When I work with clients, the question that always seems to arise is, “but how do I stick to a vegan keto diet while traveling?” It can become easy to maintain the same routine in the bubble of your home when you’re able to go grocery shopping, but once you’re out in the world, things can get a bit trickier. So, here’s what I do to stay on a vegan keto diet while traveling.
The first rule of vegan keto travel is ‘always pack snacks.’
This is the number one thing I do, whether I’m headed on a day trip, flying for a work trip or going on a cross-country road trip. Snacks are key. Even further, convenience snacks are the way to go. I like to weigh and portion out little containers or baggies of nuts and seeds before headed out on a trip, as well as tossing some seaweed snacks and protein bars in my bag. If I’m taking a car, I will actually pack a whole separate bag just for foods. It might seem excessive, but it can be totally necessary!
Some of my favorite snacks to bring on trips are:
- Homemade trail mix or granola
- Homemade “granola” bars
- Pre-portioned nuts, seeds or toasted edamame
- Seaweed snacks
- Packaged lupini beans
- “Pegan” protein bars
In terms of quantity, I always try and pack way more than I think I’ll need. So many times, you realize that the only breakfast option available is either eggs, bacon, cereal or bagels and so most of the time, I just end up eating a protein bar for breakfast with my coffee. It’s not the most satisfying option in the world, but it works and keeps me in ketosis on the road.
Note: If you’re traveling by plane, you may want to check to see if nuts are permitted before your flight. I did not do this one time and spent a 6 hour flight wishing that I had, as all I had brought was a giant bag of peanuts and peanut butter protein bars. Whoops…
Before You Go: Find Health Food Stores in the Area
Something my husband and I always do before heading out on a trip is find the local Whole Foods Market. This made more sense when I worked there and had a discount, but we still do it to this day. Whole Foods (and other health food stores) usually have the most options for vegan keto food. You can also get full meals from the salad bar or hot food bar, and even frozen food that can be microwaved in the cafe in front. Whole Foods usually also has nice bathrooms and a pretty big seating area, which are plusses if you’re on a road trip.
Trader Joe’s is another great place to stop. While the options aren’t so abundant, you can still find plenty of salads, vegetables and packaged snacks to grab. No matter where I stay while on the road, I usually make sure to hit up one of these two stores to stock up on some essentials. Sprouts, Fresh Market, and other “health food” stores are great options as well, I just don’t have them in my area, so I’m not as familiar with their offerings.
Scope Out Restaurant Menus Before You Head Out
This is pretty important and is actually something that I do before I even leave. I like to make a list of restaurants in the area and look at their menus so I know what I can eat ahead of time. I’ll even send an email to myself with all the links and the menu options that look to be vegan keto friendly so I can pull up the info without having to look around the website again.
It might seem a little crazy, but it can really help if you’re discussing where to go out to eat with friends and can provide some choices instead of frantically trying to look up the menu of every place that is suggested.
Even if you don’t remember to do this ahead of your trip, just peeking at the menu before you go out to eat can make your life so much easier.
What I Order as a Low Carb Vegan on a Menu
It can be really frustrating on a low carb vegan or plant-based keto diet to try and find things on a menu, this only becomes compounded if you are also soy-free, nut-free or gluten-free (or all three!).
There are a few things I check for on a menu to keep my carb count low. This is especially convenient if the restaurant isn’t really a vegan or vegetarian-friendly place.
Salads are always a safe bet. Menus will typically list out all salad ingredients and they are often pretty easy to modify. So, asking for a greek salad without feta won’t gum up the works. I also typically ask for the dressing on the side and will usually opt for something simple like a balsamic vinaigrette or just oil and vinegar.
So, lots of menus that aren’t necessarily geared towards vegans and vegetarians (especially keto vegans) will have some “accidentally vegan” items on their appetizer menu. Usually in the form of a hummus plate or crispy brussels sprouts. They might require a quick modification (like extra veggies in place of pita on the hummus platter), but that’s not a huge deal.
Yes, hummus is a little higher in carbs, but at the end of the day, it’s really not that bad and is better than having to settle for a bowl of plain pasta.
Most restaurants will have a small section at the bottom that lists out the side dish options. You can typically find roasted broccoli, cauliflower or asparagus in that section. If the restaurant where I’m eating doesn’t have a full-sized salad that I can eat, I’ll often get a side salad with a side dish of grilled or roasted veggies.
Find a Sub Place
I recently discovered that Subway, of all places, is actually surprisingly friendly for those on a vegan keto diet. Mostly because they let you customize a salad bowl with all of their toppings. I usually just have them load up a bowl with olives and pickles and peppers and other veggies and then put plain oil and vinegar on top. It’s not too bad in a pinch!
Accept That You May Have to Eat a Snack With Dinner
So, you may come away from dinner realizing that the only options on the menu had basically no protein and you’re still hungry after about an hour. This is where those snacks come in handy. It’s not ideal, but many a time on vacation or on the road, I’ve ended up resorting to eating those snacks I had packed for myself as a meal.
Don’t Stress, Just Do What You Can
I think the most important thing to remember is not to stress about meals while on vacation. You can only do so much to try and stay on a vegan keto diet, and it’s not the end of the world if you have to go a little bit off plan. Just focus on making the best choices you can make for yourself and don’t fret about the little things.
Being kind to yourself and reducing stress is far more important than those extra few carbs you may consume from having to order hummus at dinner. <3