Tips, Hacks & Inspiration, Travel
Leave a Comment

How to eat vegetarian while traveling

My first foray into eating a vegetarian diet was in college. My vegetarianism lasted about a semester and ended with a bacon feast. Given the limited vegetarian options available in the dining hall, and my sub-par cooking skills, it’s no wonder I didn’t make it past finals week.

Fast forward a decade and I decided to give vegetarianism another chance. I was midway through an around the world backpacking trip, and going meat free seemed like a fairly easy choice.

Southeast Asia offered plenty of vegetarian street food options, and I wasn’t too keen to eat meat after seeing fly-covered carcasses in outdoor markets, sans refrigeration. Add a general preference for vegetarian food plus concern for the environment and the weird realization that some people in Vietnam ate dogs, but kept pigs as pets… deciding to go meat free was easy.

Here’s a few tips for surviving a long term backpacking trip as a vegetarian:

Know your local cuisine

Depending on where you go in the world, eating vegetarian could be super simple (India) or a major hassle (anywhere meat is a major part of the diet). Research your destination before you go and make sure you know what vegetarian options you’ll find in the local cuisine.

Take a daily multivitamin

Sustaining a healthy vegetarian diet while traveling requires nutritional know-how. If you simply subtract meat and make up the caloric deficiency with sugar and processed foods, your health is going to suffer. Make sure you are informed about your daily nutritional needs, and give yourself the added nutritional boost of a daily multivitamin.

Eat enough protein, healthy fats and iron

Protein and healthy fats are what keep you keep you going on long travel days. Be sure you’re getting sufficient protein, in the form of tofu, legumes or dairy, and don’t be afraid to load up on healthy fats found in avocado, butter and some oils, which will help you feel full longer. Iron is an important mineral our bodies need to function; luckily, it’s present in many foods. Educate yourself about how to eat enough iron as a vegetarian and how iron is absorbed by your body, so your long term travel doesn’t lead to a deficiency.

Go green

Pack spirulina or green veggie powders or capsules for countries where your green veggie intake is low. This includes anywhere it isn’t typically safe for travelers to eat the salads, or where salad isn’t really part of the local cuisine.

Healthy snacks

Processed food snacks are everywhere, but these toxic sugar packets won’t keep you going for long. Instead, opt for healthy snacks like fruit and nuts. I was surprised to find fruit and some type of nuts available in practically every country I traveled to on my around-the -world trip. In Myanmar, the nuts were peanuts, but these were sold in most small markets and even served as an appetizer at restaurants…a major score for a vegetarian, especially in a country where healthy snacks were difficult to find! Fruit is also readily available and sold on street corners around the world; just remember your body can’t survive on mangoes and papaya alone.

BYO

Load up your backpack with your favorite healthy vegetarian snacks from home, and consider shipping yourself a care package to pick up along the journey. Those bars, trail mix, dried fruit, roasted chickpeas etc. can really make a difference in your daily vegetarian travel diet.

Be flexible

You came to see the world, and one of the important lessons long term travel teaches is how to be flexible. You’ll know when it’s time to be flexible about your vegetarian diet; perhaps it’s a home cooked meal in a remote village, or the only option besides a processed food snack. Make the choice that’s right for your body, your health and your experience —and don’t beat yourself up for a minor slip up.

Have you traveled somewhere as a vegetarian? I’m curious what strategies other travelers use to sustain a healthy vegetarian diet while traveling. Share your tips below! 

1U5A5454

A breakfast spread, enjoyed while on a camel safari in the desert near Jaisalmer, India.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Myanmar cuisine, featuring… peanuts!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Amazing night market with tasty vegetarian wraps in Pai, Thailand.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Lost inside a maze-like market off La Rambla in Barcelona, Spain.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Fresh salad on a tiny island near Santorini, Greece

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Dal, a Nepalese staple.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Fresh-baked donuts on the beach in Sumbawa? Yes, please!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Yogurt with walnuts, honey and berries in Athens, Greece.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Colorful dragonfruit in Bali for the win.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Street food Pad Thai from a night market in Thailand.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A Balinese mountaintop roadside feast.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

DIY protein + healthy fats breakfast in Bali.

IMG_9949

Dragonfruit, mango and papaya fruit salad.

Hacks (5)

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s