san diego

VEGAN TRAVEL TIPS

As you all know, I absolutely love travelling and have shared lots of vegan travel posts on this blog and on my YouTube channel over the past couple of years. So, when I was asked to give a speech at the first ever Surrey Vegan Fair (which took place last weekend), I decided to talk about: MY TOP TIPS TO MAKE TRAVELLING AS A VEGAN AS FUN, EASY & STRESS-FREE AS POSSIBLE! It was such a fun experience and I think the tips are all super helpful, so I decided to write them up into a blog post so that you can all access them any time you like! If you have any tips to add, be sure to write them in the comments down below!

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RESEARCH RESTAURANTS

I always set aside around an hour before going on a trip to research vegan / vegan-friendly restaurants in location where I’ll be staying. The main resources I use to do this are:

  • Happy Cow – great website for finding vegan & vegan-friendly restaurants
  • Blogs – google vegan (location) i.e. vegan LA and lots of blogs will pop up
  • YouTube – search vegan (location) and you can watch loads of travel diaries / guides
  • Instagram – searching #vegan(location) is a great way to find delicious looking food
  • Google / Apple maps –  go to the maps app on your smartphone, type in ‘vegan (location)‘, it will pop up with a whole bunch of pins and you can find restaurants near where you’ll be staying

After I’ve done a little research, I prepare a list of the top restaurants that I want to visit and take that with me on my trip.

BE PREPARED

Being prepared will require a little bit of pre-planning but it will save you so much time and stress on your trip so will definitely be worth it. There are 3 main ways I prepare:

  • Take snacks: As you’ll probably be going on trips / exploring during the day, you won’t always be able to plan where you’ll be and if there’ll be a vegan restaurant near by. I therefore like to take snacks with me, and any type of protein / breakfast bar such as Clif bars are great, as they’re filling and fuel you for your day.
  • Find a supermarket / health food store near by: before my trip, I always do a quick google search to see if there’s a store nearby where I’ll be staying, so that I know I’ll be able to buy snacks there, and therefore don’t have to bring them with me.
  • Contact in advance:
    • The accommodation I’ll be staying at to see if they offer vegan meals or if anything they serve can be veganised.
    • The airline I’ll be flying with to book a vegan meal for the flight.

USE A LANGUAGE AID

If you’re travelling to a country where you don’t speak the native language, you’ll need a way to communicate your dietary needs. The way I do this is to:

  • Learn how to say: ‘vegan / vegetarian no eggs or dairy‘ if I feel comfortable speaking in the native language (which doesn’t happen very often).
  • Save translated phrase on phone / print card: before my trip I use google translate to translate the phrase ‘vegan / vegetarian no eggs or dairy‘. I then print screen it and save it as a photo on my phone to show to the waiters/waitresses in any restaurants I visit. You could also write out / type up a card to take with you and keep in your wallet.
  • Learn specific cultural things to look out for: for example, in Thailand fish oil is often added to lots of dishes, so it would be useful to take a card with you saying ‘no fish oil, please’ in Thai.
  • Siri is your friend: iPhone’s siri and similar voice-recognition softwares on other smartphones can be so handy on your trip! For instance, when my mum and I were in Italy last year, I activated siri and said ‘find dairy-free ice-cream near me’ and it led us to a great little gelateria that served delicious vegan ice-cream!

MAKE YOUR TRIP VEGAN-FRIENDLY

If you don’t have a particular place in mind to travel to, there are plenty of ways that you can make your trip vegan-friendly:

  • If possible:
    • Choose a vegan-friendly location: PETA releases an annual list of the Top 10 Vegan-Friendly Citites, so choosing one of these cities to visit is a great idea
    • Go on a vegan specific holiday: there are now lots of vegan-specific holidays you can go on, such as vegan cruises and vegan camping trips! These trips are a great way to not only enjoy delicious food, but also to meet like-minded people. A quick google search will pull up lots of vegan holiday options.
  • Find vegan hotels: I use the website veggie-hotels.com to find vegetarian / vegan hotels all over the world.
  • Stay in an apartment / airbnb / hostel: or anywhere where you have access to a kitchen so that you can veganise your holiday by cooking your own food. This is also a great way to save money!

MY TOP 5 VEGAN CITIES

In case you’re looking for ideas of great vegan-friendly places for your next trip, here are my top 5 vegan-friendly cities that I’ve visited!

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  • LA, San Francisco & San Diego in California are collectively by far the most vegan-friendly places I’ve ever visited. Matt and I ate every type of vegan food you can imagine during our trip, and got most of it delivered to our hotel rooms! There are also so many fun things to do and lots of beautiful beaches to hang out at.
  • New York is such an awesome city with so many fun touristy places to visit. It also has a great vegan-food scene, so is definitely worth a visit.
  • Berlin has so much historic culture to explore and also is insanely vegan friendly. During mine and my mum’s visit, we stayed in a vegetarian hotel, visited lots of vegan restaurants, and even shopped at Veganz – an entirely vegan supermarket.
  • Sydney, especially the Bondi Beach area, is filled with awesome vegan restaurants and also has so many fun places to explore.
  • Queenstown is hands down the most beautiful place I’ve ever visited and it was made even better by the fact that we found lots of great vegan-friendly restaurants there!

ANIMAL ATTRACTIONS

When travelling as a vegan, you want to ensure you don’t support any unethical tourist attractions that exploit animals. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t interact with animals on your holiday; in fact, travel provides a great opportunity to see animals in their natural environment and perhaps even to volunteer at a conservation project / animal sanctuary. And fear not, as for every unethical tourist attraction, there is an awesome alternative:

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VIDEO OF MY FULL SPEECH

If you would like more detailed tips, you can watch my full speech from the event here:

VEGAN USA GUIDE | LA, SAN FRANCISCO, SAN DIEGO & LAS VEGAS

Hey everyone!

After just over two weeks travelling around the USA, I am now back in the UK and am finally getting back to my normal routine after losing almost a week to jet lag, seriously. I’d like to say that was an exaggeration but unfortunately it isn’t; for almost an entire week I was practically nocturnal – going to bed at 6am and waking up at 3pm!!

Anyway, now that I’m back home (and awake in daylight hours!) I’ve been reminiscing about all of the fun things that we did and all of the delicious vegan food we ate, and there certainly was a lot of it. We started our trip in LA, then we headed to San Francisco, then to San Diego and finally Las Vegas! I loved every one of these cities in a different way and all of them had an amazing vegan food scene (we’re talking everything from deliciously healthy cafes to late night pizza deliveries).

As always, I wanted to take you all along with me as much as possible, so I vlogged our entire trip, posted restaurant reviews, and also instagramed a lot of our #veganfoodporn! However, there were also lots of eateries we ate at that I didn’t get a chance to share with you guys, so I thought I’d create this blog post to collate all of my  vlogs and restaurant reviews from our trip, as well as adding in some of the other eateries we loved.

If you guys are from the US/travelling to the US/just curious about what the US has to offer, then I hope you find this post useful :).

ps – if you have a favourite vegan friendly eatery in any of these locations, be sure to comment it down below!

LOS ANGELES

Blog posts ▷▷▷ Fala Bar

Other vegan friendly eateries we visited ▷▷▷ Johnny Rockets, Ben & Jerry’sJamba Juice, DoomiesSuperfood Cafe, Satdha, Fresh Brothers, Taco Bell & Seed Kitchen

LA VLOG #1 ▷▷▷

LA VLOG #2 ▷▷▷

LA VLOG #3 ▷▷▷

SAN FRANCISCO

Blog posts ▷▷▷ Seed and Salt

Other vegan friendly eateries we visited ▷▷▷ Loving Hut & Patxis Pizza

SAN FRANCISCO VLOG ▷▷▷

SAN DIEGO

Blog posts ▷▷▷ Amardeen CafeKindred & Lean and Green Cafe

Other vegan friendly eateries we visited ▷▷▷ Craft Pizza Company

SAN DIEGO VLOG ▷▷▷

LAS VEGAS

Vegan friendly eateries we visited ▷▷▷ Wynn BuffetSlice of Vegas & Violette’s vegan

LAS VEGAS VLOG ▷▷▷

Which place would you guys most like to visit?

Vegan San Diego | Lean and Green Cafe

My final San Diego eatery post is about an awesome little cafe we ate at near La Jolla Cove:

Lean and Green Organic Health Bar ▷▷▷

Lean and Green Cafe uses fresh, locally sourced, organic ingredients and has lots of vegan options, so we were really excited to check it out.

Smoothies ▷▷▷

At home I usually make smoothies for breakfast every day and I really missed that whilst travelling; so, I was really happy to find somewhere that made smoothies with fresh, organic fruit. I ordered the Peach Dream – made of peach nectar, mangos, bananas and raspberries – and Matt had the Strawberry Bliss – made of apple juice, strawberries and bananas. They were both so refreshing and delicious and definitely the healthy, goodness we needed.

ps – I also love that Lean and Green Cafe use Greenware smoothie cups which are made entirely from plants – how awesome is that?!

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Wraps ▷▷▷

Lean and Green Cafe offer a great variety of vegan options including salads, wraps and rice bowls; however, Matt and I both decided to go for one of the freshly made wraps. I ordered the Vegan Delight made up of a mix of delicious veggies, spinach and avocado; and Matt decided to order a make your own veggie wrap. He went for a bit of a weird combo: sun-dried tomatoes, beans, tofu, avocado, mushrooms & spinach but it totally worked and was actually really good!

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If you’re looking for filling, nutritious, organic vegan food in San Diego, be sure to head to Lean and Green Cafe. They currently have 2 locations in San Diego: La Jolla and Sorrento Valley; however, we chatted to the Cafe’s lovely owner during our visit and he told us about some exciting new franchising opportunities meaning that more Lean and Green Cafes may be popping up soon!

Vegan San Diego | Kindred

Today I’m back to tell you guys about another awesome restaurant that we found in San Diego:

Kindred ▷▷▷

Kindred is an cool and edgy bar/restaurant that serves unique cocktails and inventive vegan food, all whilst playing death-metal tunes (not in a super intense way but in a this place has majorly cool vibes way). The staff are all super friendly and helpful and the decor is on point – hello white marble tables!

Drinks ▷▷▷

Before we get into the food, let’s talk about the cocktails, as 2 pages of the 4 page menu are made up of Kindred’s huge variety of creative drinks, so it’s only fair that they get a special mention. Now, I don’t really drink that often and when I do I usually stick to the same cocktails (pina colada & porn star martini) so it was exciting to mix it up and try the Depth Dweller which is made up of Strawberry Infused Rum, Campari and Lime. It was super fruity and delicious and had just the right amount of kick.

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Starters ▷▷▷

To start off the meal, Matt ordered the Chargrilled Seitan Skewers which looked and tasted insanely like meat (and kinda freaked me out); but if like a lot of people you like the taste/texture of meat but also love animals then this would definitely be the perfect dish for you! Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to get any good pictures of this dish -mood lighting + an iPhone camera doesn’t exactly make for the best photography – but don’t worry there are plenty of mouth-watering food photos coming up.

Mains ▷▷▷

For main I had the Seared Cauliflower Steak. The cauliflower ‘steak’ was served with orange squash puree, tahini beets, little puff pastries and steak sauce. This creative combination made this one of the most gourmet style vegan dishes I’ve ever eaten and it was absolutely delicious.

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Matt ordered the Salt & Vinegar Seared Gardein, which was basically a super fancy and delicious vegan ‘fish’ style dish. It was topped with crispy battered onion rings that were absolutely amazing and complemented the ‘fish’ and tartar sauce perfectly!

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Even though we were both so full, when we saw the Cookie Dough Truffles on the dessert menu we knew we could make a little more room and it was so worth it as they were my favourite part of the meal!

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Kindred is such a fun place with great vibes, so if you’re in the San Diego area and fancy a great drink and/or some delicious vegan food then be sure to check it out!

Vegan San Diego | Amardeen Cafe

The third stop of our USA trip was the awesome city of San Diego where we stayed near the insanely cool La Jolla Cove. We got to hang out and snorkel on the beach where all of these beautiful sea lions live and it was pretty much my highlight of our trip, as you all know how much I love animals!

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Aside from trying to make friends with as many animals as possible, we of course also ate lots of delicious vegan food whilst in San Diego, and I’m really excited to tell you guys about one of our favourite restaurants of the entire trip today:

Amardeen Cafe ▷▷▷

When Matt and I were at University we were obsessed with a little cafe that served awesome vegan lebanese food; so we were super excited when we found out that there was a Lebanese restaurant (Amardeen Cafe) a short walk away from our hotel.

When we arrived at Amardeen Cafe we were greeted by the lovely Mark, whose parents own the restaurant. He explained to us that Amardeen serves a huge variety of authentic lebanese dishes, and that lots of them are naturally vegan. Mark very kindly offered to create a meza especially for us so that we could try out all of the vegan options Amardeen Cafe has to offer, and there were a lot of delicious dishes!

So, I’m going to chat you guys through the vegan options we tried out, and have put a little star (*) next to my 3 faves in case you need help choosing what to order as there are so many delicious options to choose from!

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ROUND 1  ▷▷▷

Pita bread & pita chips – I’d never tried pita chips before, and boy have I been missing out! They were so crispy and flavourful and tasted amazing dipped in hummus!

Hummus – Amardeen’s hummus is freshly made and is definitely one of the best I’ve ever tried.

Garlic spread – this dish was another one that I’d never tried before, and for someone like me who adds garlic to pretty much everything, it’s basically the perfect spread!

Tabouleh – you all know that I’m not a huge salad lover (#badvegan), but I was definitely a fan of the tabouleh/falafel/pita bread/hummus/garlic spread combination.

Spinach fatayer – Matt was super jealous that he couldn’t try these delicious little spinach parcels (as they contain nuts) but I definitely wasn’t complaining about having to eat both of them!

Falafel* – now, as a big falafel lover I have tried a lot of different falafel, so believe me when I say that these falafels were amazing! They were light & fluffy on inside, crispy on the outside and bursting with flavour – a definite must try if you visit Amardeen Cafe!

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ROUND 2  ▷▷▷

Squash kebeh – this is one of the most complex dishes to make and is traditionally made from meat, so it was really cool to be able to try out the veganised version.

Cauliflower tagine* – conversely, this dish is one of the simplest to make (just fry cauliflower & cover in tahini) but it is SO delicious and definitely one I’ll be trying to recreate at home!

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ROUND 3  ▷▷▷

M’jadra – this brown lentil based dish lasted under 2 minutes around Matt (I think it’s safe to say he was a fan) but the little bit I did manage to try before he wolfed it down tasted great, especially when coupled with the moussaka.

Moussaka* – this spicy eggplant and garbanzo bean dish was so flavourful and delicious and definitely one of my favourites!

Thank you so much to Mark and his family for hosting us at their restaurant. It was awesome to have the opportunity to try out all of the delicious vegan dishes and to also learn a bit about the Lebanese traditions and culture from Mark.

If you’re in San Diego and would like to try out some authentic, vegan Lebanese cuisine, be sure to head to Amardeen Cafe and ask for them to chat you through the vegan options, I’m sure you’ll love it just as much as we did!