This summer Eden is studying in Limerick, Ireland with CISabroad, and doing an internship in Dublin, Ireland. Eden studies at Mount Ida College in Newton, Massachusetts. Here are some tips on how to make traveling with dietary restrictions as smooth as butter!
Traveling to a foreign country and being surrounded by many new types of food is overwhelming, and when you have dietary restrictions as well it can become challenging. I am Vegan and I survived in Ireland (A meat and dairy heavy country) for almost a whole summer with little to no struggle at all. This post is for anyone with any type of dietary restriction from lactose intolerance to vegans and vegetarians alike. It is possible and easy to stay happy and healthy when it comes to your restrictions with food while traveling. Here are ways to make eating out easier while abroad.
Research. Research restaurants in the area you will be staying in that accommodate your restrictions before even leaving home. This will make you feel more at ease before travelling and make eating out a breeze once you get there. I have very many restrictions when it comes to eating out so I have learned that it is always best to research beforehand. It only takes a few minutes rather than popping in and out of different restaurants trying to find something on the menu.
Call Ahead. Even when I am in the U.S. I call ahead but while in a foreign country it is even more helpful. If you research a place and you do not find anything that accommodates your needs, call and tell the chef you would like to come in for a meal but have certain restrictions. I find that almost always chefs are excited for a challenge and love making new dishes. Whenever I call and let a chef know I would like a vegan meal even though there is not one on the menu, they always create something delicious for me.
Ask. Although you may not find a meal for yourself on the menu, you can always ask the wait staff if the chef can make a specific meal that fits your needs. You may even simply be able to remove or add some items to a certain meal and make it perfect for you. I was lucky enough to have traveled to an English speaking country, but if you are somewhere English is not the first language learn how to say the things you cannot eat in the native language. It is as simple as printing those phrases out, or writing them down, or even downloading an app that explains your needs in many different languages. Before I left home for Europe this summer I downloaded the app “VCards” which explains what vegans do not eat in over one-hundred language. If I travel to Italy or Spain or wherever, I can just open the app at a restaurant and be all set. I am sure there are apps for other dietary restrictions as well.
Join an Online Group. Before I left for Ireland I joined a Facebook group for vegans in Ireland. People in the group post information about different vegan restaurants in their area of the country and restaurants that have vegan options on the menu. I have been able to ask questions and recommendations on these pages and it has been extremely helpful during my summer here. All I did was research “vegan in Ireland” and many pages came up. It is really that simple when you are traveling.
Lastly, no matter what your restrictions are do not ever feel like you are missing out on experiencing a culture because you have a food restriction. Before I left, many people asked me if I was going to “stay vegan” while I was in Ireland, and of course I was not going to put my beliefs on pause because I would be in a new culture. You may feel like you’re missing out on the full experience abroad because of your restrictions, but if you follow these tips you will find incredible food options that will make you feel a lot less left out knowing that there are many others in that country that lead the same lifestyle as you do.