Vegan Traveler, Some tips
Regional vegan cuisine
A general suggestion, that is valid both for travelers abroad and for busy and permanent residents, is to find out which typical foods are vegan. In this way we will not depend on any specific restaurant nor bakery, but we'll have the certainty of finding something for us even in other places. I'm talking about regional typical foods.
So we'll have “focaccia” and “pizza marinara” in almost every part of Italy, “taralli”, “cecina” in Tuscany, “baklava” in the Balcans, “zacuscă” in Romania, “ajvar” in Macedonia, etc.
Let's then find out which brands make vegan biscuits. The multigrain ones are usually vegan. But beware the chemicals in them! We must read the ingredients and not abuse of margarine, hydrogenated oils and preservatives.
Let's also pay attention whether there are people who sell homemade food in the street. This practice, absolutely common in “developing” countries is sadly forbidden in the “civilized” Europe. Even so with a bit of luck we might be able to find some homemade bites in the suburban areas and small towns, in southern and eastern Europe.
Every country has its own vegan delicacies, sometimes hidden, sometimes not. So we'll taste “helva” in the Balkans, “humus” in arabic countries, peanut butter in the Americas, “dulce de guayaba” in Colombia and so on.
We just need curiosity and the cheek to ask for informations.
With little planning we can improve a lot the quality of our nutrition. For example we can cook more than what is strictly needed for one meal, and save the leftovers for later. Thus we can:
- cook on the morning for the whole day
- cook in the evening for the next day
- cook one day for the next two or three days
Access to kitchen
If we travel with hospitality networks or in hostels we must find places where we can cook. So we'll also have chance of pleasant sharing, and learning new recipes and how to use local ingredients.
Dumpster-diving (also called “recycling”) is very useful to travelers. There are two ways of doing it: one is asking to the sellers if they've something too old to be sold and that can give away for free; and the other way is going to check into supermarket bins for good things they've thrown away.
When the pocket makes the rules, recycling is an important practice to vary the menu and stop relying on those products – like beans and refined cereals – that for their economical convenience end up being the base of our diet. Fruits and veggies are fundamentals to health and strength.
Harvesting spontaneous herbs and fruits
I mean fruit trees that grow on the side of the street, those who are spontaneous in the countryside and in the woods, and the edible herbs that an experienced eye can easily recognize.
Figs, berries, pears, mangoes, nettle, dandelion, borage, chicory, are all delights that can be found according to landscape and latitude.
Finally a special mention is owed to the Hare Krishna community. They're a religious group with roots into Hinduism, well known for owning vegetarian restaurants in most main cities of the world. Their beliefs support lacteo-vegetarian nutrition, but they often have vegan options at very popular prices.
Continue to Chapter 5 • Essential checklist