If you’ve ever looked up vegan travel blogs or guides to various cities as a vegan, you’ve probably come across Vegan Miam. I’m really excited for today’s interview with this insanely well-travelled blogger! Rika of Vegan Miam has been all over the world and is living proof that you can eat amazing vegan food anywhere. On her site, and in our interview below, you can practically taste the amazing vegan food through her photos. For more of her beautiful photos, recipes and stories of her travels you should definitely check out Vegan Miam and follow Rika on Instagram.
I am so glad I got a chance to interview Rika! Check out our interview below:
How long have you been vegan? How many places and where have you traveled since you’ve been vegan?
I’ve been vegan for about eight years and that was when I met my sweetheart Doni. Hamburg was the first international trip we took together as vegans (in 2008) and I remember these delicious vegan burritos and burgers we had in St. Pauli (district of Hamburg). We’ve been traveling together ever since and spent considerable time in Asia, Western Europe and Oceania. Whenever possible, we like to stay at least a month to get a better understanding of the local culture. You can view our past, current and upcoming travel schedule here or follow our current travel updates on Instagram here.
What’s your favorite place or places you’ve traveled as a vegan?
This is a pretty tough question. We always manage to enjoy wherever we are at that moment but Thailand is our favorite food destination. It’s affordable, tasty, culturally aware and open to vegetarian and vegan diets and the food is often made to order so even non-vegan restaurants are able to accommodate.
We also enjoyed the vegan Colombian cuisine in Bogota, where we got to try all sorts of delicious empanadas and a variety of plantains.
Munich is a wonderfully laid-back city, Valencia (Spain) had more grocery options than anywhere we’ve been, Paris always has the best bread and Philadelphia never disappoints with HipCityVeg and Vedge.
What was the best vegan meal you’ve had while traveling? How did you find the restaurant?
Pumpkin Curry with Brinjal Roti, made vegan upon request, from Flying Fish Fiji at the Sheraton Fiji Resort. We contacted the property prior to our stay to inquire about their ability to provide vegan dining options during our stay and we were impressed by their ability and desire to accommodate our needs and provide a variety of options. Combine the special efforts made to accommodate us with the delicious ingredients and the beachside sunset ambiance and we would be hard pressed to recreate this special meal.
We have also had some remarkably good and memorable meals on Air New Zealand, including vegan sausages, gnocchi and even a soya panna cotta!
What was the hardest place to be a vegan? How did you find food? What did you eat?
The hardest place was in fact still quite easy. Buenos Aires is the place that stands out to me, we visited some wonderful vegan restaurants in Buenos Aires but you will find that most of the vegan options are concentrated in a few neighborhoods and if you aren’t in those neighborhoods your options become very limited. Also, the grocery stores don’t have the same wealth of fresh produce options we found in Peru or Colombia. We used a combination of online resources (scouring blogs mostly) and just getting out and walking around to find everything we needed to still have an enjoyable stay, albeit with a bit more effort. We ate out occasionally but cooked a lot in our flat mostly. There are a lot of Italian ingredients in Buenos Aires so we made quite a few soups and pasta dishes actually.
One of our favorite home-cooked meals in Buenos Aires: Rica Bowl with Lentil Stew, Miso-Mustard Tofu + Patacones (Recipe here)
Where are you planning on going next and what vegan places will you be checking out?
We will be attending the Vegetarian Festival in Thailand this month along with brief stops in New Zealand and Jakarta. This will be our second time to attend the festival, which is a religious celebration that represents spiritual cleansing and is celebrated throughout Thailand. You will see roads and temples packed full of street-side vendors and the adjacent lots turned into vegan smorgasbords.
If you had to give some advice to a new vegan planning their first holiday as a vegan, where would you tell them to go (and what would you tell them to eat?)? Any advice you’d give them?
Always contact your hotel/resort in advance about dining options, most of them can accommodate you or even treat you well with a nice vegan breakfast like our stay at the Mandarin Oriental Manila.
If you are staying at an apartment or via Airbnb, make sure you have a list of common groceries (Just google grocery in different languages + name of city) and health food shops nearby to pick up some food, you might get hungry or want a drink after a long flight instead of looking at the map for vegan restaurants – who knows they are closed or not.
Happy Cow is a good resource to find vegan food, but I would not recommend relying on them too much since their maps and addresses aren’t always correct, it’s a good reference and starting point though. Always double check with few sources such as local vegan/vegetarian forums and directories and look for recent blog posts regarding your destination. For instance, we walked to three restaurants in Buenos Aires that were listed on Happy Cow and they were all closed, bummer. It’s always good to have a backup in mind and just pay attention to your surroundings, I can’t even count the number of times we have found a place serendipitously.
If you are traveling to a non-English speaking country make sure you have a list of ingredients in the correct language such as eggs, whey, dairy, lard, etc. Use a dictionary if you have to but google translate works a treat. If you are in Asia, of course, “bonito, fish sauce, shellfish, etc.” They are also useful if you are reading a product with ingredients on the back. Please note, not many countries understand the word, ‘vegan’ since it’s not widely known. You will need to explain that you’re a vegetarian and list what you cannot eat.
Thanks so much Rika! If you want to follow along on Rika’s travels too, you check out her travel schedule over on Vegan Miam here. Just be prepared to drool over the food photos and develop a case of itchy feet seeing all the amazing places she’s been/is going!
*All photos credited to Vegan Miam, with thanks for letting me use them for this post
This post is part of my Hungerlust series. Hungerlust. That insatiable craving for both food, and travel. Preferably combined. And vegan, naturally. My Vegan Month of Food (MoFo) theme this year is all about feeding it. We’ll be doing a journey around the world (airfare not included – sorry!) from the comfort of our sofas – or desks, wherever you happen to be sitting.