There’s not much left to eat once you’ve excluded meat, chicken, fish, eggs and dairy from your diet. At least, that’s what most people assume when we let on that we’re vegan.
They’re not that far off the mark mind you, mindful eating has eliminated a large portion of the foods that used to form part of our everyday staples.
As a rule of thumb we avoid the subject as far as possible because it usually results in us being gaped at in bewildered horror. People just don’t get why we’d voluntarily give up cheese. Unfortunately there are those occasions when we have to divulge our dirty little secret.
“Any special dietary requirements?”
“We don’t eat any animal products,”
“Would you like a cheese omelette?”
Conversations like these have taught us to always be prepared. Whether we’re traveling overseas or simply going out for coffee, we always ensure that we’ve packed for the occasion.
Restaurants and airlines are definitely more clued up these days, but while they may indeed be more vegan-friendly, there’s always the off chance that something could go awry.
Plus, just because it’s vegan doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be nutritious. Sporty and I are a little funny like that, we care less about taste and more about how good something is for us.
We get that this puts us on the pickier end of the picky scale and as such have come up with an arsenal of easy to pack snacks, staples and on-the-go meals to avoid going hungry, or worse, getting the low blood sugar grumps.
For road trips and long distance flights nothing beats a stash of fruit, nuts and trail mix. These foods are all easy on the digestive system, which is great since all you’re doing is sitting.
Choose user-friendly and hardy fruit such as apples or bananas. You don’t want it getting squashed in your bag and oozing juice all over your iPod and neither do you want to risk spraying your seatmate while peeling your naartjie.
Raw nuts are healthier than their roasted and salted counterparts, but they’re admittedly a little lack-luster in the flavor department. A good compromise is air-roasted nuts without salt.
If you have a decent health shop near you, make up a trail mix of goji berries, cacao nibs, dried Turkish white mulberries and Brazil nuts. Alternatively just buy something pre-packaged, but be sure to check the ingredients first. You’ll want to avoid anything with added sugar, salt or preservatives.
I used to work as a travel blogger for some private lodges and game reserves, and this entailed going on the occasional business trip to experience the properties firsthand. Not bad as jobs go, but definitely challenging from a dietary perspective.
I got around the problem by pre-mixing my smoothie ingredients into individual portions (Ziploc bags work well) and handing it to a skeptical chef with strict instructions to whizz it up with water, a banana and a little honey.
Hemp powder invariably turns the smoothie into a khaki affair, something the foodies find a little worrying. So if you decide to go this route it’s best to warn them upfront.
My mixture consisted of 1tbs chia seeds, 2tbs hemp powder, 1tbs raw cacao or cacao nibs and 1tbs maca, but if you don’t have super foods you could just as easily use vegan protein powder mixed with almond or rice milk powder.
Soaked oats make for a really convenient and nutritious meal. Simply measure out a portion of rolled oats (not pre-cooked) into a Tupperware container, add your super foods or protein powder and milk powder (optional) and enough water to cover and leave to soak overnight.
In the morning you’ll have a delicious meal ready to take with you on your travels. If you’re going camping or away for the weekend then simply measure out individual meals into Ziploc bags and add the water when you’re ready for breakfast.
Nut butter is a fantastic staple for the traveling vegan. That said, surprisingly few (hardly any, truth be told) restaurants serve it. The nationwide healthy food chain, Kauai, and Cape Town-based Osumo both do, but aside from them it’s slim pickings in South Africa when it comes to vegan toast smearing options.
We’ve taken to packing a small jar of nut butter when heading out into uncharted territory, or even if we’re just going for coffee, although the latter will often garner us a raised eyebrow.
The obvious caveat here is that you have to actually like the stuff. Surprisingly not everyone does, but then maybe that’s just because they’ve never tasted almond or cashew nut butter, both of which are sublimely delish.
Being vegan is by no means the most convenient lifestyle, but neither is it completely prohibitive. All it takes is a little careful planning and you’ll be fluent in traveling vegan.