Many who transition to a vegan or raw vegan lifestyle express-”It’s not easy eating out!” Deli food and bakeries are immediately omitted from your tour, and even the menus of many vegetarian restaurants and cafes contain dishes which are still animal-based and tend to have a very narrow selection of plant-based foods. Many of these dishes, even if there are vegan and raw options, also tend to be loaded with oils, and too much nuts and dried fruits, making them sugary and fattening. If you’re traveling, you are also subjecting yourself to days or even weeks of these meals, which can wreak havoc on your body.
Here is a guide to travel so you can keep your healthy raw vegan lifestyle!
Look around online to find out if there are any markets, health food stores, or restaurants that appeal to you and your needs. A great place to start is www.happycow.net. I highly recommend brilliant author, John McCabe’s book Sunfood Traveler: Global Guide to Raw Food Culture. You could even base your trip around places that have plenty of raw food destinations. There are many destinations that are ideal for “raw foodists”:
Almost anywhere in Central and South America is an excellent choice, as the variety of fruits and vegetables is impressive. My husband is Colombian, and every time we’ve been to Colombia I feel like a Queen with all the delicious fruits and veggies at the markets, with a variety that’s hard to beat. I love nispero, mamey, tree tomato, guayaba, maracuya (passion fruit), the most amazing papaya and so much more!
I lead my “Love Raw Food & Yoga Costa Rica Retreat” in the mountains of San Salvador near the Pacific Coast. My friends living in Costa Rica have fruit trees and lush gardens, and the markets are so colorful with all the huge variety of fruits and vegetables. Here is a youtube video I did for my Costa Rica Retreat March 6th to 14th, 2015. There are still a few spots left if you’d love to go to Costa Rica!
Mamey Fruit from Farm of Life Photo Gallery
I was also blown away by the superb raw food restaurants and cafes in London. If you go, you’ve got to try Wild Food Cafe. It’s the most gorgeous cafe with big open windows onto a narrow street and the food is fresh and vibrant. Everyone in the place is smiling! The fruit and vegetable markets in London (and I’ve heard also in other parts of England) are abundant, surprising since it’s a northern climate which we wouldn’t necessarily think would be so endowed with fruits and vegetables. Some of the best and largest fresh figs I bought at a large market in downtown London. Here is a youtube video I did when I spoke at the London Vegfest in September 2014. At the next table was a man who imports fruits and vegetables from Colombia to London! What a small world.
Wild Food Cafe in Covent Garden, London
California we would expect is a great scene for raw living foods, and that’s why it was the chosen location for the 2014 Raw Living Expo. I so much enjoyed the farmers markets all over. My friend in northern California has fig trees in her yard…I was out picking them every day! And of course Hawaii is another mecca for amazing fruit and vegetables. I’ll be going to the Woodstock Fruit Festival in Hawaii this April on the island of Oahu and am looking forward to all the amazing fresh fruit grown right there.
I was surprised to find during my trip to Russia in 2012 that Moscow had six restaurants which catered to raw vegan food. We went to eat at an Italian restaurant which had half of a traditional Italian menu and the other half of the menu was raw food Italian. I had a zucchini linguini with marinara and a borscht, absolutely delicious. I spoke at a health congress organized by the Russian Association of the Raw Food Movement and Naturopathy.
If you’re going out with family or friends to a restaurant that doesn’t have food available for you on the menu, make it a point to call ahead of time and find out if the restaurant would mind if you brought your own food. This is especially important for individuals with families who have different eating habits and don’t feel they have to choose a restaurant to accomodate your needs.
Some restaurants are very accommodating and allow people to bring salads or other foods as long as the other members of the party eat the food available. They would also be more receptive to someone who called ahead of time and explained his or her lifestyle choices, and surprisingly many restaurants today will be more than happy to have their chef prepare a dish which you will be happy eating. I have gone to restaurants with a list of vegetables I would like in my salad and have gotten some of the best dishes I could have ever imagined.
More and more restaurants are aware of vegetarians, vegans, and raw vegans, and often go out of their way to present excellent options. Do not be afraid to ask for substitutions. If a restaurant has organic or healthful foods and simply does not have dishes with a combination that satisfies your needs, ask them if you could put together your own meal with the ingredients listed in various dishes.
Research applications if you have a smartphone! Apps such as Vegout are amazing because they have a guide to restaurants that have vegetarian options. You can see which ones are in certain areas by typing in locations as well.
1. Nutribullets and other variations of them are very portable and powerful, so smoothies, dips, and spreads are easy to make in a hotel room.
2. Miniature spiralizers, such as the Spiral Slicer or Vagetti, are compact and handheld, so you can enjoy veggie pasta anywhere without sacrificing precious packing space. Veggie pasta also only takes minutes to make. There would be little time spent preparing food, and more time sightseeing.
3. Tupperware is great for packing also. Quickly spiralize a large amount of zucchini and whip up a sauce in your blender to have food for days.
Pack What You Can
Bananas, apples, nuts, etc are all easy and safe to travel with. Bananas don’t do so well on very long trips. I love bringing celery, as it’s nutritious, loaded with water and lasts well. While citrus fruits are not allowed across international boarders, apples and bananas are. They will keep you energized throughout your trip and keep you on the raw vegan track.
There isn’t much activity being done during long car rides or plane rides, and studies have even shown that jet lag can be avoided all together by not eating during a flight (Veganbackpacker). If you have the willpower to delay eating during rides, you could save yourself from the toxic and irradiated foods offered on planes or the road foods found at rest stops. While this may not be for everyone, it is a good healthy choice.
Eating healthfully is important, and although it may be temping to eat foods that you wouldn’t normally eat due to convenience or cravings, you should resist pressure to give in to foods that could be harmful. There should be options! Appliances, advance research, packing what you can, and fasting are wonderful alternatives to succumbing to cravings or the pressures of your surroundings. Also, instead of primarily focusing on meals, you can focus on having fun and enjoying your trip if you follow even a few of these tips!
Karen Ranzi, M.A. with Ramapo College Intern Jaclyn Keenoy