I love raw food, but I also love to travel. Ay, there’s the rub. If traveling as a cooked vegan isn’t challenging enough, try traveling as a raw vegan.
If you’re fully raw then this post isn’t for you, although you’re most definitely welcome to read it. (I do commend and admire you for your discipline and dedication. Just in case you’re still reading.) But if you’re high raw just like me, you probably want to minimize your cooked food intake as much as you can, wherever and whenever you can. It gets a little tricky when you’re eating out in a local non-vegan restaurant, and can be really daunting when you’re in an unknown territory.
I have been raw for more than 11 years, and I can definitely say that I’m not the same raw foodist I was in my early years into this lifestyle. I used to very uptight and anal. Heck, I was even orthorexic when I was fully raw for a year. Planning my trips used to be very stressful. I’d worry about not eating enough raw food. I’d anticipate feeling like crap if I eat cooked food. I’d quarrel with the airport security personnel who’d insist that I hand over my food to be cooked via x-ray radiation. I drove my family crazy with the smell of my packed raw cruciferous veg as I ate it in on the way to the airport, and got them hissing angrily at me when I ate freeze-dried durian several miles off the ground. Yes, freeze-dried durian still reeks a lot. In-flight friendly reminders include not eating smelly food during the entire duration of the flight, but I did it anyway.
Little by little I noticed that I wasn’t having as much fun as I wanted to in my trips. One day it just hit me: my practice abroad was not aligned with my purpose for going abroad.
So I asked myself, why do I travel? Hammering into my head the answer to this question helped me loosen up and become a little more lenient with my eating rules.
As a lover of novelty, my rationale for traveling wasn’t hard to figure out. The problem was that my rather rigid desire to meet my raw quota eminently foregrounded my reason for traveling. Just like most travelers, I want to experience new sights, sounds, and tastes. Different cultures fascinate me, so I travel to learn more about them and to be immersed in them, even for just a short period of time.
Food is a huge part of every culture. In my opinion, it’s the very aspect of culture that makes each culture unique and special. The biggest differentiating factor, so to speak. People from the same region usually share the same traits and temperament, but not the same food. Malaysian curry is not the same as Indian, Korean, or Thai curry. While I’m not the type who’d travel solely for food, I realized that I won’t be able to fully appreciate a new culture if I don’t try its local cuisine. So I said to myself, screw it if a local dish doesn’t have a raw version. I’m going to try it anyway.
I have a baseline and set point though: everything I eat has to be vegan. Cooked or raw, ***everything*** has to be vegan. I will compromise my raw percentage but not my vegan lifestyle. This decision gave me a lot of peace, and enabled me to enjoy my travels to the hilt.
I’ll give tips on how to eat as much raw food while traveling, as well as how to still enjoy your trip even when eating more cooked food than you normally do at home. Stay tuned!