I recently returned from a quick four and a half day trip to Ireland to travel the Irish countryside with a new boy I’ve been dating in Atlanta, who was touring Europe for a few weeks. This was my first international trip since I started being vegan about a year ago (Yes! I hit the one year mark in June!). I planned to be the best vegan I could possibly be, even if that meant consuming more alcohol than food on some nights. Before my trip, I did a little research and found two very resourceful websites: The Vegan Society of Ireland (http://veganireland.vegaplanet.org/) and a Frommer’s Vegan & Vegetarian Guide to Ireland (http://vegans.frommars.org/ireland/). Even though I found some restaurant options, I knew I was traveling with a carnivore so I stocked up on vegan snacks before I left, with two different kinds of granola bars and pistachios to last me the entire trip.
I really can’t believe there are vegans in Ireland, especially because I saw more cows and sheep than people in many of those small Irish towns. Even though there seemed to be plenty of vegan food places, we found ourselves planning very little and stumbling into Irish pubs or small local restaurants when we got hungry. There usually weren’t many options for me on the menu. One time the restaurant had the following options for lunch: Special, Toasted Special, Ham & Cheese Sandwich, and Toasted Ham & Cheese Sandwich. When we asked what the Special was, the server said in his thick Irish accent, “Oh man, it’s a ham and cheese sandwich with tomatoes and onions, and you can have it toasted or not.” Luckily, almost every restaurant had a vegetarian soup, made mostly with carrots which I had pretty much every day for lunch. My dinner was also very consistent, I had roasted potatoes and cooked mixed vegetables, which is usually the side for a big piece of Irish meat. It really wasn’t that bad – the Irish really know how to make some great potatoes. I got by with pretty much the same food items for lunch and dinner, supplemented by pistachios. We also managed to go to a grocery store while we were there to pick up some more granola bars and a few bananas. I definitely didn’t go hungry.
My recommendation to you, if you’re vegan and traveling to Ireland: definitely bring snacks and seek out some vegetarian or vegan restaurants for some more variety. Just like with any international experience, it’s probably there somewhere… you just have to find it. Overall, I had a wonderful time in Ireland and feel much more comfortable traveling internationally as a vegan. I did, however, start with an English speaking country. I can’t imagine speaking to a server who doesn’t know a word of English and trying to explain that I don’t eat meat, dairy, eggs, etc. I’ll have to see how it goes because it looks like I have a few more international trips coming up this next year!