How hard is it to be a vegan while traveling?
It’s just as hard or as simple as you make it.
It’s the easiest thing in the world when I travel alone. I go to local market and buy any kind of fruits and veggies, nuts or seeds my heart desires. I wash my goodies or simply peel them and eat them as they are. If I feel like having cooked meal, I go to any restaurant and order veggies with rice or beans or potatoes. It’s tasty, healthy, super simple and cheap for the travelers on the budget. Almost every restaurant in the world will have some rice or beans and veggies. You can never stay hungry or go broke just because you’re vegan.
The 2nd year of being vegan on the road made me go all fancy, so I bought a mini blender. I was hitchhiking with a pink mini blender in my backpack. It was cheap and convenient. I stopped at the gas stations for a lunch break while hitchhiking long distance, filled my blender with some fruits and veggies and powered it on. All of my meals were done under 1 minute. When finished, I simply washed everything in the bathroom and kept going until the evening.
How to explain and not offend her cooking? Even some native English speakers had a tough time understanding what veganism is all about. How was I supposed to gesticulate the message to an old granny who doesn’t speak English and expect her to understand? “It’s not you, it’s me” philosophy. I couldn’t do that. I knew I was set up for a failure and I was ok with it. I ate the damn fish balls. She was happy, I was still alive. If I find myself ever again in the same situation, I think I would do the same. The point is not to be perfect, but to do the best I can in every situation I’m in.
Another struggle was hitchhiking a boat for 7 months with 3 meat lovers. Naturally, as I was the one who was hitchhiking, I made sure the Captain and the rest of the crew don’t get disturbed by my lifestyle. I was lucky enough that the Captain was open-minded and a real fruit and veggie lover. I was trying to be as flexible as possible by cooking for everyone no matter what was on the menu as well as sharing the costs of the groceries I didn’t eat. I’ve never complained about their food or forced my habits on anyone.
The trouble with the boat, especially a crowded one, is that there is only so many fruits and veggies you can bring on the boat and once you run out of your goodies, you’re screwed until you find another place to anchor and stock up. Until then you run on porridge, pasta, rice, and peanut butter if there’s any left. It drove me mentally bananas, but I never let the sound out. I was hitchhiking a boat for 7 months with 3 incredible people and I’ll be grateful for that experience until my last day.
Meeting up with random groups of people for a meal was another struggle. There was always someone from the group who had 150 questions about veganism while all I wanted to do was eat my food – or while everyone else was eating. There is a common perception that all the vegans want to do is talk about the veganism. Maybe that’s true, but not when I’m hungry.
Veganism is still not a mainstream in many cultures and people often have many questions about it. Sometimes they even get offended by the answers, so when I just wanted to enjoy my time and food at the restaurant in peace, I told them I have some health issues and that I was allergic to meat, eggs and dairy. Usually that answer was enough to stop any further questions.
In conclusion, to be a traveling vegan is not always easy, but if you have a strong reason why you're doing this, you’ll always find some way to pull it off.