When was the last time that you cracked open a traditional guidebook (think Lonely Planet), flipped to the dining section, and saw a comprehensive and well-researched section dedicated to vegan travel? How about the last time you found vegan travel books in a bookstore?
Hmmmm…how about never?
If you’ve read any of the mainstream guidebooks, then you’ll be familiar with the normal turns of phrase that the authors spool out in the single sentence aimed at vegetarian travelers: “Vegetarians should be advised that this is a meat-heavy country.” (Vegans are normally completely ignored.)
That’s it. No recommendations, no talk of the plethora of veggie sides that are usually available in many – most – cuisines. It’s not they’re intentionally leaving something out. They’re (hopefully) telling the truth as they see it, from the perspective of someone who eats meat and doesn’t even attempt to search anything else out.
Yet just because someone hasn’t looked for something, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Case in point – Madrid. Before moving to Spain, everyone told us we were going to starve, saying: “Good luck with all the jamón (ham) and vegetable sandwiches filled with tuna, eggs, and mayo.” While those things do exist, we also found countless places serving delicious vegan cuisine throughout the years that we lived in Spain’s capital. The Vegan Society explains further why we need vegan guidebooks.
But I digress.
So what’s a vegan traveler to do, besides dejectedly putting the book back on the bookstore’s shelf, and shuffling out of the store empty-handed with no vegan books to read? While there are many helpful vegan travel blogs out there these days, sometimes you just wanna read a book, amiright?
As we were writing our very own Madrid Vegan Guidebook, I was curious what other vegan travel books were out there. I knew of the fantastic books written by our friends Caitlin and Wendy (more on their books below), but that was about it. Luckily, I found that there are more and more vegan travel books written for vegan travelers, BY vegan travelers. Hopefully, this list will help you on your vegan travels, and if you’re a writer/blogger, inspire you to write a vegan guidebook for your city!
P.S. Many of these books are available free on Kindle Unlimited, Amazon’s monthly book subscription service (grab your free trial of Kindle Unlimited here).
Want to learn more about the benefits of traveling by book and literary travel? Check out our podcast episode:
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And now, onto the blog post!
General Vegan Travel Books
If you’re a newbie to vegan travel or could use some tips, there’s no better place to start than with the following top vegan travel books. Both are insanely helpful, great reads, and applicable no matter where you are traveling (and even if you’re not).
The Essential Vegan Travel Guide – by Caitlin Galer-Unti of The Vegan Word
This book truly lives up to its name. It’s simply essential for the vegan traveler as you can use her advice and tips no matter where you plan to travel. I downloaded it out of curiosity, arrogantly thinking I’d know everything about vegan travel, and I still learned so many new things! Caitlin covers it all, including where to eat, making friends, organizing your trip (we are both organization and planning freaks, as we learned when we traveled together through the Balkans for our vegan Lent Tour!), preparing for your trip, and even easy recipes that you can prepare anywhere.
The book is not only packed with practical information, but it’s a fun and easy read too as Caitlin intersperses her tips with personal and funny anecdotes from her own travels. You can read it all the way through and then skip around to different sections as needed.
She updates the book each year (for example, the 2018 version is 20% longer than the previous version).
Get it on Amazon – it’s available in paperback, Kindle, and Kindle Unlimited.
Veggie Planet by Wendy Werneth of The Nomadic Vegan
Veggie Planet is an absolutely fantastic book by another fellow vegan travel blogger, Wendy Werneth aka The Nomadic Vegan. Throughout Veggie Planet, she highlights ten world cuisines that contain many naturally plant-based dishes, some of which might surprise you! Wendy goes in-depth with each cuisine, telling the story of that country or region’s food culture, detailing the dishes that are plant-based or easily adaptable, and sharing helpful vocabulary to help you on your trip.
The wonderful thing about Veggie Planet is that it can guide you on your travels AND at home, so no matter where you live, you can use the tips that she outlines in the book. It’s a great read and one that will get you inspired to try new foods both in your home city and while on the road. Foodies won’t want to miss this book, just don’t read it too hungry!
Pick it up on Amazon (Kindle, paperback, Kindle Unlimited).
Wendy has also written a quick and free vegan guide: 9 Steps for Easy Vegan Travel, produced in collaboration with Happy Cow.
The Vegan Travel Handbook by Lonely Planet
I’m including this book because it technically is a vegan travel book that exists. However, I’d urge you to purchase either of the above books written by vegan bloggers who would appreciate your support much more than Lonely Planet, who just put together this book to jump on the vegan travel trend.
I find it highly questionable that this book doesn’t even have an author. Excerpts from the book show a lack of understanding about what vegan travel entails: “Your food choices might push you towards certain upgrades, such as a stay at a hotel with a refrigerated mini bar instead of a lower cost guesthouse.” This is not a choice that I have ever heard of a vegan traveler making. In fact, most would prefer a locally owned guest house. The book also mentioned downloading apps to help find vegan food but doesn’t mention Happy Cow, the most comprehensive and helpful vegan travel app out there.
I don’t know who wrote this book, and while it does cover some interesting places, I’d recommend getting a book from an expert – an actual vegan traveler.
The Vegan Society’s vegan phrasebook is a must-have for traveling, especially in countries where there is a more difficult language barrier or where English is less commonly spoken. The book will help you communicate your dietary needs in 78 languages, and includes photos for when words fail. It’s available in book form or as a handy app.
While more and more bloggers are writing vegan city guides (check out this awesome Global Directory of Vegan and Vegetarian Travel Guides), sometimes a blog post just isn’t enough. If you’re like us, you like to get ALL THE INFORMATION in one place, without having to have a bajillion tabs open on your computer, taking notes from each one.
Enter location-specific vegan guidebooks, with all the information you need right in one place! These guides are all written by people who have lived in the cities they’re writing about, so you know they’ve covered all the angles and tried everything they write about.
Barcelona Vegan Guidebook by Caitlin Galer-Unti of The Vegan Word
Caitlin pops up again on this list with her newest vegan guidebook, this one focused specifically on navigating Barcelona as a vegan. Barcelona is known as one of Europe’s vegan hot spots and Caitlin, having lived there a year, shares all the must-eat places and exactly what to get at each place.
Though I’ve been to Barcelona several times, I haven’t yet been as a vegan, and her book made me want to book the next train from Madrid to Barcelona! From the more traditional paella and Spanish pastries to where to get vegan naan filled with cheese (!!!), Caitlin covers it all. The book is broken down into various sections, including where to eat by famous sites, the must-try restaurants and what dishes, and other general helpful tips like getting in and around the city.
Madrid Vegan Guidebook by Sam and Veren of Alternative Travelers
Oh wait, that’s us! After two years of living and eating our way through the Spanish capital, we had created an extensive Ultimate Vegan Guide to Madrid that was over 7,000 words (the guidebook is 5 times larger). It was getting unwieldy but we still had more to say, so we still kept adding to it. When Caitlin published her Barcelona guide, we thought hey – we should do that for Madrid! (Thanks Caitlin for the inspiration). There were (and still are) so few vegan guidebooks that we’d never even considered it as a possibility.
The Madrid Vegan Guidebook is truly your one-stop shop as a vegan or vegetarian visiting Madrid.
Many people assume that eating vegan in Madrid will be difficult because there’s nothing available. Those people are only half right. Eating as a vegan in Madrid might be difficult – but because there are so many options to choose from! Madrid is actually one of the top cities in Europe for vegans. With over 40 completely vegan establishments (ranging from bars to restaurants to cafes and grocery stores), vegan travelers to Madrid needn’t worry one bit.
We’ve created best of sections in many categories (where to get traditional Spanish food made vegan, where to eat with omnivores, dining for those with dietary restrictions, etc.), and describe Madrid’s neighborhoods in neighborhood guides, complete with where to eat and what’s best at each place.
Of course, the bulk of the guide focuses on finding the best vegan food in Madrid. But we’ve also included extra information like best day trips (and where to eat vegan of course, as smaller towns are much more difficult in Spain), using public transportation (including local tips) and alternative sights to see in Madrid instead of the usual touristy ones.
Taiwan: A Travel Guides for Vegans – Jesse Duffield
Jesse (of the blog Vegan Taiwan) has a couple of incredibly detailed books focused on traveling in Asia as a vegan. He has the same attitude toward food writing as we do, paying for all meals and accommodations himself so that he can give unbiased reviews.
Jesse’s first book, Taiwan: A Travel Guide for Vegans is over 400 pages and packed with tons of information. Naturally, he covers dining out as a vegan in Taiwan with restaurant reviews with information like photos, price ranges, and more. But the book goes much further than that, with recommended itineraries throughout Taiwan (including Taipei) and helpful tips for getting around. After reading the book, I wanted to make travel plans to Taiwan immediately!
He just updated the book in March of 2020 so you can be assured that all the information is completely up to date. Buy it here!
Japan: A Travel Guide for Vegans by Jesse Duffield
Jesse’s second book, Japan: A Travel Guide for Vegans uses the same great format as his first book (see above). It’s packed with a tremendous amount of restaurant recommendations but also detailed itineraries for planning your trip. He covers navigating getting by even if you don’t speak Japanese, explains the different types of accommodation options, and includes a brief overview of the history, politics, and culture of Japan. I truly enjoyed reading
But naturally for the vegan foodie, the star is the food! In the Vegan Travel Facebook group that I admin, people often express disappointment at not being able to find vegan meals in Japan. As Jesse deftly explains in his book, his is because even though many traditional dishes may be mostly plant-based, they are usually made with a base of fish stock, lard, or topped with fish or meat. Never fear, because this book gives all the recommendations you could possibly ever need. Including vegan bento boxes, yesss!!!
I have to say that Japan has long been one of my dream destinations, but if often gets a bad rap for vegan-friendliness. I’m so happy to have found this book to make my vegan foodie dreams come true in Japan one day!
Las Vegas Vegan Food Guide by Diana Edelman of Vegans, Baby!
A fellow former Madrid expat, Diana of Vegans, Baby is now the reigning plant-based queen of Las Vegas. Her blog Vegans, Baby! details all the vegan goings-on in the city. She also offers vegan food tours of the city.
In the Las Vegas Vegan Food Guide, she discusses the best of the best of vegan food that the city has to offer. If you’re visiting Las Vegas, you’ll know right where to go in order to maximize your trip. She has “best ofs” for more than 30 categories, including best brunch, best spot to eat with omnivores, the best burgers, the best casinos for vegan food, the best coffee houses, the best desserts (including donuts!), the best places to eat as a vegan for a variety of cuisines (Ethiopian, Chinese, Mexican, Indian, Italian, Mediterranean, etc), and much more. If you have special dietary restrictions or needs, she’s also got sections for gluten-free and raw eaters.
Basically, think of the guide as your streamlined version to her extensive website, which is an absolute wealth of information on the vegan dining scene in Las Vegas, but might be too much to sort through for a visitor to the city.
Vegan Travel Books: Memoirs
I just started getting into memoirs a few years ago. They’re a great way to dive into and better understand someone else’s experiences and stories. There aren’t many vegan travel memoirs so far, but there are a couple!
If there’s one thing that you need to know about this book, it’s that it is laugh out loud HILARIOUS. Quite literally, as there were countless times when I was reading and guffawed out loud, to the chagrin of my partner (and co writer of this website), Veren. There may have even been a time or two when I was sucked into a story and ended up reading late into the night, only to wake him up with my bursts of laugher (#sorrynotsorry).
The Dogs of Nam is a book of short stories from the author’s lessons learned abroad (also the name of Chris’s blog) over his decade+ of travel adventures. From a brush with danger in the Costa Rican jungle to shitty (literally) mishaps in a Buddhist monastery, this is one very transporting read. I read it at the beginning of the travel lockdown in March of 2020, pleased to be distracted by some travel nostalgia for the good old days when we could all travel free (though of course, we will again!).
While not every story is explicitly “vegan travel” related, the author is a long time vegan, which naturally comes up throughout the book as he either searches for snacks or tries to explain veganism to fellow travelers or locals. There’s even a chapter titled “A Vegan in Mongolia” which
I give Chris massive amounts of credit for sharing some of the stories that he does. There are super personal and embarrassing ones that make for amazingly honest and enjoyable travel writing. The short stories format is perfect for picking up here and there, or do like I did and just binge read them all in a few days!
Will Travel for Vegan Food by Kristin Lajeunesse of Will Travel for Vegan Food
In 2012, Kristin Lajeunesse quit her job and bought a van for the sole purpose of eating in EVERY vegan restaurant in the United States. This memoir tells the story of her journey. Over two years, she ate in 547 restaurants in 48 states, the ultimate foodie adventure!
But her book is about more than food and will appeal to anyone who has (or has wanted to) leave it all behind to follow their passions. It may just ignite some wanderlust!
Want more vegan foodie travel? Check out our popular vegan city guides and get your travel wanderlust on!
Vegan Cookbooks on World Cuisines
If you’re not able to travel right now, never fear! You can travel from the comfort of your own kitchen with these vegan cookbooks focusing on world cuisines.
My Vegan Travels: Comfort Food Inspired by Adventure by Jackie Kearney
Jackie Kearney is a vegan chef and former MasterChef finalist – so you know her recipes will be top notch. In this cookbook, she teaches you how to make 75 classic comfort food recipes from around the world. You’ll be able to make and devour dishes like French Onion Soup with Cashew Cheese Croutons, Campfire Risotto with Asparagus and Lemon, Shami Kebab with Naan, Singaporean Laksa, and more. She’s even got a section dedicated to American classics, like the New York Reuben and a Texan Breakfast Burrito.
If you love Asian food, she also has an entire cookbook dedicated to cooking delicious dishes from across Asia, Vegan Street Food: Foodie Travels from India to Indonesia.
Happy Herbivore Abroad by Lindsay Nixon
Part cookbook, part travelogue, get ready to travel the world through the beautiful photos, stories, and recipes in this book. Another one in her Happy Herbivore cookbook series, author Lindsay Nixon focuses on making low fat, healthy plant-based recipes with everyday ingredients – no searching for fancy salts or spices! The book is interspersed with her stories from living on a Caribbean island and her extensive travels abroad.
Vegan Eats World: 300 International Recipes for Savoring the Planet by Terry Hope Romero
Terry Hope Romero is the award-winning chef and co-author behind the insanely popular vegan cookbook, Veganomicon. In Vegan Eats World, she shares literally hundreds of recipes to answer the question, “what if the world was vegan?” If you’re new to cooking vegan (or cooking in general), she also gives general cooking and kitchen tips – don’t worry about being thrown in the deep end here! With recipes from Ethiopia to Poland as well as options for those on a budget, with allergies, eating low fat, or with limited time, this book is sure to please everyone, whether you’re vegan or not!
She’s written many other cookbooks, but if you’re interested in Latin food, don’t miss Viva Vegan!: 200 Authentic and Fabulous Recipes for Latin Food Lovers.
The Lotus and the Artichoke: Vegan Recipes from World Adventures by Justin Moore
Justin has a series of cookbooks inspired by his world adventures, but this one covers it all. Discover new and local dishes from India, China, Southeast Asia, and Africa as well as classic dishes you may already know from Europe and the United States. Most recipes come accompanied with beautiful color photographs that’ll inspire you to get cooking!
Justin’s an American expat living in vegan heaven (aka Berlin), so the book is available in German as well if you’re more comfortable in that language! He also has cookbooks for Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Mexico, and India as well as many recipes for these countries and more on his website.
The Global Vegan by Ellie Bullen
Instagram star Ellie of Elsa’s Wholesome Life recently published her second book focused on recipes from her travels in Indonesia, India, Korea and Japan, and beyond. Recipes include vegan ‘Calamari’, Tom Kha Gai Soup or Aloo Jeera, fish n chips, Portuguese custard tarts, Pad Thai, Spicy Ramen, and more.
Ellie is a qualified dietitian and nutritionist, so she includes a whole chapter on vegan nutrition, going over essential micro and macronutritents to include in your diet.
I have not read this one yet, but I imagine it’s better in paperback version to see her beautiful travel photographs in full color!
Have you read any of these vegan books? Are there any vegan travel books or world vegan cookbooks we missed? Please let us know in the comments so we can add them!