but I had fomo so I went along. I didn’t fall asleep and it was actually really good.
My sister picked the restaurant, being mindful of the pack of food choices that our crew rolls with. The restaurant didn’t have any vegan options listed on the menu but I had a chat with our server and she was really helpful. I ended up ordering a big salad with roasted veggies and tomato soup without the cream. It was super yummy. Sometimes asking for things that aren’t on the menu is uncomfortable but if you’re nice about it, and open to suggestions, most restaurants and servers will accommodate. Remember, it’s always a no until you ask.
A fantastic bowl of tomato soup.
Here’s the thing. I only brought one pair of shoes with me to Europe and I didn’t bring anything fancy to wear because I knew it was going to be colder than my freezer. Here I am outside of the ballet in my one pair of shoes and the best outfit I brought with me. The kicker? I checked my leftovers along with my “blanket thingy” (as Luanne refers to my poncho) at coat check.
And that’s why they call me #podunkmol.
Once I was situated with my groceries in the house where we were staying, my smoothie routine resumed. They weren’t as good as they are at home, but they got the plants in my bod.
Granola with unsweetened soy milk and berries and a cup of hot water with mint.
On New Year’s Day we had a brunch / snack get together and then we made our way to check out the North Sea, a good luck tradition for the Dutch. We had fruit, guacamole, smoked white bean hummus, veggies, crackers, tea, wine (none for me, of course) and chocolate. We also had blinking Christmas light necklaces that my mom brought for everyone to wear. Mom, you’re the best!
Me, my nephew and my mom taking flight for the camera.
The North Sea was beautiful. And fucking cold.
I love exploring the world with this woman!
Luanne and I took my whole fam out for a meal on our last day together. Since we were paying I made an executive decision that we would eat at a plant based restaurant in Amsterdam. I chose Mr. and Mrs. Watson because they could accommodate 11 people and they have good reviews.
In the excitement of house-made vegan cheese platters, vegan Reubens, veggie chowder, grilled cheese sandwiches, veggie croquettes, sloppy joes, flapjacks and tiramisu, I forgot to take pictures. I will say that it was a yummy meal that the vegans at the table thoroughly enjoyed.
It can be intimidating to take meat eaters to an all plant based restaurant, but fuck it! Us plant eaters are so used to eating nothing but a salad when we go out to eat, sometimes we need a turn. And this was a really yummy turn.
My plastic almond butter jar can only mean one thing. It was time to head home.
I filled that sucker up with non-dairy yogurt, granola and berries. Not as healthy as steel cut oats but this was the best I could do and it was better than eating airport food. I was super happy with my snack.
Chillin’ on the floor because our Icelandair gate didn’t believe in chairs. That was A-okay for #podunkmol! I love a good floor sit.
One of many planes that brought us home, over the course of our 30-hour journey, back to Hawaii. Here I have a veggie burger on bread with tahini sauce and lettuce that I packed for the air.
Keepin’ it real with a crunchy apple.
Not a great photo, but I needed a snack, deep in the night, so I had a carrot and a banana.
I found this couscous at one of the many airports we were in. Maybe it was Seattle. Even though I brought my own food, I never pass up a solid vegan offering when the journey is extra long.
Busting out some split pea soup in the plane. I asked the flight attendant for a cup of hot water and let the dehydrated peas do their magic. It was so nice to have a warm cup of soup on the plane.
My plane noms. Soup, another carrot and some hummus and crackers.
We arrived in Honolulu late and we stayed the night because there were no more planes going to the Big Island. When we got to the hotel we were starvin’ marvin’ so we hit up Yelp. The only place that was open near us was a Ramen restaurant. I ordered some edamame and asked for a side of nori. I added some ground sesame seeds to my beans and I was a happy camper!
The server looked at me like I was crazy for ordering plain nori. And that was okay with me.
The next morning we got up and hit Heavenly, a restaurant in Waikiki that has a couple vegan options and green smoothies. There is nothing like a glass of green the morning after a long travel day.
Bowl of fruit.
More fruit to help hydrate after the LONG ASS trip.
Jet lagged and ready to eat!
After our smoothie and fruit we ordered some split pea soup and avo toast. The soup had meat in it so Luanne ate it and I ate the toast. It was the perfect amount of food to get us to our next flight and finally home.
Hello beautiful Hawaii, what an amazing place to come home to.
If you’re inspired to eat plant based on your next trip, pop a comment below and tell us about it!
We have another trip coming up in March. This time we’re headed to South East Asia for a month. You can bet your perfect butt I will document my food and share it with you!