Travel Well On the Go… with a Plant-Based Diet

By Chelsey H. Allen, B.A., RHN

Plant-based diets are moving beyond popular. And for a good reason. As we continue seeing well-being as an inherent part of travel, it’s no surprise that more destinations are offering choices that support the planet and our health.

When we travel, regardless of diet dogma or food preferences, it’s always refreshing to see healthy options on the go. Especially at airports, or en route to one, nourishment is now within closer reach with cold-pressed green juice at 7-11, kombucha on tap at local breweries, Beyond Meat at fast-food chains, to plant-based (whole food) snacks on the plane.

Many BC-based resorts are also taking a greener approach in supporting sustainability, eco-tourism and plant-based menu items. Leading hotel company, Fairmont Hotels and Resorts integrates healthy food choices throughout their properties in British Columbia, as do independents like Oak Bay Beach Hotel, Nimmo Bay Resort and Echo Valley Ranch, to name but a few.

Offering locally-sourced garden produce of herbs, lettuces, zucchini and squash to heritage tomatoes, the plant-based bounty in British Columbia is astounding and mostly organic… and, it’s incredibly good!

When travelling, we know that feeling good in our bodies is primarily achieved through nutrition, movement and sleep. Keeping our energy replenished is vital. This is where protein serves as your body’s passport to thriving.

The most common question is likely…”did I eat enough protein today?” Travelling as a plant-based eater takes this to a whole new level, as we adjust to new time zones, eating patterns, and what is readily available.

If you follow a plant-based diet, or you’re striving to ‘eat more greens,’ the protein struggle can be real. Getting a sufficient dose of protein starts with understanding its role and how plant protein supports our well-being.

A Quick Protein 101

Protein is made up of 20+ building blocks called amino acids. The nine essential amino acids must be obtained through diet. Animal sources are considered “complete” proteins as they contain all of the essential amino acids.

And while most plants are considered “incomplete” proteins, our bodies can close the plant protein loop.

If we’re eating a variety of plant-based food sources every day, the body will have a proper pool of amino acids to utilize and keep us energized.

So when you’re flying through the airport or waiting for the next ferry, try to find whole food sources of plant-based proteins like beans, lentils, quinoa, millet and tempeh
at the food courts. Your body will thank you, honestly.

Food Travel Tips for the Road

Pack the snacks. It’s a bit of work upfront but worth it. Think boiled eggs, raw nuts & seeds, apples and almond butter, plant-based energy balls, kale chips and cucumber with hummus. If you’re short on time (i.e. packing the suitcase at midnight), breathe easy – many of these snacks can be procured along the way, or at the airport.

Research ahead of time. To track down nutritious and veg-friendly locations, use hashtags on social media to help narrow down your search (ex. #VegetarianBC or #PlantBasedVancouver).

Listen to your gut. If you know that certain foods will leave you feeling sluggish or heavy, try to limit them and diversify your diet. If whole food options are scarce, opt for packaged snacks that have the least processed ingredients or ‘natural’ flavours/additives.

Enjoy the journey. You may have to take some liberties with your diet. Staying open and flexible will allow you to savour the moment while appreciating the experience overall.

Rejoice too because as green, clean eating continues to trend around the globe, travelling well and healthy is becoming more accessible than ever. If you prefer to eat vegetarian, or mostly as a plant-based food enthusiast, this is excellent news.