So, you’ve decided to go vegan on the road, but you’re wondering if it’s feasible? As a newly minted traveling vegan (I’ve been animal product-free for 2 months now), I know it’s not exactly an easy task, especially in places like South America where meat is a big part of people’s diet. However, it is doable if you’re willing to give it a go.
Without going into the why’s – everyone’s reasons for going vegan will differ, including simple economics – I’ll share what’s worked for me so far.
Cook Your Own Food
Time-consuming, but money-saving: cooking your own food on the road not only saves cash, but it enables you to take care of your own nutrition. When you cook your own food, you know exactly what you’re putting into your body. Here are a few quick tips to cooking your own vegan meals on the road:
- Have a few small bags of base foods, like lentils or beans (protein!), vegan pasta, rice, steel-cut oats, and the like in your panniers. They are easy to find anywhere, easy to cook, and can be a meal on its own if you can’t find any food stores nearby.
- Nothing can beat fresh veggies. They don’t keep and are bulky, so carrying them usually isn’t an option, but you can easily find them at local markets even in the tiniest villages. Avocado, broccoli, cucumber, spinach, tomatoes, cauliflower, zucchini – these are typically easy to find and can make a great stir-fry in addition to the lentil or rice dish.
- Carry your own spices. Lots of salad dressings and other condiments have eggs or milk in them, so carry a little salt and pepper as well as a few sachets of other spices. My own favorite is a tiny bottle of green Tabasco sauce that goes well with just about everything. Hummus also works, especially with pasta dishes. A small bottle of olive oil is another good item to have.
- Fresh fruit and nuts make f0r a great desert. Apples, pears, and nuts keep well and are easy to carry, whereas seasonal/regional fruit like mango, watermelon, cherries, and so on are a great addition to your breakfast!
Seek Out Vegan Restaurants
Vegan cafes and restaurants are a thing – even in South America. Sure, you won’t find them in villages and small towns (unless they’re very touristy, like Mancora in Peru), but most bigger towns and cities will have at least one vegan restaurant.
So far, I’ve been to several vegan restaurants in Colombia, Peru, and Ecuador, and they have been surprisingly good. When you think of vegan restaurants in South America, your mind might conjure up these dreary, sad places where patrons are served weird, tasteless, mushy food, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Most vegan restaurants offer starters, soups, wraps, pasta and pizza dishes, as well as burgers or tacos, plus delicious desserts, kombucha, and glorious frappes.
This portobello mushroom, quinoa, and lentil burger with almond milk cheese sauce in Lima, Peru, was especially delicious:
Going vegan on the road doesn’t mean you’ll have to subsist on salads, leaves, and horrible coffee: it just means you’ll need to get a little more creative with your food choices.