Since becoming vegan a few years ago, I must admit that I became a little worried when travelling overseas. One of the reasons why I love travelling is that I thrive on the challenges and experiences that an unexplored destination or culture can provide. While there’s fun in seeking out vegan foods and restaurants in a new country there may be a little trepidation for some – like me – who may be afraid of offending the locals or local businesses that aren’t familiar with the vegan lifestyle.
A travel quote from American author Clifton Fadiman came to mind this week which highlights a basic truth to anyone who travels with dietary requirements:
“When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.”
Yet, to counteract Fadiman’s quote, there seems to be a need for our world in the present day to start embracing sustainable ways in which to supply, prepare and eat food. I find that being vegan helps me to achieve this, among other personal reasons.
Recently, UK lifestyle magazine Vegan Life helped me resolve my inner worry. I first became familiar with Vegan Life while on a four-day B&B retreat to Beaufort in Victoria earlier this year. I spent the weekend reading this empowering magazine as it provided me with added confidence that travelling as a vegan shouldn’t instil any ounce of worry in me.
One of Vegan Life’s aims is to “bring vegan into vogue” and there’s plenty of inspiration throughout in which to do so. Issue 6 of Vegan Life not only allowed me to relive past travels and wanderlust, I gained some helpful information for one journey I’ve yearned to embark on.
Naturally, food and travel go hand in hand for me so I was thrilled to find an array of recipes featuring tofu, tempeh and seitan. I was fortunate to head off on a journey to Bali mid-last year with a vegan travel group and I discovered loads of traditional Balinese dishes where meat was replaced with tofu or tempeh. Tempeh originated from Indonesia and Bali is in a prime geographical position – production of tempeh in the region occurs on the neighbouring island of Java. During my journey I was able to participate in a vegan cooking class where I learned to how to make vegan versions of Balinese staples such as the peanut sauce sate and spicy sambal. Vegan Life featured a recipe for Balinese grilled aubergine with a side of tomato sambal which draws on the Indonesian cooking skills I learned on my journey; not to mention my love of aubergine!
Another article which caught my eye was ‘A Vegan in New Zealand’. I travelled through New Zealand back in 2001 and it was far from the vegan journey I would now want to embark on. I remember eating an array of New Zealand’s traditional dishes, including a Maori feast and some of the local seafood. Though, it wasn’t so much the actual dishes that stood out in my travel memories from New Zealand. I remember New Zealand to be such a pristine country with a fondness for local, organic produce being prepared as healthily as possible.
I was able to relate to Karin Bredsdorff Gray’s experience of finding cafés closed in some of the quieter towns – a laid-back reminder that around-the-clock trading doesn’t have to be the norm for some countries. In some of the larger cities like Auckland and Christchurch, Karin successfully uncovered some health food stores and vegan menu items. The most promising sign for me was her discovery of a squash crumble and local vegan wine in a pub – of all places – in Otago. I now want to return to New Zealand and pave my own vegan path throughout.
There’s also a misconception that by being vegan, essential nutrients and energy levels are carelessly thrown out the window. I have found that this is not the case, and there have been quite a few energetic activities I’ve embarked on while overseas, such as successfully climbing to the rim of the volcano Mount Ijen in East Java last year. I do pride myself on my ability to get out there and get amongst it all, and one journey that has caught my eye for a while now is a climb of Mount Kilimanjaro – another volcanic mountain, located in Tanzania.
I recall meeting a fellow traveller in Syria in 2012 who had attempted the trek and he didn’t so much as talk about energy and stamina required to complete such a feat. He talked more around altitude acclimatisation and his brush with altitude sickness. Through reading 'King of the Mountain' in Vegan Life, I was engrossed with one Scottish vegan’s account during his ascent and especially the hospitality he experienced during his climb. Stephen also found local restaurants in which to eat before he embarked on his adventure. I think I’ll be keeping Mount Kilimanjaro on the list!
If you’d like to experience Vegan Life for yourself, head to the Vegan Life website. Subscription and subscription packages can be purchased through the site too. Issue 6 is out now and previous back issues are also available to purchase through the site.
Disclaimer: I was supplied with a free digital copy of Vegan Life Issue 6.