I am very excited to present my second guest blog post. This article is written by Marine from the sustainable lifestyle platform Attitude Organic. She has great experience from the challenge of both travelling and living abroad as vegan, and I’m so glad she wanted to share her best tips with us. Enjoy!
Being Vegan can already be hard in Europe. If you are a vegan yourself, you surely know it, it takes a while before being comfortable with it. I don’t mean that your motivations are challenged, I refer to the fact that the society is not made for us yet. For instance, if you go to the restaurant with some non-vegan friends, you might struggle to find an acceptable meal. Except maybe fries, great…
So now, imagine that you live or visit a country where literally nobody is vegan and where eating meat is at the heart of society? Yes, it does exist. I live in Malaysia and local people are mainly interested in food. They love eating and they spend a lot of time enjoying it. They are very proud of their cuisine, which I find important. Being French, food is part of my culture too. However, when you let them know that you do not eat meat (let’s not even talk about milk and eggs), they look at you strangely and ask you if you can have chicken.
That said, it should not be a reason to give up on travelling or on your lifestyle. I took me a while to adapt my lifestyle to the Asian possibilities but I am now comfortable again. I am very happy to share my tips with you and hope they will help you in travelling vegan too!
1) Choose your country well
I don’t mean to limit your options to only a few countries but if you are worried about being vegan abroad, maybe you should start with an “easy” country. You will easily find vegan restaurants in Western countries, especially in northern Europe. The USA also have a huge vegan community. If you look for an exotic country, I would recommend India. Hindus are traditionally vegetarian so that could help as a reference. In the opposite, avoid the Middle East countries and South America if you are scared to struggle with food. They usually eat a lot of meat.
2) Use the hotel Wi-Fi
Wherever you are, doing a bit of research to find a vegan restaurant is a good start. Whether you are in Paris, London, Rio or Bangkok, always google the vegan places around. If you are lucky enough, you will have a vast range to choose from.
3) Communicate with the staff
If you end up in a non-vegan place, read the menu attentively. If the ingredients are not specified or if you have any doubts, ask the waiter. In most countries, locals are lovely with tourists. They love engaging with you and always try to please foreigners. Although you might encounter difficulties with language barrier. In that case, I would suggest you prepare a little list of translated words in the local language to explain your situation. If that does not work, you can either thank them or try another place. I personally never leave a place as I find it very rude so I just go for the easiest option on menu. Fruits or green salad are always a good option as well as rice in Asia and fries everywhere.
4) Food markets
Going to food markets is always one of the best activities of your trip! I love it because you really see the people, the habits and the local culture. For vegans, the food choice is of course more limited than for non-vegan people. Indeed, in Asia for example, they do sell a lot of meat. However, on the good side, you see the food before ordering it. You can be sure that you will have no bad surprise when your food arrives!
5) Get an Airbnb and cook
I live by Airbnb when I travel! I just love the fact that I can rent an apartment, I find it so much better than a hotel. It is so convenient to have your own kitchen and the people who rent the flat to you are very helpful. The first thing you can do is to ask them for advice. If you are lucky, they will know a few places and can help you to make yourself understood by the locals.
Then you can go food shopping and cook vegan meals and snacks. It can be a good solution if you can’t find vegan restaurants. However, do not do it every day! You would miss the opportunity to see exotic types of food! Take the risk, it can be fun!
6) Bring your own cosmetics
Indeed, do not expect to find vegan skincare and haircare in all countries. Besides, maybe you won’t be able to read the labels. Finally keep in mind that cosmetics regulations are very different in all countries so you could be fooled.
Bringing your favorite beauty products from home remains the best alternative. If you live abroad, I suggest an extra luggage if necessary when you go back home. I know how annoying it can be (and expensive) but it worth it. Of course, you could also order online and get it shipped to you but it is expensive and an environmental nightmare. I am not only vegan; I also aim to have a sustainable lifestyle.
So, even though it can be hard to travel vegan and even harder to live abroad, I love it! Don’t be scared, just go for it. I hope those tips will help you to avoid uncomfortable situations. My last advice would be: be laid back and take it easy! Don’t get stressed or annoyed if you can’t find a vegan meal on a particular day, just go back home and cook some rice, it is not the end of the world. If you liked this article, visit my blog. https://attitudeorganic.com/ You will find many other tips to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle!