Vegan in Asia

I came back a week ago from travelling in Asia and I am excited to share with you my experience, what I have learned and some tips as well.

My trip consisted of three different destinations with different purposes.

  • Hong Kong – the purpose was to attend a wedding and to spend as much time with family as possible
  • Malaysia – a family vacation that included lots of sightseeing
  • Japan – to visit friends in their hometowns, sightsee, and try some vegan food!

BEFORE THE TRIP:

Similar to any trip, or even my day-to-day life in general, I always like to think ahead and be prepared. Living this lifestyle requires commitment and effort but it is easily sustainable when done correctly; such as preparing and planning ahead of time as well as being flexible and accommodating.

  • Inflight Meals 
    • I travelled with Hong Kong Airlines, and the flight between Vancouver and Hong Kong included a meal. Prior to my trip, I had looked up on their site whether they offered special meals. Not only do they offer special meals but they give many and I mean MANY options for special diets and preferences. The one I chose was the Raw Vegan Meal, consisting of just raw fruits and vegetables. (Next time I would want to try their cooked vegan meal as I am very curious what that consists of). The following are the meals that I received, although the quantity was limited, I was still pleasantly surprised at the variety they offered.
  • Food for the trip
    • I knew there may be times where I may not have my preferred types of food easily available so I wanted to bring food from home just in case.
      • Protein Powder – I packed a ziploc bag of Garden of Life Chocolate Protein Powder and my blender bottle. I got the chocolate flavour because it is more palatable and I can drink it on its own with water.
      • Bars – I brought a box of Peanut Butter Larabars. These make for a great on the go snack for when you are wanting a little boost in between meals to tie you over.
      • Dehydrated Fruits – I brought multiple bags of dehydrated apple and banana chips. (They were a major hit when I shared them with family and friends.)
      • Dried Fruits – I brought a whole bag of dried figs. (Although heavy, it was totally worth it!)
      • Fresh Fruit – Many people did not know you can actually bring food, such as fruits on the plane. I brought fruits such as bananas, grapes, dates and oranges; packing them either into containers or ziplock and bringing them on my carry on. (*Note: Please check ahead of time the laws and regulations of the country you are entering to. For example, Malaysia forbids bringing fruits such as citrus fruits, mangos, mangosteen and banana species into the country, otherwise everything else is fair game.)
  • Supplements
    • I usually bring a few supplements along with me on a daily basis regardless. This consists of a probiotic, digestive enzymes, and a multivitamin.
      • Digestive Enzymes – Travelling can put a huge amount of stress on your body. The time change may negatively impact your body, especially your digestive system. Therefore, digestive enzymes may be highly beneficial to help digest some of your perhaps different and heavier meals.
      • Probiotic – Probiotics not only help with the digestive system, but also the immune system. It is very important to keep your gut healthy with sufficient good bacteria in order to reach optimal health.
      • Multivitamin – Not only is a multivitamin helpful to tackle stress and all the other toxins you may be exposed to. But it may prevent you from catching a cold or getting sick from a drastic weather change, or simply provide you with the necessary nutrients when you may not be consuming enough or sufficient amounts through your food.

DURING THE TRIP:

In case you didn’t know, I very much enjoy being fully raw, if not high raw. As a result, I can easily eat just fruit for a meal. Luckily, many of the places I went to, especially Hong Kong and Malaysia had a variety of fruits that were reasonably priced and easily available. I would buy an abundance, pre-wash and have them ready to bring on the go with me (particularly on sightseeing/day trips).

I was also able to have access to a kitchen on occasion, where I would buy local and fresh veggies and broil them. A few of my aunts also very kindly steamed some corn on the cob and baked some sweet potatoes for me as well. Bless them.

In Malaysia, we stayed in a resort, which offered a buffets throughout the day. My family usually ate there for breakfast. Most often, you can count on fresh fruits and veggies, even if it’s just a few varieties. Depending on how big the buffet is, there are also usually at least a few additional vegan options as well. In this particular resort, there were steamed corn, baked sweet potatoes, tater tots, coconut milk veggie curry, grilled veggies, and more. For my other meals, it usually consisted of fruits that I bought at local shops and markets wherever we were sightseeing. Luckily they were easily found everywhere. I definitely had my fair share of jackfruit, watermelon and papaya. Coconuts are also in abundance in Malaysia, as there are probably more coconut trees than people!

Japan, oh Japan how I love you. Because it was just me and my friend/friends; and one of them being vegan, it was much much easier having my preferences catered to. There’s even a foldable map created of all the vegan and vegan friendly places around Kyoto! Contrary to the first two destinations, the fruits are quite pricey in comparison. Additionally the weather was also drastically different as well. As a result, I had to alter my diet slightly by including more cooked and warmer foods. I also really wanted to try some of the vegan friendly restaurants that Japan had to offer and boy am I glad I did. Here are a few of the delicious food that definitely hit the spot. Yes, everything you see below is vegan!

The places I visited in Japan are as follows:


OTHER TIPS AND SUGGESTIONS
:

Do your research!

  • Happy Cow is more than a great resource and tool. I have mentioned this site before. Basically it is site/app that makes finding vegan, vegetarian, vegan-friendly food easily searchable and accessible, for many places around the world. By researching ahead of time you may find a place that is veg-friendly in which you can invite your friends and family to go try it and everyone will be happy!
  • Depending on how familiar you are with the place you are heading to, do a little bit of research to know what you may be getting yourself into. Look up your location of your accommodation and see where the nearest grocery store or market is. Educate yourself on what that city or country is known for, is their ethnic and local cuisine vegan friendly? If so, write down/type down some of the dishes that are so you can look for them during your travels.

Always bring food with you!

  • I know it may sound like a lot of effort and a pain, but trust me, when you are travelling and still adjusting to the time change and the change in weather, you will be grateful you have something to boost your energy and tie you over, it may be a  lifesaver. So, always have at least SOMETHING, an energy bar, a handful of nuts, an apple, etc.

Overall, my trip was more than fantastic. In all honesty, I was slightly anxious thinking about the trip and the foods that I would find and consume, but that’s okay and I think it’s normal to feel a little unsure, it is all part of travelling to somewhere new. In the end, it worked out really well and I hope some of my experiences will help you on your next journey, whether you are travelling far or not. I just want to show that anything is possible; only if you put in the commitment, the determination and effort.

 

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