In November 2011, I made the decision to progress towards a plant-based diet and lifestyle. Since then, I have learnt so much about where our food comes from, and what it does to our bodies and the environment. Along the way, I have encountered many obstacles and challenges. I have also been asked lots of questions, most of them valid and a few off them more than a little odd. One of the aims of my blog is to chronicle my experiences as a plant-based traveller. So, hopefully these Plant-Based Pauses will provide a little more explanation and maybe answer some questions that my readers may still have.
‘Freedom is the right of all sentient beings.’ – Optimus Prime, Transformers
I don’t think it’s a secret that I love to travel. I love exploring new places, especially those off the beaten path, and experiencing as much as I can in the time I have there. In my head I have a list of destinations that I still want to go to based on articles I’ve read, things I’ve seen on TV and stories that other people have told me. One thing that does annoy me when others are telling about countries they recommend is the phrase ‘But it would be no good for you because they eat a lot of meat’. As a plant-based vegetarian who is allergic to gluten, there may not always be the biggest selection of meals for me to eat, but I will always find something. And I usually find a lot more than people expect. Let me put it another way. I’m not a churchgoer. Therefore, when I visit somewhere new I don’t generally pay much attention to how many churches there are or where the nearest one is. However, if I were looking for a church I’m sure there would suddenly be lots.
Eating vegan food on the road can sometimes be difficult, and many times is interesting, but it is definitely possible. Here are my top four tips to help you on your travels:
1. Yes, it’s my number one tip for everything – BE PREPARED. Plan ahead and do your research before you travel. Happy Cow is one of my favourite sites of all time. Simply enter the name of any major town or city in the world, and they will give you a list of vegetarian and vegan restaurants and shops in the area. The internet is such a valuable tool these days. I went on holiday to Spain when I was sixteen, before the internet was widely used, and I lived off chips and salad for a week. There are some really good vegan travel guides on the market now too.
2. Book self-catering accommodation. Not only is it generally cheaper, but it means you can have total control over what you eat. I travel on my own a lot, and I choose to stay in hostels whenever I can. For the most part they have great kitchen facilities when I can prepare plant-based food and chill out with a glass of wine after a long day exploring.
3. Eat what you can. Unless you’re lucky to find a local vegetarian restaurant, you’re unlikely to have more than one or two options to choose from in restaurants. So, if that’s all that’s available to you then that’s what you should eat. You never know, you might even discover a new favourite food. Eating vegan has definitely made me less fussy.
4. Learn the word for ‘vegan’ in the local language of wherever you are travelling to. If you’re not very good with languages, google the word and write it on a scrap of paper or type it into your phone and carry it with you. Then, when you’re desperately trying to explain to a waiter what you can and can’t eat, you can whip it out and sit back and relax.