Vegan Traveler Interview: Charlie from Charlie on Travel

Charlie at temple overlooking chiang mai thailand
Photo by Charlie on Travel

Today I continue my vegan traveler interview series with Charlie.  The vegan traveler interview series is my weekly interview series, published every Thursday, in which I showcase the range of vegan travelers out there traversing the entire globe.  I remember when I first went vegan, I was pretty convinced that it would be near-impossible to travel as a vegan, but I was determined to do it anyway.  Fast forward 8 years, and we’re living in an age where there are actual vegan travel bloggers showing that not only is it possible to travel as a vegan, but a lot of fun!  (Like last week’s interview, Wendy from The Nomadic Vegan, who’s been to 97 countries and counting!)  I never would have believed this was possible 8 years ago, so this series is all about how far we’ve come, how many of us are out there doing it now, and how you can now find delicious vegan food just about anywhere in the world.

Today’s interview is with Charlie from Charlie on Travel.  Charlie blogs about sustainable and slow travel, house sitting, the benefits of eating local, and making responsible travel choices that benefit local communities, wildlife and the environment.  As a long-time vegetarian of over 12 years, Charlie decided to take part in Veganuary this month and go vegan to see how it would impact her travel lifestyle and experiences.  Let’s hear how Charlie’s found vegan travel so far this month, from Brighton to Bulgaria!

Charlie picking herbs at Thai Farm Cooking Class in Chiang Mai

Photo by Charlie on Travel

How long have you been vegan? How many places and where have you traveled since you’ve been vegan?

I’ve been vegan since January 1st 2016, a total of 28 days right now.

Since going vegan, we’ve been in Brighton – my boyfriend and travel companion, Luke’s hometown – and now we’re in Bulgaria.

Being vegan in Brighton was absolutely the easiest possible start we could have had to veganism. Brighton is one of the UK’s most alternative and vegan-friendly towns. We already knew about and frequently eat at loads of vegan places, such as Infinity Foods Kitchen, E-Kagen where you can get vegan sushi, and falafel places like FilFil Cafe and We Love Falafel. Being at home made a real difference as well because we had the freedom to cook our own vegan food and the support of our friend’s who mostly thought our challenge was a cool idea.

Vegan cooked breakfast for vegan travel challenge Veganuary Week 1

Photo by Charlie on Travel

We were quite apprehensive about travelling as vegans in Bulgaria, but it was important to us not to change our travel plans to fit in with our diet. We’ve never done that with vegetarianism and we didn’t want our vegan challenge to be any different. Bulgaria is a country where they say “meat is king and bread is queen” but so far we’ve been pleasantly surprised! There were some unexpected vegan gems in Sofia, the highlight of which was Sunmoon Bakery where we ate vegan versions of traditional Bulgarian foods like banitsa (long breakfast pastries with fillings).

Don’t get me wrong though, we’ve had highs and lows with our vegan challenge. Bulgarians a known for their feta cheese and local yoghurts and it’s been weird passing on those, and also being more restricted with what cafes and restaurants we walk into. As vegetarians we’re used to just going into any old local place knowing that we’ll be able to get something. Veganism isn’t that well understood here and we’ve had a food vendor perfectly understanding we didn’t want cheese but then squirting mayo all over our sandwich – it’s hard in that situation because you’ve got to appreciate that veganism just isn’t something many locals know about, but some do and that’s awesome.

Vegan banitsa in Bulargia

Vegan banitsa and cookie at Sunmoon Bakery Sofia Bulgaria

Photos by Charlie on Travel

 

What’s your favorite place or places you’ve traveled as a vegan?

We’ve been vegan for such a short time that it’s hard to just pick out of those two places, but because we eat vegan food a lot of the time when we travel (because vegan food is yum, and sometimes you just don’t want to eat dairy or eggs) I’d say that Chiang Mai in Thailand has to be a favourite for vegan travel!

Chiang Mai is such a vibrant place and there are absolutely loads of healthy, delicious, vegan food places. I’m a total fiend for green Thai curry – I could eat a green Thai curry packed with veggies any and every day of the week.

Not to mention all the great spicy Thai salads, fresh veggie spring rolls, five-grain purple rice which I’ve loved ever since I lived in Taiwan (also a great and lesser known vegan travel destination) for a year, and of course simple stir fries.

Fragrant Thai green curry Bangkok

Fresh vegan springrolls at Imm Aim vegetarian cafe Chaing Mai Thailand

Photos by Charlie on Travel

 

 

What was the best vegan meal you’ve had while traveling? How did you find the restaurant?

The best vegan meal I’ve ever had while travelling was at an organic, farm-to-table, vegetarian restaurant in the small town of LuoDong in Taiwan where we lived. They had a lot of vegan options but their Japanese curry was just so good! It’s a sweet, yellow curry with an apple base, that they served with veggies fresh from their farm, homemade tofu and homegrown five-grain purple rice, and a tiny bowl of hot broth.

I never found out the name of the restaurant because it’s written only in Chinese characters and it’s not a place known to travellers, but it’s located in LuoDong township at 54 Jingye Road opposite the Beicheng Elementary School.

Vegan-curry-luodong-taiwan-organic-farmers-restaurant

Photo by Charlie on Travel

 

What was the hardest place to be a vegan? How did you find food? What did you eat?

Looking back over our travels, it’s really apparent that being vegan in Central American countries like Panama, Nicaragua and Guatemala would have been ridiculously difficult – to the extent that it might’ve become really unhealthy.

In Nicaragua and Guatemala, rice and beans is their staple meal that is often eaten multiple times a day. It’s often served with meat but you can always get it with eggs or fried cheese instead, and corn tortillas in Guatemala. Without the eggs or cheese, it’d have been hard to ever feel full or get enough nutrition from the food I think.

Getting hold of fruit was always easy but salad much less so, and fresh veggies aren’t served up regularly in a lot of local sodas/eateries. We used to love house sitting in Central America because it meant we could go to farmer’s markets and cook up fresh produce, but on the road veganism would’ve been tough.

Charlie at Costa Rica farmers market

Photo by Charlie on Travel

 

Where are you planning on going next and what vegan places will you be checking out?

We don’t plan too far ahead but we’ve just left Bulgaria and will be in Macedonia for the rest of January (throughout Veganuary). We’ve just got to Skopje where we’ll be exploring the city and have made sure our Airbnb apartment has a kitchen so we can cook vegan food (as vegan options look thin on the ground here) and after this who knows! It’s likely that we’ll head to some local towns. It might be hard being vegan, but maybe we’ll be as pleasantly surprised as we were in Sofia!

Vegan mishmash at Sunmoon Bakery Sofia Bulgaria

 

Photo by Charlie on Travel

 

Thanks for joining us, Charlie!  Be sure to check out Charlie on Travel or follow Charlie on Facebook to stay up to date and follow her adventures in Macedonia!

 

 

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4 thoughts on “Vegan Traveler Interview: Charlie from Charlie on Travel

  1. Charlie

    Hey Caitlin! Thanks so much for having me on your blog, I was really excited to write about my first fully vegan travel experiences and was glad to have such an awesome place to share them :)

    Reply
  2. [email protected]

    Hi Charlie,
    You’ve almost reached the end of the challenge. Way to go! Do you see yourself staying vegan after January? By the way, I met a Bulgarian at a vegan dinner the other night and thought of you. I asked her about banitsa and she said the pastry itself is vegan, so I think you were probably fine with the ones you had. She also mentioned a type of vegan soup – the name sounded like “bop”. Did you come across it in Bulgaria?

    Reply
  3. Pingback: Breaking Through & Travelling Vegan in Macedonia (Vegan Travel Challenge Week #4) - Charlie on Travel

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