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Travelling as a Vegan



My assumptions about being a vegan traveller were, to put it bluntly, all wrong. 

In Copenhagen, I didn't think there would be as many vegan restaurants as there were, I'd assumed I'd have to bring a lot of snack foods and was a bit worried that the airport people would think that dodgy. I don't know why it didn't occur to me to go to a normal restaurant and ask for them to 'exclude the cheese, please' but anyway, a quick Google pleasantly surprised me with a long list of vegan options in and around the trendy city - although, I ended up only eating at one of those recommended restaurants - but that was only because the others were closed when I went past and the one I went to was so delicious! It made the walking around lost in the rain and cold looking for it, soo worth it!





When I went to India, I assumed there would be plenty of vegan options in every restaurant as a lot of Indians are vegetarian. But I should have known that nonetheless, many dishes still include a lot of animal products, so the question as to whether there was anything without milk, yoghurt or cheese passed my lips regularly, especially seeing as I was travelling with meat-eaters which determined the kind of restaurants we went to. Not a problem really, what I didn’t foresee though, was that the variety of food available to me in those restaurants wasn’t good enough. I didn’t have as many vegetables or protein and by the second week, I was starting to feel the lack of energy. No spinach, chickpeas, berries or sweet potato. No almond milk so no porridge or muesli. No quinoa or chia seeds. No pomegranate! Along with the early mornings and late nights, I was beginning to feel tired more often than not and so as soon as the talk turned to food, hangry Vanisha started to come out to play - as if by magic!
  I didn’t even link it to diet till the second week, I thought I was just being too sensitive! It was ridiculous how happy I was when I saw the huge breakfast and dinner buffet at two of the hotels! Those two meals were so sexy - there were chickpeas!







As well as physically, it takes a bit of a toll emotionally too. It can be frustrating when it takes that much effort just to find something to eat, especially when when you finally do, they add cheese on top anyway despite you telling the English-speaking waiter specifically 'no cheese' which he repeated back but now it's almost 4pm, you haven't eaten since your plain toast and fruit for breakfast and you're scraping cheese off the top of your pasta alone in your hotel room.


Unless you're a travelling foodie, you probably don't want to spend so much time or energy on where to go to eat, I'd definitely much rather busy myself more with exploring!
I'm no expert vegan traveller but from my three and a half weeks travelling as a vegan, both alone and with meat-eaters, I've learned a lot! So I thought I'd share a few tips I've come to find useful... 
 


Do Your Research


Before you go, research vegan options near you, it can save you a lot of time. That's what I did for Copenhagen, read all the reviews and noted all the addresses. I was only there for three fully scheduled days which didn't really include any time slots for me to wander around looking for food. It was also useful to know the whereabouts of these eateries because even with annotated maps and written directions, getting lost became second nature! Plus reviews, like on Tripadvisor, are amazing, you can find some real gems recommended on there. Of course, if your time is more flexible, you could just do this in your hotel room before you go out to eat.
We came across
more vegan restaurants in the Andaman islands than mainland
India as well as more people who knew the term ‘vegan’ but as I didn't research beforehand - or, at all to be honest, it could've have just appeared to be that way because the Andamans are obvs tiny in comparison!




Just Ask!

Now this may seem a bit obvious but it surprisingly wasn't to me at the time. The locals will know the best places to eat and the kinds of places there are in the area. I ate so much at the recommended Full Moon Café in Havelock! I couldn’t finish it all but there were falafel wraps with hummus and I was in love.



Language

It would make it so much more easier for you to memorise a phrase or few words in the other language to help you ask about the food, like, vegan, dairy, no milk, yoghurt, cheese etc... 



Keep Track


Keep track of what you’re eating, especially if you're travelling for weeks at a time. Are you getting enough protein? Enough iron? Enough fruit and veg? Are you eating what you usually eat or getting appropriate alternatives? This is what got me the most, especially as we weren't eating at vegan restaurants, it kinda creeps up on you! As soon as I realised the nutrients I’d been lacking, I looked for the lentils, the non-fried vegetable-focused dishes and less of the simple carb-based dishes. And it really helped boost my energy.






 

No, you're not an inconvenience


The first few times, I was a little apprehensive and felt I was being a pain asking so many questions about the food on the menu. But girl gotta eat! The waiters seemed like they were actually enjoying doing something a little different anyway! So don't feel guilty, ask as many questions as you feel you need to.



" But what do Vegans even eat?

Oxygen atoms and front lawns. "



When travelling with meat-eaters


It can be hard for others not living a vegan lifestyle to understand why going to a vegan restaurant would benefit you. Vegan restaurants understand what vegans eat and so obviously the menu would be tailored towards what you need. Most of the time, from what I could tell, the restaurants that were nearby weren’t vegan and I felt, being with meat-eaters, It wouldn't be fair to say, 'let’s find somewhere vegan to eat tonight'. But now I know, that that suggestion would only have been rejected due to a lack of understanding as to why. Explain to your travelling companions why and how your current diet is not good enough for you or why it would be highly beneficial to find somewhere vegan - not just for you but that something a little healthier, for a couple of nights would benefit you all.



It can be frustrating at times but that won’t help anything


At Wandoor beach, there was a cute little beach-side hut of a restaurant. On the islands they spoke a language similar to Hindi but different so we didn’t understand at all! Another driver translated for us and it turned out that the menu was useless because all they had was lamb biriyani. I was annoyed at first until it was suggested that we stop on the way back for some food for me and I realised there was no need to be annoyed about it, problem solved, I just had to wait a little longer and on that gorgeous beach, that was very easy!
This was the same day where I only had plain toast and fruit for breakfast so was bloody hungry already - insert "Sorry for how I acted when I was hungry" quote but seeing as we were to stop on the way back, I was now fine with it...until I got back to the hotel with my takeaway pasta and saw the cheese. I scraped off the top and ate the rest but it didn’t feel good. I had to stop and remind myself where I was, this gorgeous island - on my bucket list! And grounded myself before dinner. Yes I am tired, yes I am drained, yes I am frustrated but I still get to eat at some point today and I get to do so in this beautiful place! In this situation negativity is unnecessary and won’t get you anywhere.








Stay grounded


Stay grounded, most of the world is not vegan and no one owes you anything. After the, er, 'cheese incident' (haha) I could see how easy it is to get pissed off that no one seems to understand veganism, but don’t blame anyone for it. I didn't understand it at first either. Negativity won’t change that. We had Christmas dinner booked at our Havelock hotel. I was so chilled out man and had come to accept the routine of asking about the food. However, the hotel manager came over and said he’d get the chef to make me something vegan! I was so touched. He didn’t have to do that. And it was delicious! See what a bit of positivity gets you? I felt so grateful and humbled. It’s not up to everyone else to change themselves for you and it’s not up to you to change yourself for them. If you’re vegan, it’s your choice and so it’s up to you to take responsibility for that but if someone decides to send some help your way, then they're just an amazingly beautiful human being, aren't they?




Stock up


As a just in case, before you leave, take a bunch of vegan snacks with you! And while you're there, whenever you pass a convenience store, pop in and stock up again! And when you do have a lovely vegan meal, order more than usual and take some to go! Have it for breakfast the next morning or as a snack during the day. I can’t tell you how much more amazing my falafel wrap was sitting on a deckchair outside our room the following morning, listening to the hum of the jungle and being kissed by the morning breeze...





Remember why you’re vegan


At some times it can be frustrating, and annoying and guilt-rendering, but you still get to go to sleep at night knowing that you’ve saved an animals life, don’t ever forget that, it makes any veganism-related struggle SO worth it. 








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2 comments:

  1. It's so nice that you actually "admit" how hard and frustrating it can be at times.. I've turned vegetarian recently and I always feel the need to not bother anyone around and pretend it's super chill and easy so nobody will point fingers or tell me the way I eat it "restrictive". But the truth is, yes, sometimes it's a bit daunting, especially when the people around don't understand. That's why I always try to keep my focus on the reasons I'm vegetarian :) my meals might be a bit stressful at times, but at least their cruelty free!

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    1. Yes I totally get what you mean! It was my choice to go vegan so why should I be complaining but as it's such a huge change sometimes it does get tough...it's always worth it when you remember your reasons though! :)

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