07 Jan HOW TO BECOME A TRAVEL VEGAN
Warning: this post may induce some serious need to give up animal products, and should be read with caution.
It’s been exactly 2 years and 1 week since I threw in the creamy, meaty towel, and made a decision to go vegan. You guys might remember that digital dinner party we had with friends back home, to celebrate my first stint of veganism, and to collaborate with 99 other creatives on the 31days project? Well, as 2018 has popped its head around the corner (happy new year btw!) with it comes another Veganuary (Movember’s animal-loving cousin, a.k.a. a January dedicated to trying the vegan lifestyle), which has led me to celebrate who I have become: a Travel Vegan.
Now let me backtrack a little to share some context into this ‘new’ title I have assigned myself (I use the term “new” loosely as the term ‘Travel Vegan’ seems to have existed since 2014, but since this applies to my use of the term, ‘new’ is still relevant).
A little over two years ago we found Nina in some way, through the internet. In fact, now that I think about it, Nina found us. Nina is the founder of a design studio in Norway, and in late 2015, Nina had a vision to catalyse a creative project that would last 31 days, offering 31 individuals the opportunity to host 31 dinners, inviting 31 photographers and 31 writers, from 15 cities in 8 countries, to take part in what would eventually become a beautifully-packaged book that celebrates veganism, and aims to inspire people to have a re-think about what they put on their plates.
Fast forward two years, and besides having published an exquisite book (featuring yours truly, as seen above), Nina has already raised thousands of dollars for the non-profit New Harvest selling the #31days book. It’s amazing!
Now before I move on, I want to just highlight the amazing work New Harvest are doing in developing ‘animal’ products, harvested purely from cell cultures, not animals. In other words, this research institute is using science to manufacture food (eggs, milk, meat) without actually using animals. Meat without animals. It’s mind-boggling! Their CEO Isha Datar did a great job at explaining the work in this talk (if you’d like to check it out).
Ok, back to my story and reason for writing this post.
Since that experimental month back in Veganuary 2016, where I decided to give veganism a try (for environmental, ethical, and health reasons), I quickly became familiar not only with the concept of veganism, but how INCREDIBLY difficult it is to be a full-time traveling vegan. Do you know how many meals in Central Europe feature meat as the hero, and cheese, cream and butter as core ingredients? Um, without sounding crazy, but for dramatic effect, I’m going to say 99% of them. And airport snacking means muffins and wraps that feature cheese and meat as the star of the show? Yup, pretty much all the time. Not to mention how difficult it is to say no when a Polish lady at a restaurant in Krakow offers you a bowl of Pierogis (which you know have sour cream in the dough, because you used to watch your Mom make them when you were small) but your fond childhood memories and the whole reason you came to Poland was to experience a taste of home? How can you say no to that Polish lady?!
Well now that I know the term Travel Vegan is a thing (even if only one blogger’s daughter said it once back in 2014), I don’t have to feel guilty when eating those Pierogis, and still feel like I can call myself a proud vegan…or a flexi-vegan that “eats vegan all the time, but makes exceptions when traveling”…except I have to change the definition slightly, as “make exceptions when traveling” would mean I would not be a vegan at all as I travel full-time. Duh.
So here is what I have pledged to do as a full-time Travel Vegan:
- Eat purely vegan food during #Veganuary, no matter where we happen to be in the world
- Go grocery shopping and cook vegan meals at the Airbnb when staying in a place for longer than a few days
- Get used to eating slightly-less-exciting things on the menu when traveling through animal-product-loving countries (e.g. good ol’ tomato-based pastas – which make up the remaining 1% of the pro-animal menu – and seem to be easy enough to find anywhere)
- Plan and prepare vegan snacks to have at airports and on intense travel days (hummus and cucumber sandwiches are great, as are bags of nuts and fruit)
- And finally (unlike the purists), indulge once in a little local cuisine when arriving somewhere new (be it cheesy pizzas in Naples or salmon sushi in Japan) to kick the craving, see what the fuss is about and why that food is the national dish of the local people, and then continue on my merry vegan ways
Following the above will ensure that I will be eating vegan at least 95% of the time, and I won’t feel guilty when the opportunity to try Pierogis comes around.
I now challenge you, travel-hungry HFFH reader. If this story inspired you at all (because you’ve seen that maybe becoming a Travel Vegan doesn’t mean missing out), or if you’re still defining your 2018 goals, or you’re still upset about Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, I encourage you to do your own bit for the environment, and try going vegan (even if only for the month of Veganuary). Your body, and the cows of Austria will thank you for it.
P.s. if you’re curious at all to check out our 2016 dinner date and get a whole bunch of vegan inspiration for your experiment, you can get the #31days cookbook here.
Now for our usual photo gallery, in honour of the real reason we all go vegan – here are some of the animals we’ve seen along our journey. Enjoy!