Road trips provide wonderful opportunities to see the more subtle, hidden aspects of America. Since they’re entirely customizable to your personal preferences, you can decide to visit the country’s weirdest roadside attractions (you’ve always wanted to see a four-story home made exclusively out of beer cans and scrap metal, right?) or focus on a comfort food trip down south. However, America has two neighbors — one of which is known for its flavorful food and colorful culture — so why not make warm and beautiful Mexico your destination?
“Well, it’s simple,” you say in protest, “I’m vegan!” It may be difficult to imagine that a country now known for its extensive use of cheeses and meats could offer enough sustenance for vegans, but almost everywhere you go, from street food to high-class restaurants, boasts some form of vegan-friendly option; in addition to the fact that veganism has blown up in the U.S. (the number of vegans has increased 600% in the last three years!) which encourages tourism to keep up with the trend, Mexico’s staple food products, such as corn, beans, and rice, are all vegan. The trick to making the best out of a Mexican-Vegan road trip lies in three things: preparing your vehicle, knowing important food-related lingo, and practicing smart and safe behaviors.
The Proof Is In The Prep
Any good road trip requires a vehicle checklist. Whether you’re starting out in Tuscon, right along the border, or you’re venturing from wintry Michigan, you need to make sure your car can handle the journey, and your body can handle the car. Schedule a routine maintenance check to ensure the engine, battery, and brakes are all in tip-top shape, and have your oil changed.
Then, shop for the road! Though many cities offer vegan options, rest stops usually only have vending machines and fast food joints: be sure to pack plenty of vegan snacks — this will also save you money along the way! If after a few days of driving you’re hankering for a real meal, use the HappyCow app; it’s free to download and points out the nearest vegan restaurants and eateries, no sweat! Other apps include Plant Eaters and The Vegan Society, the latter of which contains a multi-language phrasebook to help you order vegan-friendly dishes.
Learn The Lingo
The primary language in Mexico is Spanish, so, in order to guarantee that the food you’re receiving is truly vegan, you’re going to need to learn some Spanish phrases. A few of the basics include:
- Yo soy vegana (female) / Yo soy vegano (male). — I am vegan.
- Tienes comida vegetariana? — Do you have vegetarian food?
- Tienes leche de soya, almendra o coco? — Do you have soy, almond, or coconut milk?
- Sin carne/leche/queso — without meat, milk, cheese.
There are also plenty of dishes that are inherently vegan, such as elotes: grilled corn on a stick that’s topped with lime, chili, and salt. Yum!
Though Mexico has gained a bit of a reputation for crime, you should have no problems as long as you stay in the bustling regions. The country is truly too beautiful to miss because of fear or hesitance, so researching your route extensively and far in advance (which includes sharing your itinerary with friends and family) can guarantee a wonderful, safe trip.
However, it is important to get the required vaccinations before leaving the United States; vaccines prevent around 2.5 million unnecessary deaths every year, but the vaccines you receive depend on the prevalence of disease in the areas you’re headed to. Mexico is known specifically for typhoid (which is why the CDC recommends you drink bottled water), though hepatitis A is also a risk. Make an appointment with your doctor to find out what they measures they recommend you take before your big trip.
There are over 214 million licensed drivers in the U.S., and many of them have never left the state they were born in. If you have a chance to see the world, even if it’s only one other country, you simply can’t pass it up. With so much to see, learn, and experience, an adventurous road trip to Mexico is the best way to begin.