This weekend I will be travelling to Tunisia for two weeks, all inclusive, summer sun. I am a little anxious about coping as a vegan, but after last year’s experience in Turkey, I am reasonably comfortable with the idea that there must at least be salad to eat. Nevertheless, I have packed some mini soya milk cartons, some small tins of vegetable pate, and some instant miso soup sachets, just in case. I have also sourced ecologically sound insect repellent, vegan B vitamins to keep the mosquitoes at bay, and some large hats. I have not been able to source sun screen that meets my ethical requirements, but I have ordered a parasol (hand held) to keep the sun off if necessary. I know even taking this trip can be viewed as unethical, but as someone said to me recently, being vegan is about doing the best we can.
One of the joys of being in Turkey last year was the local produce. Great fat tomatoes, deep red and thickly fleshed; vast quantities of melon, drippingly juicy and sweet; great piles of salad, hummus and olives – it was all delicious. It was just difficult to find variety and eating the same food day after day does pall a little. What was also difficult was the inability to check the ingredients or to ensure that I was being told the truth. If I asked if something had milk in, I would be told yes, then no, then yes, then no again. If I was told yes, and I shook my head and said I wouldn’t have it, they then said it didn’t have milk in. But sometimes I craved something other than salad and bread. I am hoping in Tunisia that I will not have the same problem. But this is not a holiday rant. I am anticipating a pleasant trip. I love to travel, especially to new places. I love to experience new cultures, and I love to share these experiences with my family. I am a little more experienced now in travelling as a vegan, but I am still concerned that there will be some challenges ahead.
When I was in Amsterdam recently, the vegan issue was solved by going to eat in Asian restaurants, or by the fact that so many Argentinian restaurants and falafel bars are available. Most places would provide me with something edible, but it was mostly pasta and chips and salad. I am starting to wonder whether my lifestyle choice is something that precludes mainstream travel. Certainly it would be easier to be self-catering, but my wife is of the opinion that a holiday means not cooking or cleaning, and I am looking forward to the break. Having said that, last year I couldn’t wait to get back into the kitchen and make something. I do wonder if being a vegan would have been much harder had I not had this love of cooking. I know a lot about food, I understand flavouring, cooking processes, seasoning, working with raw vegetables, preserving, combining, and ensuring a good balance of nutrients. How much harder must it be for those who do not understand food in this way? It must be like those who do not understand the vegan diet.
As I pack my case, nestling the powdered soya milk between my sandals and swimsuits, I can only conclude that I must really be committed to veganism on a deep level. Not only does it cost me more, it challenges me at almost every turn. But I always did enjoy a challenge.