Traveling as a vegan can sometimes be difficult when you’re trying to not starve and go by your principles. Countless times have I found myself immersed in a new culture, whose culinary traditions heavily rely on animal-based food, not being able to pronounce the crucial words properly, thus using my arms and legs in attempts to communicate that one thing: “No animals, no animals please”. Despite our outstanding skills at communication that much resembles that of toddlers, we’re still likely to end up picking pieces of meat out of our meals… I say this from experience, and it seems to be a common occurrence.
But not in Bali. Bali is the vegan mecca. You’ll find yourself not having to explain much in terms of food and your taste buds will be having the time of their lives for the entire trip. Not just that, but this gorgeous Indonesian island carries a unique atmosphere of contemplation, peace, and love for all that nature has given.
The Bali Vegan Festival
The Bali Vegan Festival was established in 2015 and is held each year in Ubud, the island’s cultural center. In the words of the kind people who organize this event, it is a festival dedicated to “inspiring people to choose a healthier, compassionate, ethical lifestyle through plant-based eating” and it is open to all, from proud vegans to those that are just vegan-curious. It’s a community event with talks, workshops, cooking classes, and family activities with all kinds of entertainment and education. I visited Bali just the year before the festival was established, unfortunately, but that just gives me a reason to make the trip back sometime soon.
This year, the Bali Vegan Festival is announced to be held from the 5th to the 7th of October at Paradiso Ubud and the surrounding area, but there is even going to be a new addition to it! For the very first time, another vegan festival is to be held in the village of Canggu from the 12th to the 14th of October. So if you’re contemplating a visit to Bali, make sure it falls within these days, and you surely won’t regret it.
This is a unique destination, both culturally and geographically, and no doubt, its popularity has grown greatly since the release of the book (and later, movie) Eat, Pray, Love, after which the island has become synonymous with spiritual tourism. With the “tourism boom” of the 2000’s, came an increase in the accommodation prices, but you can still find Bali deals, especially in the range of last-minute offers, if you’re looking for a more affordable option.
There are numerous villas and retreats to choose from in each destination, as well as traditional thatched bungalows which are commonly associated with the image of this island. If you’re looking for an immersive cultural experience, you might want to explore the option of a homestay with a Balinese family – some travelers have done this and shared their experience, so have a look and see if you’re up for a new experience.
Finally! You’ll be feasting for days on delicious vegan food at very affordable prices. Places like Ubud and Canggu are brimming with vegan and vegetarian restaurants. My favorite in Canggu was The Shady Shack, which had the most delicious Nori bowl on earth, and in Ubud, my top pick is definitely Wulan Warung, a cozy place that offers Indonesian food with a strong dedication to meals that are cruelty-free. Be sure to try the Nasi Goreng, which is an Indonesian version of fried rice, unique for its use of tamarind and Kecap Manis, the Indonesian sweet soy sauce. The best way to ensure you’re doing some serious food exploration while in Bali is by using the Happy Cow app with which you can find vegan restaurants in your area.
There are a lot of places that offer traditional Indonesian food where you can find vegan options, but there are also many Western-style vegan eateries. Also, don’t forget to pay a visit to the local markets, where you’ll find fresh produce from the local farmers and sweet corn grilled on the spot, for you to nibble on while exploring what the artisans of the market have to offer. And of course, be sure to try every piece of Balinese fruit there is – even durian! You may be repulsed by the smell, but it will be worth, and if it still ends up being a no-go – oh well, you’re in Bali!
There’s so much to say about Bali, but it’s best to leave you to explore and experience it all on your own. Feel the thick air on your skin and take it all in – the beaches, the vegetation, the beautiful animals, the incredible people, the amazing culture. It’s a place that really calls you to live your best, healthiest life.
Image source: unsplash.com