Friday, May 23, 2014

Traveling as a vegan


Almost 6,5 years ago I started to live as a vegan. To many surprise it has actually not been as difficult as many think it is and I even thought it would be. 
 
Well, the reactions have been hard at times. Suddenly people become food experts and try to make you feel bad about something which is quite the opposite. But no discussions here, just my tips and experiences.

I saw and still see it as a hobby. I learned a lot about food and health since and really enjoyed it, even if  my basic reason was and still is not using other beings as a product, a thing, an object. It enriched my life more than I ever thought possible.

But what about when you travel?!

You would think perhaps that traveling as a vegan is difficult. I haven’t experienced it like that at all and again it's more how people react that bothers me. I’ve traveled to India, Morocco, several places in Europe, Turkey, Brazil and Ecuador since I am living as a vegan. So I dare to say: I am experienced. 

Maybe it's all new to you or still difficult, I hope the 4 points below will help you further.
 


To travel veganlicious:


1. Vegan language
First thing I do is write down and learn words in the language of the country I am going to or am in. Words such as: vegan, vegetables, meat, and: (no) milk, eggs, honey, butter, meat, chicken, fish, wool, leather, animal products and such.
Most of the time I know the words for food, example ‘rice’, ‘bread’ and such before learning any other words in a language.
It’s smart to anyway download a (offline) dictionary onto your phone. 
  
A must-have for the vegan(-minded) travelers among us is the Vegan Passport. It’s great! 
In many languages it’s explained what vegans do and don't eat. There’s even a page, see the image above, where if anything else fails images can be shown.
I have used it many times, also for people who wanted to know what veganism is.


2. To eat or not to eat out
Cooking for yourself is most easy if you want to be sure of eating vegan. Everywhere fruits, vegetables, rice, seeds, nuts and such can be found. Go to the (super)markets and just in case bring that dictionary along.
The ingredients and tastes can be different from what you are used to. In that case be creative, try things out or look up new recipes.

In some countries like Brazil tofu is for example very expensive and hard to find. Also many pasta's are made with egg. Enough other good things you can find. Every country has its unique and delicious things. Like the cacao and chocolate in Ecuador is just hmmmmmmmm... Chocolate with lemongrass! Or I make my own: cacao, cocos oil, stevia or panela and I love inside pure peanut butter mixed with some panela. So simple, so delicious. 

When traveling with the bus and plane, always take something with you, it has happened more often to me that the ordered vegan meal wasn’t there.
Sometimes a bus makes a stop. Everybody starts eating, but the only thing I found was a bag of natural chips to eat. In this case, be prepared or just eat/live simple for that short period.
 
The nice thing was, that eating out in Sao Paulo was hardly any more expensive than cooking myself. So I preferred going out... to a vegan restaurant with almost daily a great buffet.

The best website for finding vegan, vegetarian, veg-friendly restaurants, organic supermarkets and such is Happy Cow. You can read and leave recommendations there, add information or a restaurant.

I have eaten so veganlicious in vegan as well as in vegetarian restaurants. Most of the times the last has at least one vegan dish or could make one. Even 'meat restaurants' can...
In a pizzeria they made pizza without cheese for me, though it inspired them to gossip.
Also in almost every country you can find fries/potato chips, but don't forget to ask about the kind of oil it's fried in.

I try to stimulate and promote vegan restaurants and I don't like to see or smell animal products. Just saying what’s possible. 

I have eaten the best vegan cakes, ice-cream, food in my life while traveling!


3. No! A mistake!
Sometimes something goes wrong. People don’t always understand what being a vegan is means or you are so used something being standard vegan that you make a mistake.

Once in a restaurant they said I could choose between two desserts, but read the menu and one had honey in it. And oil can be meat or vegetable oil. In India for example a lot of ghee, a butter kind, is being used in dishes.

One time I probably ate something which had meat oil in it. Someone gave some vegetables to me and I wasn't thinking. It tasted different and not much later got sick to my stomach. Someone told me it was probably the oil…
Even if all the whole grain bread in bakeries here in Ecuador where I am, seem to be vegan, I ask in every bakery sometimes twice if there is no milk, butter and all in it.

I have a paper with me with all the E-numbers that are not or has a change of not being vegan. http://www.food-info.net/nl/qa/qa-fi45.htm 

Many countries don't work with the numbers, but the names. For the E-numbers/names in English: LINK


4. A vegan among others
I always say infiltrate and integrate...

I've met great non-vegan people, who cooked vegan for me or went out eating vegan with me. It can be nice and smart though when you are especially traveling for a longer time to meet or stay (through Couchsurfing for example) with other vegans.
They can help you out, give tips for certain places, recipes and foods. 
Not having discussions or having to cook in a kitchen with animal products, meat smelling pans ruining your food, is also a nice reason. 


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I focused on vegan food in this blog, but living as a vegan is more than food.
In Brazil for example, I found vegan, non-animal-tested, shampoos and soaps.


I've found that traveling as a vegan isn’t hard at all. Especially if you see it as a hobby, as fun, you will find and enjoy more vegan things than you thought possible.


Your tips, experiences, questions, remarks below the blog are more than welcome. 

2 comments:

  1. Great tips Viv! You can eat vegan anywhere. :)

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    1. Indeed you can. I like that every country has it's special fruits and vegetables... I never seen or eaten before. Or things are cheaper, like (unsweetened) cacao in Ecuador and Peru. Here in Peru sweet potatoes are even more cheap than normal ones... and I always have loved those.

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