Raw Food Travel: Tips for Success
As a raw vegan, getting the whole raw food travel experience right is one of the hardest things to do.
If you can't make fresh smoothies and huge salads every day how do you cope? Frankly, I didn't, sooner or later; on every long trip over a three-year period I either turned to high-fat food or cooked vegan food.
Either way, it's always a compromise, and I usually ended up getting sick, making the slipup all the more regrettable. Finally, I'm pleased to say that I've got it right, and am about to undertake my first raw food travel experiment having put all these tips into practice.
Raw food travel tip 1: Choose your destination wisely
Travelling in Asia, or any tropical country, offers huge opportunities for the raw food traveller.
Endless coconuts and tropical delicacies such as durian, mango, pineapple, passion fruit, kiwi, mangosteen, litchi, rambutan, papaya, watermelon, jackfruit, sapodilla, custard apple and of course my favourite staple, banana, leaves you spoilt for choice.
Certain places in America, Australia, South Africa and more give you endless varieties of delicious fruit to choose from. However, you can't always choose your destination.
For instance, I'm attending the International Permaculture Conference in Jordan, which doesn't offer much in the way of tropical fruit. Which leads to my second tip, prepare!
Raw food travel tip 2: Prepare well in advance with emergency rations
One of my hardest-earned lessons was that I never get enough calories in when I travel. So I eventually crack and eat cooked food, mainly because I'm actually starving.
This time, I started preparing for my trip over three weeks ago. This involved making about five kg's of trail mix, which relies heavily on raisins for carbohydrates instead of fat from nuts, buying about 5 kg's of dates, one small bag of nuts, a couple of bags of dried fruit and some flax and buckwheat crackers.
While I don't usually eat crackers, you can't beat them for raw food travel; they're easy to store, light, last forever and are a quick and filling food to eat on the go.
For the plane, I've got a bag of mandarins and a box of dates, though I find I prefer juicy fruit to compensate for the dried-out feeling I get from flying, no matter how much water I drink.
Pre-packing most of your food is also more eco-friendly. You'll use less plastic (nearly everything is home-made and packaged nicely in re-usable containers) and will need to travel around less to find your specific food requirements.
However, your food should be light in weight, and ideally supplemented by as much fresh, local produce as you can get your hands on.
Raw food travel tip 3: Choose your accommodation wisely
Couchsurfing or staying in (eco-friendly) self-catering accommodation is the simplest way to ensure you stay committed to raw.
You'll be able to use the kitchen to prepare your own healthy meals, which again will result in less of a carbon footprint, reducing your reliance on restaurants.
Raw food travel tip 4: Do some research
Many destinations have raw or vegan restaurants, or even just raw-friendly restaurants. Check out HappyCow or get their app called VegOut to find out what's in your area. Certain ethnic restaurants like Thai, Japanese, Lebanese, Moroccan or Ethiopian have good veggie options and salads.
For instance, I know in Amman I can always get some good Arabic salads like fatouche and tabouleh. The best way of finding out information though is to befriend people who live there.
Couchsurfing again, is a great way of doing that - before I went to Jordan I harangued at least four people who mentioned anything to do with raw, vegan or vegetarian as to where to get fresh produce, organic food and healthy places to eat out.
There might be health shops where you can pick up snacks if you run out.
Raw food travel tip 5: Bring your favourite kitchen equipment
While I can't bring my Vitamix as it weighs a ton, I do have a small handheld blender I can bring to make smoothies and raw dressings. You can also get cool little manual citrus juicers (handheld), which I'm definitely planning to invest in for longer trips.
My existing juicer has a manual extension but due to weight I wouldn't consider bringing it unless it was a really long trip.
Raw food travel tip 6: Carry a re-usable bottle.
While carrying a reusable bottle doesn't necessarily keep you raw, being hydrated at all times keeps you healthy. You'll be able to fill it up with local water and save the environment too. Alternatively, bring a water filter.
Raw food travel tip 7: Commit to 90-95% raw ideals
Ultimately, your goal should be health and I've seen people who are 100% raw and still unhealthy. If you end up eating a high-fat raw diet (which is still 100% raw) on your travels, you're sacrificing your health for a percentage.
My advice after three years of yo-yoing is to stop being so strict! For this I thank Harley Johnston (aka Durianrider) who advises raw foodists to focus on getting as many of the best calories in as possible.
For Harley, a world-class athlete, eating some raisins or other dried fruit (which may or may not be sundried or dehydrated) or even processed juice, is a lot better than getting your calories from fats or other cooked food. I've taken his advice to heart and honestly, I am stronger being raw than ever before.
Planning ahead with a little research and preparation, some flexibility and of course, an enduring commitment to health, are all keys to your successful raw food travel experience.
Remember, if you're not enjoying the experience, you're doing something wrong.
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