The Flaming Vegan

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Vegan Travels
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Vegan Travels

When you’re a vegan and you decided to travel somewhere, food becomes much, MUCH more important. If you’re going on a day trip, you’re probably inclined to pack your own lunch. If someone organises a dinner at a restaurant, you have to check their website or call to make sure there’s something you’ll be able to eat. And as for overseas travelling, well, being vegan may even dictate where you decide to go. The main benefit of air travel as a vegan is that you always get your meal first...

I’m from Australia. Tasmania, to be precise. It’s a small island state located south of the main big bit that most people think of as Australia. This is where I grew up, and where I first stopped eating meat. It isn’t hard to follow a vegan diet in Australia. It’s easiest in the larger cities, but even small country supermarkets sell soy milk and veggie burgers. My dad’s green thumb made it a lot easier – salad vegetables, juicy red tomatoes, fresh chillies, amazing berries, and plenty of good hearty winter veggies in various shades of orange and green. I probably took it for granted.

I lived in Denmark a few years ago. Denmark is not a great place to be a vegan. These people have meat and cheese not only for lunch and dinner, but also for breakfast. The other thing about being vegan in Denmark is that everybody wants to know why. In Australia, nobody really cared either way. They would rather get angry at the footy than wonder why I was having a ketchup sandwich at a barbecue. But the Danes, no. They needed a full moral justification from me, complete with counter arguments and rebuttals. Then after they were satisfied with my explanation they would shake their heads and say “well, I could never live without meat!”. Yes, no liver pate or pickled herring. You really would be missing out. Mr Atkins would be shaking his head at my Danish diet; I pretty much had to survive on bread and potatoes.

Speaking of potatoes, Ireland is also a difficult place to be a vegan. I went to a supermarket in Dublin with my brother, who was living there at the time. We asked if the shop stocked any soy products. The young lad working there looked puzzled and thought hard for about twenty seconds before exclaiming “Yes! We have soy sauce!”. While this wasn’t very helpful, we did appreciate his enthusiasm and indeed ended up buying a large bottle of soy sauce. I don’t think we opened it. Also, the Irish love their pub meals. It’s very difficult to get a pub meal when you’re a vegan. “You don’t eat WHAT?!” I managed to slightly redeem myself by drinking a lot of Guinness. It’s practically a food.

In my experience, France is one of the worst places to be a vegan. Especially a vegan who can’t speak French. Not only are the French waiters offended that you can’t speak French, they’re more offended that you don’t want to order things from the menu exactly as they appear. “But what is ze problem vith ze goat’s cheese on ze vild rocket zalad?”. My advice would be buy a baguette and go to a park. And then go to Italy, which is much more vegan friendly. While you may not find vegan options on a standard restaurant’s menu, Italian food is just so damn adaptable. Get rid of the cheese and wham, done. Delicious vegan pasta. Or pizza! Or... nope, they’re your main options. Plus, Italians love fresh food, because they have so much delicious local produce (depending on where in the country you are). Olive oil, olives, delicious fresh bread, juicy tomatoes... bellissimo.

I have recently moved to the US, specifically to Portland, Oregon. I thought San Francisco was vegan heaven, until I crossed the border into Oregon, and explored Portland. It’s unbelievable. Not only are the supermarkets fully stocked with every vegan option possible, there are farmer’s markets almost every day around the city, selling great quality, cheap, Pacific North West produce. There are plenty of vegan restaurants, and just about everywhere has vegan options. And then there are the bakeries. Oooh, the bakeries! Vegan pastries, pies, cakes... The food carts are also incredible. They are so cheap, and there are so many of them that there isn’t really a single food you can’t get your hands on. Now all I (desperately) need is a vegan gym!

Yep, it’s a pretty amazing place for a vegan, and I don’t really want to leave. Unless you think there’s somewhere I’m missing out on?

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  1. BuddhasDelight
    BuddhasDelight
    great article! i am visiting family in oregon this summer but now i might make it a culinary tour as well! thanks for the tips. i love portland! haven't been in a while and def need to check out the veg scene there more. voted. :)
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    1. Mental4Lentilz
      Thanks!! Oh yes, you should definitely make it a culinary tour. The Happy Cow Vegin Out app is fantastic, but feel free to email me if you want any more info!
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  2. The Flaming Vegan Crew
    The Flaming Vegan Crew
    Wonderful post Emily! Thanks for being a vegan travel advocate!
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    1. Mental4Lentilz
      Thank you!
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  3. Clean Cook Lily
    Clean Cook Lily
    Excellent article where you you have hit the nail bang on the head as regards being a vegan voyager! I'm not as well traveled as my vegan fiance, but he confirms all of the above even before I read it out to him. He was worried about Italy, but found it a remarkably easy place to eat . And the fact that Ireland is not very vegan friendly is a constant surprise, especially as there are increasing numbers of great cafes/ restaurants / health food shops here in Britain. In France, I followed your suit and self catered- yup, lunch most days was a baguette. We have just come back from Castelldefels , which is just outside of Barcelona, Spain. We were house/pet sitting and so a little restricted, but there was a great veggie cafe. The language barrier sadly prevented us from dining out too often, but from what I can deduce there is always tapas. Some of the 'Scandi' countries are quite hip and on the ball, but only in certain areas I hear? Amsterdam was a doddle, fafafel bars on every corner and they speak good English too! Oh how I envy you living in Portland! DEFINITELY one for the bucket list.
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    1. Mental4Lentilz
      Thank you, I'm glad you agree! I would loooooove to visit Spain, and I think you're right about Scandinavia, I think it's just a matter of contemporary vs traditional, where the traditional is VERY traditional... Portland is amazing, you should definitely try to tick it off the list ;)
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  4. feet and fees
    Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Guinness isn't vegan -- isinglass (i.e., fish bladder) is used to fine/clarify it. Several other brands of beer undergo the same process. And plenty of wines, too. I don't know how well the Flaming Vegan folks would like it if I noted a couple of websites here, so I'll leave it for you to dig around on the web a bit -- there are a few sites to be found that list which breweries/wineries follow the practice and which don't. Bummer. Well, Guinness is overpriced anyway, especially in Ireland, of all places. But I still miss it.
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    1. Amelia
      Amelia
      Hey, I don't know if you will see this three years later, but I just wanted to share the news that Guinness will be vegan as of the end of this year.
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