Well I have been on a cooking hiatus these past weeks with an international trip and wedding. Soooo… this brings me a topic I wanted to share, as well as see what others have experienced – Traveling while being vegan or on a special diet.
Last year, I had a great opportunity to travel to Lima, Peru. First, it was right in the beginning of my transition to a vegan diet, which brought on some worry about what to eat during the trip. Secondly, I was concerned about the limitation it might put on my experience of the culture and traditional food. On previous trips out of the country, I’ve been a pretty experimental and adventurous eater in trying the local cuisine. In Peru, I stayed pretty safe with eating plain rice, fruits, and vegetables. Although, I did taste the local “chica morada”, which was quite delicious, but super sweet. During my visit, I tried explaining my dietary needs to the restaurant servers. On one instance, I ordered rice. When I got it, I took a bite and bit right into chicken fat. Apparently, the rice was cooked with chicken and then it is removed. I think it’s important (at least for me as a vegan) to remember that it’s okay if this happens. Even in the states, something may “sneak” into my meal. For me, it’s about me making a conscious effort to not eat those products. Other cultures may not be accustomed to the variety of dietary needs, like in the United States. Many times, I found that there was no word for vegan in Spanish – it was equal to vegetarian. Therefore, I had to define it all over the place.
More recently, I traveled to Accra, Ghana. This trip I was more prepared with bars and snacks in my luggage. In addition, I threw out the idea that I was going to try and define veganism and just ask about ingredients. First, I think this trip was a lot easier because a primary language spoken was English. Also, from the people I was traveling with, I learned that many sauces are prepared with some meat cooking in it as well. I was able to eat their local fried rice, lentil soup, and french fries. A week into the trip, I got a little more daring and tasted the Banku (basically a corn meal dough ball) with vegetable stew. By being able to taste a traditional meal, I felt that I was still able to experience pieces of the culture that I thought I would miss out on as a vegan.
It’s definitely an ongoing learning process for eating abroad. If traveling while being vegan, I would suggest learning the words for butter, milk, chicken, beef, and other limitations to your diet in the language of the country you are visiting (if possible). There’s also an downloadable application called Vegan Please! that has the translation for something along these lines in German, Spanish, French, Portuguese, and Italian: I am vegan. I don’t eat any meat or fish. That includes products containing milk, egg, and gelatin. Thank you.
I’ll be back to cooking and posting recipes within the next couple of days, but any thoughts about traveling while adhering to specific dietary restrictions or needs?
- Pre-Vegan Travels (veganfrequentflyer.wordpress.com)
- Vegetarian And Vegan Dining In Costa Rica (costaricatravelblog.com)
- On the road in…Peru! (veganfrequentflyer.wordpress.com)