I'm a personal trainer and nutritionist by trade, but always swear that I chose the wrong career. Given even a smidge of an opportunity to explore anything, I'm on it in a heart beat. Say the word "travel", and I'm packed in a nano second and ready to go. Lightly, with a soft tread, I relentlessly explore every nook and cranny of the new world that's been offered up to me. I embrace the "so much to see, so little time" approach when landed in a foreign place. The world is amazingly large, and I want to see as much of it as I can this time around.
However, as many vegetarian cultures as there are, there are more that are meat-centric. Some I have to respect, when the situation is presented as a humane hunter-gatherer, circle of life situation. Though it's not a scenario that I could embrace, it makes more sense in the long run than the factory farming and veal calf pens that I've passed in my own country. Living in a democracy I've noticed that we seem to nurture the best and the worst of humankind.
So what's a vegan to do when presented with restaurants full of meat this, and meat that? You usually have a rudimentary collection of appropriate phrases in the first language of the country that you are exploring, that hopefully strike the lines of dietary demarcation. Though trying to speak the language often opens a small door of compassion, it's not something you can bank on. When all else fails, find the markets!
I think I can live off markets, and probably have, if truth be told. That is where the true essence of a country can be found, as well as a plethora of veg delights.
Fresh fruit in season, vegetables to cook if you have access to a place to cook them, olive tapenades, luscious breads, tomatoes, plantains, little tasty bites of beans in pastry, the list is endlessly delicious. Almost every culture has a haven for vegetarians, whether they realize it or not. Jamaica has the beautiful Rasta people, France has markets almost every day of the week, Nevis has an active Seventh Day Adventist population that shares their food through takeaways, without the doctrine. The list is endless, but requires a little research and patience to access. But they all frequent the weekly markets. Stock up, find out where the purveyors are the rest of the week, and, indulge.
I'm traveling soon to visit one of my children, who lives i Europe. I successfully brainwashed (oh, did I say that?) her at a young age so she is still vegetarian at 29. We are going on holiday when I get there, and we have already searched for our markets. Picnics by day, dinners by night in the lovely little house we rented. We will eat well.
*Image courtesy Flickr creative commons.