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For vegans.....travel and food

Being ovo-lacto, I have been very lucky in my travels getting a meat free diet.  For those of you who travel extensively, what obstacles do you come across being vegan?

I have travelled to some very remote places and live a board dive boats.  Restaurants in the area were not an option because there weren't any.

I have tried to cut down dramatically on dairy and eggs and will continue to do so. 

By being ovo-lacto, they felt they could feed me.  Had I been vegan, I would have eaten lettuce.  I actually went on one live a board dive boat where the cook though vegetarian meant I wouldn't eat meat but would eat soup with a beef base.  I lost weight on that trip and complained upon my return.  The cook has since been educated about vegetarians.  I do not think, although I could be wrong that they would be able to accommodate a vegan.

For the last 8 or 9 years, most of my trips have been dive vacations.  The chefs/cooks have been most accommodating to me.  Had I been vegan, I think I would not have had much food.

Remember on a live a board or remote locations, fruits and veggies are not so easily accessible.

So, how do you all handle it?

It is easy to say bring some food and diving although doesn't seem strenuous, it totally is.  One needs good nutrition.  I can eat and eat on a dive trip and still lose weight.  Doing 15 to 20 dives in a week plays a toll on one's body.  One needs to be fit and optimally fed.

So, what do you all do?  It is way easier if you are going to a resort or a location with many restaurants.  What do you do in really remote locations?

i've never really enjoyed traveling, so it isn't much of a problem for me. i'm always close to home and my vegan chow. when i travel, it is usually to large cities, and then i usually hit up a grocery store, veggie places, or salad bars for meals.

because i don't travel, i haven't put a lot of thought into what i would do. i guess i would first try to find a company that would accommodate my diet (like if i was going on a tour or cruise or whatever) or travel to places where it wouldn't be hard to be vegan.

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i've never really enjoyed traveling, so it isn't much of a problem for me. i'm always close to home and my vegan chow. when i travel, it is usually to large cities, and then i usually hit up a grocery store, veggie places, or salad bars for meals.

because i don't travel, i haven't put a lot of thought into what i would do. i guess i would first try to find a company that would accommodate my diet (like if i was going on a tour or cruise or whatever) or travel to places where it wouldn't be hard to be vegan.

There lies the problem for me.  Diving is often very remote and I am very anti cruise because of the pollution and waste they produce.  I have no problem when I go to resorts or cities.  Although mostly buffet.  Many cruise lines have been caught throwing their waste over board.  Many have had total disregard for reefs.  I went on one cruise and will not make the same mistake again.

I love travelling and I love diving.  I am just trying to figure out how I can cut down on the things I am trying to cut down on.

Unfortunately, if one dives and goes on live a boards and I have researched many, one eats what is available. 
They try to accommodate special requests... but it can fall short.  I know it would for vegans.

I am not willing to give up diving and yet, I want to ensure that I don't have to eat what I don't want to eat.  As well, I won't stop travelling.  Seeing the world is on my 'bucket list'.

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I posted about this in another thread in answer to someone saying they felt they would have to compromise their vegan values when travelling.

When I was in Ireland for study abroad I was staying in a small village where the predominant industries were fishing and farming.  I was the only vegan in my group.  I would walk a 4 mile trip to the small grocery store 3 to 4 times a week to get the food I needed (veggies, soups, pasta and soymilk believe it or not) and cooked nearly all my food the entire time we were there.  When we did all go out to eat my choices were usually reduced to a salad and a baked potato or fries in the village.  We did take bus trips to larger surrounding cities where I'd be able to find tastier food.  I even found a mexican restaurant in Galway that offered a vegan burrito and a HFS that carried specialty items that I stocked up on and carried home on the bus.  I didn't find it difficult to be a vegan in Ireland and the restaurant servers went out of their way to be helpful.

On personal vacations abroad I tend to stay away from hotels and instead look for cottages to rent.  Again for the same reason above in the ability to cook my food.  That's not saying I avoid restaurants when travelling.  Usually I do a lot of research before hand looking at town websites to check out restaurants and menus.  I sort of plan my stays based on the easiet places to find food.

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When I was 17 I spent a year in Japan with a host family.  At the time, I was vegetarian, but agreed to go pescatarian so as not to make things difficult for my family, as my host mother would be cooking three meals a day for me, and they are such big fish eaters.

Since then I have also travelled quite a bit, and I try to stick as much as possible to a vegan diet now.  However, it depends on the place.

My main concern- what is a guiding factor in my decision to be vegan- is the factory farming processes of western society.

When I travel to Peru this year, I think I will be vegetarian when there are no vegan options to be had.  Apparently (says a friend) it will be easy enough to be vegan there, but if not, then vegetarian is OK by me.  I don't think (and please, correct me if I am wrong here) that Peru has nearly the same wasteful, factory farming mentality as the United States or Europe.  I get the impression that it is more traditional farming practices, not conveyor belt atrocities.

Like I said- if anyone knows otherwise, enlighten me!  This could change everything!

So, it depends on where you are going and how they treat the animals.  My big problem is with western society and so the more remote places usually don't have the resources to be as disgustingly wasteful.

I would, however, at all costs, avoid animal flesh and fish.  Just couldn't go back to it.

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By the way, where is some of the best diving you have done?  I've heard Egypt's Sharm-el-Sheikh region is pretty awesome, and I'm planning to go soon, but the best that I have seen is a drift dive off the coast of Cozumel.

It is extremely strenuous for sure!

And Mirrya- yup.  Fries are just about the only vegan option when being vegan in Ireland!  My boyfriend is Irish, so when we go to visit his family, that's pretty much my diet!

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the last couple of times that i've traveled, its been super easy!  When i lived in copenhagen, there were tons of health food stores and veggie/fruit stands.  When I traveled to ireland, some of the people that i stayed with were veggie or even vegan.  mirrya1, galway was such a neat town wasnt it???!  i traveled around ireland with carnie folk and we hung out at the square while they juggled and did all kinds of carnie things.  heh.

i just came back from a small tour, i also i went on tour this summer and last summer.  last summer was all over the US, 22 cities/towns.  I think at just about every house we stayed at, we were either made a spectacular vegan dinner, or we could go to the grocery store and make something vegan.  i love going on house tours!  theres so many vegans, even in such little towns, like minot north dakota!  while we were there, they had a vegan bar b q.  it was totally awesome.

diver-di do you dive at reefs and such?  our family goes to one in key west every year that is just spectacular.  but i think that they are taking too many people out there and its dying.  eek.

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Since I have not really traveled outside of the country I have no practical knowledge to impart.  I have however contemplated doing SCA events in the region that would amount to camping for 2 weeks.  So far I have yet to convince myself that I want to do that!  But I have thought about it.

Now, my idea of what to take on a 'dive' or extended 'camping' trip would be:  Plastic resealable bagged dried foods such as rice, beans, various veggies and fruits.  Invest (or get one from Freecycle) in a dehydrator.  Make up seitan and dry it into 'jerky'.  Dry it in strips for re hydrating into foods.  Do the same for tofu too!  Marinate and dehydrate.  Then slice up veggies and blend them together in bags.  One for a soup with dry pasta, one for rice with spices in the bag, one for a veggie paella with dry seitan and tofu in it along with rice.  Have your beans in their own bags so all you  have to do is add water to soak in the bag, rinse out and then cook separately.

If everything is handy, pre-seasoned and ready to cook, it should be simple to either give instructions to the cook or do it yourself.  Sure you may have a dozen plastic zip bags, but that is better than eating soup with beef base in my eyes.

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When I traveled to ireland, some of the people that i stayed with were veggie or even vegan.  mirrya1, galway was such a neat town wasnt it???!  i traveled around ireland with carnie folk and we hung out at the square while they juggled and did all kinds of carnie things.  heh.

Yes it was hiimkelsi!  I was travelling with a group of 12 kids from my college.  We did a lot of hiking around the general area we were staying and took several bus trips around to historical landmarks.  One of my favorite times in Ireland was when I went with another girl to Galway where we stayed in a hostel.  There was such a mix of people there and exploring Galway was great.  So many intersting places and cool people around.  The girl I went with ate vegan with me and we certainly had no trouble in finding good eats.

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Hi Di. Travel is a subject near and dear to my heart. I love to travel but don't do it as much anymore.  In my student days I went to Turkey several times and I recall existing on rice, bread, watermelon and eggplant as well as yogurt. While they had a lot of veggies, it is a meat eating place and there weren't too many beans available like you might find in middle eastern countries.

Years ago--childless--we went with friends of ours to Bonaire (for snorkelling) and that was a very difficult place.  Everything was fish, conch and steak.  My husband cannot eat dairy and so he is practically vegan. Even being L/O--you do not want all--or even most--of your meals to have dairy.

Usually when we travel we try to stay in places with kitchens and I wind up packing a lot of food to bring with us.  I never know what is available in the local supermarkets--sometimes I am pleasantly surprised and realized I didn't need to go through all the trouble.  The thing I hate the most is my children's soymilk. They drink edensoy extra and it is not always easy to find. If we go away for a week I pack a suitcase of it and sometimes it weighs 60 pounds.  There is nothing like paying a $25 surcharge to the airline because your suitcase of soymilk is over the weight limit.

Also, sometimes the customs/security officials really go through your food.  We went on one trip where all of my boxes of nature burger mix and falafel were ripped open and some of it got scattered all over. For a year after that my luggage smelled like cumin!

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Usually when we travel we try to stay in places with kitchens and I wind up packing a lot of food to bring with us.  I never know what is available in the local supermarkets--sometimes I am pleasantly surprised and realized I didn't need to go through all the trouble.  The thing I hate the most is my children's soymilk. They drink edensoy extra and it is not always easy to find. If we go away for a week I pack a suitcase of it and sometimes it weighs 60 pounds.  There is nothing like paying a $25 surcharge to the airline because your suitcase of soymilk is over the weight limit.

Oh..forgot to say I've done that too!  Usually just some dehydrated soup mixes, dried fruit and nut mixes, and granola bars.  Nothing along the lines of a bag of soymilk though.  :lol:  One thing I found in Ireland that I wish they had here...strawberry soymilk.  It was delicious.

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I suppose you're always near other people, so you'll find bread at least. also, are you diving in warmer climates? why wouldn't you be able to get fruit and veggies? I'd stock up in a bigger town and carry some stuff with me to the more remote areas.

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I have loved all of your responses.  Being ovo lacto, I have been very lucky, other than that one trip.

Other locations I have travelled to have gone out of their way to feed me with respect to my dietary choices.  Must be my winning personality.  ;D

I even think some have tried to not incorporate dairy or eggs although I still eat both but trying to cut down whenever possible. 

I have been on the Nekton 3 times, my fourth this summer and Peter Hughes once.  I sort of feel bad that on most, they have prepared meals just for me although there was another vegetarian on one of the Nektons.  They have never complained and have been amazing.  My last Nekton trip, the the girl that prepared the meals would come and ask me if such and such was OK to prepare for me. 

One trip the crew member made me vegetable lasagne.  The next day she asked if something was OK to make me.  I said, I will have left over lasagne.

No one has ever wanted to feed me fish, poultry or meat, except the lady that didn't understand what a vegetarian was.

On the Peter Hughes live a board, the chef was spectacular.  The crew thanked me because they eat the same stuff every week.  Monday is this, Tuesday is that.  They said they loved having a vegetarian aboard because the chef always made too much so they could get to eat something different than the norm.

I went to the British Virgin Islands November/December 2006.  The place I stayed the first week on Tortola had some amazing veggie dishes.  Rasta Pasta being my favourite.  Also got to enjoy many great veggie burgers at various places.  My second week on Jost Van Dyke, breakfast and supper were included.  The chef made me the most spectacular meals.  I had to question many times if I was eating meat.  Considering they had a planned menu with two or three choices, I applaud them for accomodating me.  The BVI's are amazing but it is not a commercial place like Canada or the US.  My first week on Tortola, I stayed at a place that had three rooms. My second week on Jost Van Dyke, Sandcastle had 6 little cottages.

I guess, I was trying to ask how hard it would to be vegan?  As I am ovo-lacto, I think it was easier for me and places to prepare for me.  Yet, many of my meals were vegan.  :)

As to the questions about where I have dived and where I have loved most.

I only have about 220 dives. 

I have favourite places for different reasons.

The Bahamas where I am going this summer.  Crystal clear water and lots of sharks! This summer will mark my third time diving in the Bahamas.  So many fish, sea turtles, dolphins and sharks.  All three times have been on the Nekton.  A live a board dive boat.  I love sharks! Sea Turtles being my favourite.  OK, I love dolphins too and got to snorkel with two moms and two babies for over 20 minutes.  Just me, another guy and the four dolphins.  Within 6 feet of us.  As well a whale shark baby.

Roatan, Honduras.  Spent a month there right after Hurricane Mitch.  Two weeks in February and two weeks in November/December.  Beautiful country. The chef at Anthony's Key Resort fed me well.  AKR is also a place where they study dolphins.  Yes, they have dolphins in captivity but they are huge ocean pens and all can jump over the low pens.  They have contributed to a lot of the info known about dolphins.  I hate dolphin capitivity but their research has helped many dolphins in the wild.  They take two dolphins out for a dolphin dive.  The dolphins can stick around and dive with you, go home or take off.  The dolphin snorkel they offer is also amazing.  In February the year I went, I hugged a pregnant dolphin. I felt the babies heartbeat.  As it was just after Hurricane Mitch, they named the baby Mitch.  In December that same year, I met Mitch.  I went over to the little island where the dolphins were.  I was by myself and sat on the pier and had my feet daggling in the water.  Mitch came up to me and looked at me.  I had never seen him as a dolphin. I had just felt his heart beat.  He nudged my toes.  I sat for over an hour and I have to say it was one of the most spiritual experiences of my life.  Baby Mitch didn't leave me while I was there.  Crying like a baby.  Me, not Mitch.

Cozumel:  Amazing.  I did my 200th dive there with some great friends.  They presented me with a 200th dive plaque underwater.  Huge drift dive.  Was more than hard trying to stay still for a picture!  Huge manta rays on that dive.  As well, on our surface interval, 6 dolphins came close.  We all jumped in the water with our fins and snorkels.  The huge male came within 2 feet of us.  There was a man and his daughter in the water close to the beach.  We were shouting to them to turn around and see the dolphins.  Finally they got the message.  The dolphins came within feet of them as well.

Provo (Turks and Caicos):  Beautiful and peaceful diving. 

Playa del Carmen, Mexico.  My first two ocean dives.  Very special.

St. Lucia:  Got my advanced certification there.  Gorgeous.

Mona Island, Puerto Rico:  Un frigging believable.  My most strenuous diving.  Very rough.  The most beautiful virgin coral.  Hardly any one dives there.  We did a couple of dives where it was so rough that was had to stay as a group. Then two people at a time would swim back to the boat.  The crew would grab our BCD's and try to heave us on the boat.  All the while, our fins in the rungs of the ladder.  The waves were so wicked that if a big wave came, we were flung back about 5 feet in to the ocean and had to try again.  I wear a full 3mm wetsuit and I came home with huge bruises.  None the less, I would never have missed this trip and the diving.

My dive wish list or 'Bucket List', the movie I hope to see tomorrow.

Australia: the Great Barrier Reef (want to do a cage dive with Great Whites)
Cocos Island, Costa Rica (a huge amount of sharks)
The Galapagos (land and diving)  another place for mega sharks
Fiji
Anywhere in the south pacific.
Dominica
Tobago
The BVI's.  I had a fall and smashed my head on a porcelain floor a couple of weeks before my trip.  I contacted DAN (Diver's Alert Network, the people I am insured with for diving accidents) and their doctor recommended I didn't dive for a few months as it was possible to have a seizure underwater after a head injury.
OK, anywhere that the water is warm!

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I suppose you're always near other people, so you'll find bread at least. also, are you diving in warmer climates? why wouldn't you be able to get fruit and veggies? I'd stock up in a bigger town and carry some stuff with me to the more remote areas.

Live a board dive boats get their food for the week.  Not near land for the week.  They have all been great though except for the cook that had no clue what a vegetarian was.  I did eat a lot of bread! ;D

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I have always wanted to go to Tobago. It understand it was one of Jacques Cousteau's favorite places and the locals refer to manta rays as "water taxis."  Also, it is next to Trinidad and if you've ever looked through a copy of Madhur Jaffray's "World Vegetarian" there is no way you could not want to go to Port au prince after looking at some of those recipes.

Last year we went to Curacao and I was surprised to see that the coral is definitely not in the shape I was expecting.  I had not been to the Caribbean in a while and it is sad to see how brown everything is getting.

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Most of my travel is a week or less, and I come home hungry.  That being said, what gets me through a lot is instant foods.  I pack instant black bean soup whenever I travel.  I'll also take freeze-dried fruit and veggies (Just Tomatoes brand).  I don't know if you can transport freeze-dried fruit between countries.  Of course, a lot of times I travel for work and my exertion is just to stay awake during meetings.  Basically, I think in terms of what would work for backpacking will work for travel.

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I searched for this topic because I hate to start a new one unnecessarily, and this was the closest I found.

Has anyone ever traveled to a less developed country while vegan? 

I want to go on a school mission trip to Mozambique, but I don't know how I could in terms of food.  I'd be with a group of students, for about 2 weeks, but supposedly they try to totally immerse in the culture.  I just don't think I could eat meat or anything that was blatantly milk or eggs.  I know I could bring my own food to survive there, but how can I avoid being disrespectful of their culture and hospitality and all that?

If anyone else has dealt with a similar situation, I'd really like to benefit from your experience.

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Sorry, I've not travelled to less developed countries so I don't have any experience in dealing with different cultures/hospitality issues.  All my overseas trips were to Europe.

Good luck!!

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It really depends on your situation--if you are eating with all 22 students as a group that is different than staying with a family and having them cook specifically for you and then rejecting most of what they offer.  This is something you should discuss with the trip organizers.

Also--you should definitely NOT stay home because of your dietary concerns.  That would just be too sad.  Throw some peanut butter, asceptically packed tofu and seitan primal strips into your suitcase and practise being extra gracious and charming. 

It sounds like a great trip!

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My sister has done a couple of international development trips to countries in Africa. She's vegetarian, but went vegan JUST for the trips. Sounds backwards? Even though a lot of the food is animal-based, she found it a lot SAFER to just opt out of the stuff entirely - no cheese, yogurt, etc. Less of a chance of food bourne illnesses, etc.

It wasn't too hard for her - she just told people she didn't eat animal products, and instead ate a lot of beans, peanuts, and fresh fruits and veggies.

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Okay, I know this thread is pretty old, but I just had to chime in here. 

Just got back from a trip to Mexico with my hubby (L/O veg with corn allergy) and my sister and her husband (both omni).  This was our second annual trip, and the first since we discovered the allergy.  Both trips, to accommodate the various diets, we have opted for all-inclusive resorts.  This trip turned out to be somewhat of a disaster for me.

Eating for the family was okay but the buffet was really small compared to where we went last year.  DH had problems because so many things had corn and he didn't want to overdose on dairy since he's also lac-intolerant.  I was reduced to fruit and bread for breakfast and fruit, pasta, various salads, bread for lunch/dinner.  I tried the create-your-own pasta once, but I'm not sure what they added to it before I could ask, maybe a stock of some sort.  All the steamed veggies didn't appear to be swimming in oil, but they could have been buttered anyway.  I ended up snacking on a lot of french fries (fried with the meat??) and guacamole.

Anway, I was sick the whole time we were there.  Stomach cramps and all the associated misery.  I thought originally it was because of all the fried junk, oils, unhealthy foods.  I was so careful of the water, but now I think I picked up the local bug anyway because I ate so many pre-cut raw fruits and veggies.  We both took enzymes to help knowing there were likely to be hidden ingredients we weren't used to and I brought individual soy milks and a bunch of snacks (Primal strips, Larabars, granola), but I got sick anyway.  In retrospect, I should have just stuck to my own food, but I figured we paid for the food already and I wanted something "fresh" instead of packaged for every meal.

So the whole point of this post, DH and I got our diving certification while we were there and then we did a drift dive off Cozumel.  We both are really anxious to head out again for more diving, but I'm really wary now.  We usually opt for all-inclusives because we can usually find something to eat, we don't have to worry about buying groceries, and sometimes it's impossible to decipher ingredients in different languages (especially corn-derived), but I'm really put off now and we're in a bit of a quandry.  I've wondered about live-aboards, but between DH and I, it's practically impossible to prepare a menu without extensive research.  I don't want to pay more for food only to have to always take everything anyway. 

Any thoughts?

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