Cool-you’re a compassionate lifestyler, animal & environmental saver, and your health stays winning-a.k.a you’re a vegan. BUT, now, you’ve decided to trek out to Asia and you’re worried about maintaining your lifestyle without starving to death. TVV’s got you covered with five tips below. 🙂
1. TAKE YOUR FAVE SNACKS WITH YOU
Yes, yes-may seem obvious, but just a reminder. Don’t forget to stock up on your fave snacks, whether it’s chips, dried fruit, cookies (…you can find Oreos almost everywhere in Asia, by the way), or whatever, really. For whenever the struggle gets very real, and you’re in a far off, vegan-absent corner of whichever country you’re in, at least you know you can reach into your backpack and there’ll be something there. I always pack a few of my trusted rolled oat biscuits, a bag or so of chips, and a bag of oats (to which I add boiling water, cinnamon, cranberries & chia seeds for breakfast or a meal-in-betweener).
2. LEARN HOW TO SAY “I DON’T EAT MEAT”, “I DON’T EAT EGGS” & “I DON’T DRINK MILK” IN THE LOCAL LANGUAGE/S OF WHEREVER YOU ARE.
It may be a good idea to get translations of the sentences above and have them stored in your notes section on your phone. WiFi is not always existent, so if you’re relying on Google Translate when you’re on the spot, this isn’t going to work out. If you’re anything like me, and want to be more of a traveller than a tourist, then you will also want to frequent local & culturally indulgent spots rather than the touristy areas where English is widely spoken. (….unless you’re in China, because then, there’s no English wherever you are! If this is the case, the Mandarin for “I don’t eat meat”-” Wǒ bù chī ròu” is worth learning. I use it daily, because the Chinese add meat to everything. If you’re visiting China for the first time, be sure to check out my tips here: https://the-vegan-vagabond.com/2019/02/07/mainland-china-first-timer-tips/)
3. RESEARCH WHICH INGREDIENTS ARE TRADITIONALLY ADDED TO FOOD. ASIAN COUNTRIES ADD NON-VEGAN INGREDIENTS TO EVERYTHING.
*This is my most important and essential tip! Local cuisine in different countries have culturally and location specific ingredients which are added to every dish.
In Thailand, fish oil/sauce/paste is added to EVERYTHING. You need to be wary and specifically state that whatever food you’ve ordered, it needs to exclude these.
In India, ‘ghee’, or clarified butter, is an automatic ingredient-rice dishes, curries, gravies…everything. Once again, you need to enquire which foods on the menu are specifically exclusive of this. Often, you may not have any luck.
In China, everything has tiny shreds of meat, and veggies may be fried in animal fat. Culturally, it’s believed that food needs meat to have a satisfactory taste. In fact, this may be the hardest country I’ve ever been in to practise an entirely vegan lifestyle.
The list is ceaseless, and so, it’s truly important to be clued up on your destination-specific food practices, cooking customs, and cuisine essentials before you start ordering up what may seem like a perfectly innocent veggie fried rice, or vegetarian Pad Thai.
4. FIND VEGAN RESTAURANTS NEAR YOU.
I recommend https://www.happycow.net, a well-loved site that, chances are, you’re already accustomed to. If you’re in a bigger city or cosmopolitan area, you’ll be surprised to find that there’s more vegan food available than you’d imagined. Unfortunately, most smaller cities and local towns aren’t going to have any vegan-friendly options, or any that show up on the search.
If you’re in Malaysia, don’t forget to read TVV’s previous post where I’ve written a semi-detailed account of the restaurants I found, and the experiences I had. There’re pictures too 🙂 Hopefully, I’ll be uploading more content soon on other destinations.
5. BOOK A PLACE WITH A KITCHEN. OMG, IT SAVES LIVES.
It’s totally possible to book a hotel or suite with a kitchen. This means you can cook your own food, and don’t have the added burden of language barriers, or worrying about everything in tip#3. If you’re on a strict budget, AirBnB to the rescue, and you can search for apartments.
That’s all for now. 🌱
Feel free to drop a comment on your experiences and on additional advice!
Happy Travels Vagabonders ☮