Tips for Vegan Travelers
By Chantal Blake
Your experience as a vegan traveler in a new country is largely dependent on your preparation, location, and budget. A little bit of preliminary research can help you identify authentically plant-based local dishes, vegetarian-friendly restaurants, or stores where you can stock up on snacks for your journey.
In most major developed cities and regions where Eastern philosophies like Buddhism or Hinduism are adhered to, eating green should be a breeze. But, if you venture towards more meat-centric cultures, culinary creativity is a must! Regardless of where your itinerary takes you, eating abroad might not be like your diet at home. I myself have indulged in far too many fried foods while in Southeast Asia or overdosed on bread products in North Africa. But whenever I return to my hometown of New York City, these are five essential foods I consume to get my health and eating habits back on track.
Nothing welcomes your digestion back to normalcy better than hefty doses of probiotics. Replenishing good bacteria in your intestines helps your immune system to recover and remain strong, especially after a bout of traveler’s diarrhea or generally poor eating. Whether enjoyed for breakfast with berries and bananas, or as a snack with granola, yogurt can be a healthy addition to your daily diet.
Most soybean products get a bad rep for affecting your hormones and endocrine system, but fermented soy products are in a totally different category. When soybeans are fermented in a low-processed form, as is the case with tempeh, you end up with a healthful source of protein that is quick and easy to cook. Fermentation also makes soy more easily digestible. Tofu is a runner-up; however, skip the soy ‘meat’ products altogether, especially if they’re not sourced from organic and non-genetically modified soybeans.
Sprouted Grain Bread
Bread is a universal food, but sprouted grain bread is universally unique. Sprouting unlocks the full nutritional potential of wheat and other grains and eliminates their sticky gluten qualities which can slow down your digestive system. The ever-popular Ezekiel bread combines several sprouted grains to make a complete-protein source that is flourless and free of gluten. If you don’t like the grainy texture, you can enjoy it toasted with your favorite vegan spread, hummus, or nut butter.
Full of healthy fats, avocados can replace depleted fat-soluble vitamins that your backpacker diet might’ve been lacking. Good sources of fat are needed in every diet, especially plant-based ones, for your body to produce its own cholesterol. Avocados are also abundant in Vitamin E, which restores your hair and skin after the wear and tear of hard water and intense sun exposure.
Kale is considered by some to be ‘the Queen of Greens.’ Most greens are good for your health but kale is a powerhouse because of its nutritional density. Rich in iron, fiber, Vitamins A, C and K, and calcium, it’s a healthful addition to most diets. Kale can be enjoyed by the plateful, steamed, sautéed or raw. Because of its high oxalate content, it’s best not to pair kale with calcium-rich foods to avoid absorption inhibition.
Chantal Blake is a Jamaican-American writer from New York City. A frequent traveler since birth, she married a fellow nomad and has been living abroad since 2008. In spite of her background in environmental engineering, her work abroad has included teaching English, travel writing, and raising two amazing kids. Her writing has been featured online and in-print and covers themes of family travel, veganism, and migration.