From my many expeditions around the world, and with that a hopeless amount of food poisoning, gluten and dairy intolerances aside, I tend to stick to mainly a vegetarian diet. I find in general meat quite hard to digest, so unless I venture to Argentina – where I absolutely WILL be trying the steak – much to the annoyance of my traditional, Jewish father David, then I tend to stick to a plant-based diet as much as possible. But I wouldn’t consider myself VEGAN, and therefore, who better to explain the best way to travel when you actually are vegan than by a real vegan herself? Meet Danya, guest writer for this particular diet-inspired post, to explain how she managed to travel around Asia vegan – and how best you can do it too!
If you’re vegan, vegetarian, or indeed suffer from any possible intolerance – then HappyCow is your NEW best friend! HappyCow (which is both a website and an app) lets you search by name or location for veggie/vegan food places all over the globe – yes that’s right, the whole world! It even shows you normal restaurants that offer veggie/vegan options. But it’s not just for the animal lovers, it allows users to filter their search by gluten free and raw making it accessible for pretty much anyone. So, don’t fret – even in the most remote corners of Vietnam, you can politely decline the offer of dog meat (as delightful as that sounds) with the knowledge you’re eating at a cruelty-free restaurant down the road. You’re welcome!
LEARN SOME VEGAN LINGO YO
Go on google translate and save phrases such as ‘I do not eat: milk/meat/gluten’ in the local language in notes on your phone. Unbeknown to many, at one point I could say I do not eat meat in 10 languages! Make sure you save the English version for yourself to say, but also the native version for when you inevitably say it wrong and they ask to read it. Not all diets are well known in some countries so it helps people to understand you by thinking of other words too. For example, my friend who was gluten free translated the word gluten in Indonesian but hardly anyone knew what it meant, so she added things like flour and wheat to her list so she could ask if food contained ingredients that contained gluten. Having words written down was also perfect for checking against the ingredients in crisps and sweets which was done far too often.
USE SOCIAL MEDIA TO YOUR ADVANTAGE
Use the internet and social media. Join Facebook groups, search relevant hashtags to do with veganism and the country on Instagram and read blogs. 10-15 mins quick searching can give you a whole wealth of options. If there’s one thing people love it’s posting food pics so you can find Instagrammable food in minutes that suits your diet! If you’re feeling lazy, join travel facebook groups for wherever you’re going and just ask the question on there, people are always happy to help.
Every country has its own traditional cuisine and food culture which always has some naturally ‘free-from’ dishes. If you’re visiting a country, spend a little time looking up the typical food, as often religion can have a strong influence and can mean some excellent, diet-friendly food for you. Take Vietnam, known for its exotic, meaty street foods. The majority of the population is Buddhist and eat “An Chay” – which means vegetarian in Vietnamese – on the 1st and 15th day of each month (on the lunar calendar). Many restaurants are closed on these days since they don’t offer vegetarian dishes, but many ‘veg-ify’ their dishes on these special days. The stricter Buddhists eat “An chay” all the time, so there are loads of cheap, delicious ‘An chay’ restaurants open year round. A few minutes researching Vietnamese culture meant A LOT of amazing meals for me.
CREATE YOUR OWN
Come on now people, don’t be lazy. Buy a little travelling Tupperware tub with a lid and it will CHANGE YOUR TRAVELLING LIFE FOREVER. You can actually find some great non plastic options at TreeTop Travel – not an ad, just want to be environmentally friendly. You can put takeaway food for later in there. You can make noodles in there (just add hot water). You can make instant oats or overnight oats in there (buy bananas and peanut butter to mix in, Instagram eat your heart out). You can put literally anything edible in there. 27 hour train in India with no (hygienic) food stops? NO PROBLEM! #lifechanger
And so there ya have it, how to travel the world as a vegan! Not so difficult in this day and age is it now! Thanks Danya for this epic article! Keep tuned for more guest posts. Watch this space.