Veganism and Traveling
By: Pixie Turner
In the world we live in veganism and plant based diets are seen as extreme and unusual. That’s just the way it is; we live in a non-vegan world, and we have to recognize this and adapt.
It’s tempting to visit another country and just cook for yourself as it’s easier, but food is such an integral part of every culture, you’d really be missing out on such a fundamental experience. I’ve traveled to countries where the word “vegan” isn’t recognized and been to restaurants where no one spoke any English.
One example that springs to mind is pho in Vietnam, which is a bone broth usually served with beef, vegetables, and an assortment of greens, all in one bowl, with rice noodles on the side. I decided to try it while I was there and it was honestly one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten in my life; so good I went and had it again a few more times. I don’t regret it one bit, even if it wasn’t plant based.
I’m of the opinion that experiences are worth more than strictly adhering to a certain diet and lifestyle. Of course the line is in a different place for everyone, and that’s completely up to the individual; I can only speak for myself and share my experiences. From my experience, I can say it’s okay to “break the rules.” In fact, it might even be healthier to break the rules on occasion, rather than sticking to something so rigid it causes you anxiety or makes you unhappy. You might even surprise yourself with the amazing things you experience! For example, me trying pho led to me trying to make a vegan version in a cooking class.
Vacations are meant to be for relaxing and enjoying yourself, not for stressing about food. I so strongly believe in this that when I went on vacation with my family to St Lucia, it didn’t even cross my mind to make any special arrangements food-wise before I got there.
I want to encourage you to be flexible and if you’re drawn to something new and exciting in a foreign land that isn’t vegan, don’t feel guilty or force yourself to stick to something you don’t want to. I actively choose to be plant based 99% of the time. That 1% might occur when it’s someone’s birthday, or when someone has really tried hard to make something vegan for me and accidentally forgotten about one ingredient. Or it could be when I’m somewhere exciting like Vietnam and I really want to try the local foods that are so integral to their culture.
For me that 1% is vitally important to maintaining a healthy relationship with food, and to avoid spiraling into orthorexic tendencies. By no means do I believe everyone should do this, (it might be different for ethical vegans) but I think it’s definitely worth considering in this non-vegan world we live in, because #balance.
Tips for Eating Vegan Abroad
Vegan in Loas
1. Noodle soup, while a speciality, is likely not vegan due to the broth. So unless you’re willing to turn a blind eye and just have it without meat, don’t go for it.
2. Stir fried vegetables will exist on practically every menu in every restaurant.
3. Fresh fruit can be found everywhere and is ridiculously cheap.
4. Eat the buffets in Luang Prabang, and you will come back the next day for seconds.
5. If you buy a smoothie make sure you specify no milk and no sugar, just in case.
Vegan in Vietnam
1. Pho is not vegetarian even without meat, but if you’re willing to make an exception, it’s insanely delicious.
2.You can find fruit everywhere during the day, but not usually in the evening.
3. A lot of street food restaurants have only one thing on their menu, so if you’re feeling brave you can just walk in and sit down, but there’s a 99% chance the food will contain bone broth.
4. If you can, ask for no fish sauce, but be aware of the language barrier.
5. Do a cooking class in Hoi An! There are several vegetarian restaurants offering them, and even one pure vegan one (which is expensive though). It’s definitely worth it.
About The Author
Pixie is a nutritionist (ANutr) (MSc), award-winning food blogger, speaker, and content creator. She debunks nutrition myths and advocates for a balanced lifestyle without restriction. She believes food should make you both happy and healthy, otherwise what's the point! Follow her blog: Plant-Based Pixie