Ah, vacations with the family. Taking your little one to the zoo and then on to the sealife center and then pitching up for lunch at a well-known fast-food chain…wait, what? What do you mean that’s not vegan?!
Yes, it’s true, being a vegan can limit your choices when it comes to vacations, both in terms of food and activities and sometimes, even, into destinations. The last thing you want is to be stuck in the middle of a country where you don’t speak the language and your little angels are screaming they’re hungry, and the solitary place you seem to be able to find to eat only offers salad…that you have to ask for dressing-less.
Luckily for us, travel destinations all over the world are beginning to dip their toes in the ocean of vegan utopias. There is an ever-growing number of vegan hotels and resorts that don’t just cater to the child-free, offering a range of kid-friendly activities, meals, and rooms. Keep reading to find out how your vacations can be impeccably vegan and mind-bogglingly fun!
Planning is Key
Snacks, maps, and hour-long naps
Arguably, the best vacations come from a well-thought-out plan. This is doubly so when it comes to organizing a green, child-friendly trip. Even without the added bonus of being vegans, any sprog is likely to get antsy if there are no snacks hidden in your bottomless bag, no juice to soothe their Sahara throats, and no idea where the nearest loo is. Zero plan can lead to zero dry trousers. It sounds overwhelming, but it’s super straightforward! No matter what country you end up opting for, do your research. Don’t rock up to a village in the south of Italy and be surprised when they think eating chicken is vegan. There are great resources to help you find local, vegan-friendly restaurants and cafes that you can plan your day around, even just using google maps, finding the town you’re heading to and typing in ‘vegan cafe’ can help locate everything you need. Plus, most countries sell fruit and veg so there’ll always be something, just know in advance how far away that something is.
Being vegan isn’t just about the food, of course. Make sure you bring toiletries and essentials that carry the green V and have a read-up on the available products in that country. There are plenty of vegan forums online, even just on Facebook, where you can ask away from actual vegan locals and figure out whether you should pack extra everything, which you’ll probably end up doing anyway.
Destination, Vegan Land
Vegan-friendly countries, getaways, and hotels. (Places, spaces, and a kid-friendly oasis)
So, work has been booked off, funds are in order and the kids are bouncing off the walls, though that may just be the sugar they just secretly ingested. Where are you headed? You absolutely can pick somewhere solely based on your desire to go there and work around the veganism bits, but it is useful to know that there are dedicated vegan resorts and countries with a higher vegan population. Vegan hotels have started popping up all over the globe and take pride in their green label, advertising a stress-free way to enjoy your vacation, knowing at the very least that the place you’re staying in will be able to cater for you and the littles. And what’s more is that lots of these places aim for inclusivity of singles and families, encouraging everyone and anyone to take the adventure over to them!
An example of this tot-loving, vegan wonderland is Vegan Life Energy in Alicante, Spain, which has a range of activities available for all ages. Not to mention, kids under 5 stay free and 5-16-year-olds get a half-price stay! Thinking of a UK trip? There are B&B’s and hotels dotted up and down the coasts offering either a wholly or partly plant-based menu, and you can keep the kids entertained with the seaside activities on offer. A single offering of this is Coast Cornwall Accommodation, based in Carbis Bay. This fully veggie and vegan guest house offers perfect family rooms and vegan food from their Bean Inn kitchen, and with St Ives brimming with activities a short bus ride away, it’s an ideal family destination. If you fancy a bit more sun with your sea, you could opt for Villa Fauna in Costa Rica. This gorgeous B&B offers a full vegan menu and can cater to raw vegans. And what about the kids? Turu Ba Ri Eco-adventure park is located a few minute’s drives away and has all the outdoor activities your bean can wear themselves out with. These are just a handful of the offerings available as there are options dotted around the globe that will suit your family and give you a vegan vacation your kids just will not stop talking about.
(You’ll find helpful links on vegan vacation planning below)
Say no to animal tourism and yes to sanctuaries
Alternative entertainment to keep you, well, entertained
Remember the days before you had kids and sitting on a beach reading for the entire day was enough to keep you entertained? I don’t need to tell you, that’s not the case anymore! But what are some good vegan-friendly alternatives for when you can’t seem to silence the cries of ‘Please take us to the zoo!!!’ And, anyway, aren’t all vegan-friendly resort places out in the middle of nowhere with daily yoga, facials, and meditations? I’ll let you sit with the image of attempting to get your mini-me to sit still and quietly for 10 minutes, let alone in a half-hour group session. Luckily, as we have already read, that isn’t the case anymore! Having a vegan-friendly vacation does not have to mean diving headfirst into the woods and living on sticks and berries. You can absolutely enjoy all the wonder of your average vacation with just a little more forethought.
If you’re a family that loves the outdoors, exploring, and all things sporty, then there are a multitude of options all over the globe that offer various activities from coastal surfing lessons to inland adventure parks to keep the kids, and yourselves, fully occupied and having the best vacation imaginable.
If you simply can’t imagine a vacation without animals involved in some way shape or form, then avoid all places that offer one on one time with animals or exclusively profit off the animals without much thought as to their wellbeing. Look for local animal sanctuaries that could do with an extra pair of hands for the day or offer viewings from a respectable distance. Alternatively, find a tour that takes you to natural habitats to view from a distance; take a boat trip to see dolphins or head into the woods to spot birds.
To eat or not to eat? That is the…no we’ll eat.
Eating vegan in any location
One of the quintessential things to living as a vegan is, by far, the diet. And one of the things that seem to be on kids’ minds constantly is food. This can throw up some hoops when you’re planning a trip to a place you aren’t necessarily familiar with, particularly with sprogs in tow. Remember that taking snacks is always a well-endorsed tip, but what about when they, gulp, run out? Happy cow (linked below) is an incredible resource for traveling vegan. Find the place you’re staying and it’ll present you with tried and tested vegan eateries, just be sure to check the websites for kids’ meals! Do some research on readily available vegan snacks native to that country too, not to quote a large supermarket chain but, every little helps!
Don’t forget the first part of this article! Always, always, always, plan ahead. Your destination is heartily intertwined with having a great vacation and forward planning is key to being able to relax. Going to already vegan-friendly locations helps fight against being stuck with the one local vegan cafe. TUI has a brilliant little list of vegan-friendly countries, linked below, that already have plant-based culture deeply integrated into their society. Take Bali for instance, being a largely Hindu country, vegetarianism is heartily enjoyed and they often opt for plant-based options. You’ll feel like you have been transported to vegan heaven upon seeing the sheer volume of vegan hotspots! Not to mention the numerous kid-friendly places to stay, it really is a treat for all the family. A little bit of research into where you’re heading goes a long way!
A word of caution when traveling to countries not well known for their plant-based prowess; non-vegan ingredients can be hidden in the most unsuspecting places. Fish sauce, meat broth, and egg are just a handful of cumbersome animal ingredients that chefs love to hide in their food. This can be extra tricky when you don’t speak the local lingo, so be sure to plan ahead by looking at menus and communicating with the staff. Investigate local cuisine and see if it would be easy enough to veganise an item on the menu. If this becomes a bit too cumbersome, head back to the happy cow and find a definitely vegan venue and make sure to check the opening times!
How to show your kids that green is great and achievable!
We all know that being vegan and compassionately eco-conscious usually go hand in hand, so how can we ensure we reduce our footprint whilst enjoying all the world has to offer? If you can stick to your own country and use electric cars or, better yet, public transport then that is ideal! But, of course, if you want to head further afield you might lean more towards travel by air and sea. By cost and efficiency alone, flying is superior to aqua travel. Reducing your air miles as much as possible is ideal, but if you do have to fly, a company called atmosfair is a great tool to help figure out the most planet-friendly companies. They use a whole load of numbers and data to help work out the most efficient companies and rank them, more information about what goes into this is available on their website, linked in the helpful resources section. They also offer more information on eco-travel companies and tour operators, amongst others, an invaluable resource if you’re thinking of green vacations!
You can also think about your own waste whilst you’re away. Having the kids with you means food on the move, so be sure to take your own and don’t rely on buying snacks with lots of packaging on the way. Carry your own water bottles to make sure everyone is hydrated and have one less thing to complain about.
Being a vacationing vegan with kids can throw up more obstacles than if you were an alone adult traveler. Some of the hurdles are the same, but some remain firmly in the parents’ arena. With a little bit more planning, and asking the kids what they feel like doing, a bit of a can of worms but they might have some great ideas, you can ensure that the whole family will come home with full tummies, tired eyes, and a whole host of wonderful memories.
https://www.happycow.net/ – To find local vegan restaurants and cafes
https://www.atmosfair.de/en/ – Eco-conscious airplanes and more
https://www.tui.co.uk/destinations/discover/food/best-vegan-holidays – Countries that are best for vegans
https://plantbasednews.org/opinion/the-top-6-destinations-for-vegan-families/ – Family friendly vegan holidays
https://www.livekindly.co/8-vegan-family-vacations/ – Family vegan hotspots
https://www.vegansociety.com/news/blog/top-child-friendly-vegan-festivals – UK based vegan festivals
https://www.chefspencil.com/most-popular-countries-and-cities-for-vegans-in-2020-jan-2021-update/ – Countries and cities with a high vegan count
https://www.thenomadicvegan.com/travel-vegan-questions – A professional vegan traveller answers popular questions
https://www.naturetrek.co.uk/news/35-best-wildlife-holidays – Animal viewing in their natural habitat, at a distance
https://www.kindredtraveller.co.uk/bespoke-vegan-holidays/ – Vegan travel planner