I will admit to being a little nervous making a post like this. I find it ridiculous that I am so nervous and am concerned about negative feedback from just admitting to being vegan but lets face it, vegans don't have the best reputation. I just want to make a little disclaimer; I am not writing this post to try and turn anyone vegan or force my opinions on anyone, I simply want to discuss my experience of travelling while leading a vegan lifestyle and the challenges that come with it!
I decided to write this after talking about my time in Melbourne as I found it so easy to find vegan food there. Melbourne was probably the best destination for vegans I have found so far as it was so easy to find appropriate food, the variety was incredible and it is so accepted and part of the norm. It felt amazing to have so many options of course but the main thing I appreciated was the awareness of veganism and how normal it was there. It was great for people not to look at me like a total weirdo when I would ask for soy milk or if there were any vegan options available!
Since travelling in Australia I have found a few places that are great for those leading a vegan lifestyle. It is mainly the larger cities (Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne etc) or areas where there are likely to be a lot of vegetarians or vegans (Byron Bay). Smaller towns or cities don't tend to have great options for eating out but overall Australian supermarkets (with the exception of IGA) have a pretty good selection of vegan food and I haven’t really struggled since I’ve been living here.
Whilst travelling through Southeast Asia sticking to a vegan diet was the total opposite. I had to ask about every meal, including meals listed as being vegetarian, as it just isn’t as common over there and they tend not to understand the ideals behind it. Numerous times I would accidentally order things with meat (even though they were listed as vegetable or even vegetarian) and in Thailand I more than likely consumed a lot of fish sauce as it tends to be in everything. With the fish sauce example you can obviously ask for it without but a small amount in used in all curry pastes and pretty much every other traditional Thai dish so it’s practically inescapable. Sometimes I just had to go a long with an ‘ignorance is bliss’ attitude, all you can do is ask and hope for the best.
Some places in Southeast Asia however make it incredibly easy to find vegan options, for example Bali. In many of the tourist towns in Bali I found there would always be at least one veggie restaurant or even multiple in some cases. Ubud in central Bali was particularly great for finding vegan food due to the type of traveller the area typically attracts. There is a strong focus on health and wellbeing there with a lot of spas and yoga retreats so it, I assume, would generally attract a lot of people following a vegan diet.
I have generally found that whilst travelling it is generally possible to find at least one veggie restaurant wherever you go or that it is possible to be flexible with menus in normal restaurants. It has been more challenging in some countries compared to others but its easier than you think when you do a little research into where you’re going and what options might be available. I was incredibly surprised to find a veggie restaurant in Marrakech, Morocco considering the local culture does not typically promote a cruelty free lifestyle, but it goes to show vegetarianism and veganism are becoming more widespread in recent years. I have noticed it becoming easier and easier over the past eight years that I have been vegan and its only getting better. Travelling as a vegan is also getting easier and in another eight years who knows, it might be standard that every restaurant has a vegan option!
P.S. I wanted to give a little shout out to Maria Giurcan’s book ‘How To Travel The World As A Vegan’ which I found incredibly helpful! You can find a copy of it here if you’re interested in checking it out.