Today's article is a guest post by our friend Goji Man from Goji Man Nutrition
A common question that I often get on my blog and through my social media accounts is how I maintain a healthy vegan diet while travelling around the world.
Now before I go any further it’s probably best to clarify what “healthy” means to me as everyone has their own take on it.
For me, being healthy means a lot more than being free of disease. Being healthy is being both physically and mentally well. It’s having tons of energy and a passion for life. It’s getting out of bed with a skip in your step.
Being healthy is certainly not a trouser size, a blood pressure score or a number on a scale.
Now if you look at the healthiest, longest living and happiest people on the planet they all have one thing in common. They thrive on plant-based diets with daily portions of beans, whole grains, greens, nuts, spices, fruits, flaxseeds, vegetables, legumes and other cruciferous vegetables.
These populations also exercise daily, get plenty of sunshine and drink lots of water. It’s quite a simple formula really.
Travelling Healthily Doesn’t Have To Be Difficult
I love travelling and have visited many cities and countries throughout the world. But I have to admit that I was slightly apprehensive when I first started travelling abroad after adopting a vegan lifestyle.
It was quite easy finding vegan-friendly restaurants where I lived in the UK, but how easy would this be when travelling to countries where I didn't speak the language? Would it even be possible to maintain a healthy diet when visiting these countries?
I’ll cut the suspense for you, it was very easy.
I have travelled to well over 30 different countries since I adopted a vegan diet and I have never found it difficult to maintain a healthy diet.
Yes, I had to be creative on a number of trips. Yes, I had to be patient on a number of trips. But I always succeeded and inevitably, the food was always great and enhanced my experiences.
Some of my friends (who aren’t vegan) often laughed that I would probably starve, especially in countries that had very close cultural connections to meat and dairy. But theses potential issues never manifested themselves.
In fact, the countries I was most apprehensive about (the USA, Finland, Germany and Greece) turned out to offer some of the best foods that I have ever experienced. It was always pleasing when travelling these countries when I realised how many different traditional recipes were actually focussed around plants.
In hindsight, this makes perfect sense. Most historical recipes that have been passed down through the generations would have been created by the poorest people in those societies. The people who never had access to meat and dairy. The peasants. They had to focus on making delicious, hearty and healthy meals from what they had access to. Fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, beans and seeds.
My Top Tips
If you haven't travelled a great deal then you will probably be surprised to learn how many city-based supermarkets stock vegan basics like nut milks. And fruit and vegetables will never be difficult to find.
Also, vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants are now popping up all over the world as more and more people are turning to veganism. Just as I have found, don't judge a book by its cover. You might think that a particular country wouldn't be particularly vegan-friendly, but it might very well surprise you.
Start with the basics. Visit sites like Happy Cow which are superb for locating vegan shops, cafes and restaurants. If it’s vegan-friendly accommodation you need, then try Veggie Hotels or Vegetarian Vacations.
A couple of other useful tips:
- Plan, Plan, Plan: If you want to maintain a healthy diet when travelling, then this is one of the most important parts. Before you set off on your travels, spend a bit of time doing some online research. While some travel books will often include the occasional vegan or vegan-friendly restaurant, it is sites like Happy Cow that will give you up-to-date information on the best places to eat in a particular country. I have also found that many official tourism websites are now catering for the vegan market and are including more listings on their websites. A great little tip to remember is that if you come across a website that isn't published in English, open the page using the Google Chrome browser and it will translate that webpage into English for you.
- Learn The Lingo: I have always found that phrase books are not very useful for specific diet phrases. I would suggest that you simply look-up the words for each food you want to avoid (meat, dairy and eggs etc) and learn these. These are often a lot more specific and people will understand you more easily than trying to explain that you are vegan.
- Grocery Stores and Farmers Markets: Farmers markets and grocery stores are very common in most countries. Don't be afraid to use them. They will stock everything you need to maintain a healthy diet. You will be able to identify most staples by sight, even if you can’t understand the writing. This is particularly good as you can then take these ingredients back to your hotel or hostel (if it has the facilities) and cook for yourself and friends.
- Avoid Anger: Remember that every meal doesn't need to be a culinary delight. It is perfectly acceptable to simplify your meals. I have been on long train journeys and have been satisfied by local organic bread, nut butter and jam. Most airlines also cater for vegans now too. They usually offer snacks and meal options, although many of these options are not usually healthy so always contact the airline before you travel to see what the options are. You can always take your own snacks if the choices are poor.
Over the last few years Goji Man lost both parents and a sister to chronic diseases. These loses convinced him that he needed to go vegan for his long term health. That was 7 years ago and he has never looked back. Goji Man is currently doing a MSc in Food, Nutrition & Health and runs the blog Goji Man Nutrition where he gives advice on ways to maintain optimum health and avoid common diseases. Follow him on Facebook and Instagram
One Comment on “How to Maintain a Healthy Vegan Diet While Travelling”
Thanks for sharing this. I have been looking for this since a long time now.
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