How would you describe yourself and your blog?
My blog, The Nomadic Vegan, is a source of information and inspiration for vegan and veg-curious travelers who want to see the world without compromising their values. As for me, I’m the world traveler behind The Nomadic Vegan! I am passionate about exploring other places, learning from other cultures, and spreading the vegan message. I lead by example to show people that they can be vegan anywhere and spread compassion everywhere.
How long have you been a vegan and what made you decide to become vegan?
I first became interested in plant-based eating for health reasons. But after I learned about the horrible suffering of animals in the meat, egg and dairy industries, it all clicked for me, and eliminating that unnecessary suffering soon became my main motivation.
I’ve been vegan since 10 September 2014, which is the day I arrived in Athens and started a three-week trip around Greece. Until then, I didn’t really think I could be vegan while traveling, but I decided to give vegan travel a trial-run during that trip. I never looked back!
How did you first get into blogging? What inspired you to start your blog?
Right away I knew that just changing my own diet wasn’t going to be enough for me; I wanted to contribute to the vegan movement somehow. At that point, I had already been traveling the world for 15 years, so sharing my experiences as a vegan traveler seemed like an obvious niche for me to fill.
One of the fears that had initially held me back from going fully vegan was the fear that it would ruin travel. Once I discovered that that wasn’t true, and that being vegan actually made travel even better, I knew I needed to dispel that myth and assure people who held the same misguided fears that I’d once held.
How do you manage your time traveling and running a popular blog?
It can be quite challenging! Especially when I’m traveling in places where Internet connections are poor, and I can’t update my blog and social media profiles as much as I would like. Until about a year ago, I was also working a full-time job on top of blogging and travel, and that was really difficult!
Now I have a home base in Lisbon, Portugal, where I stay for about six months out of the year and then travel for the other six months. When I’m in Lisbon, I try to buckle down and do as much writing and other work as I can.
When I’m on the road, I take lots of notes and shoot lots of photos and video, but I prefer to wait until I’m back at home to sort through it all and start the creative process. That’s not always possible, though, so I just do the best I can.
Tell me about your most memorable trip?
That’s a hard one! It was probably one of my earliest trips, when my husband and I traveled overland through the Middle East from Cairo to Istanbul back in 2003. We weren’t married yet, and in fact we’d only been dating for a few months. So, it’s memorable because it was our first big trip together, but also because of all the incredibly friendly people we met and the awe-inspiring historical sights we saw along the way.
Tragically, some of those sights have been badly damaged and can no longer be visited due to the turmoil in the region, particularly in Syria. I’m grateful that I had the chance to visit those places when they were still peaceful, but it breaks my heart to think about the Syrians I met and to wonder if they’re still alive and what their lives are like today.
What is the most fulfilling and most frustrating thing about vegan traveling?
The most fulfilling thing is seeing how the vegan movement is growing exponentially in so many parts of the world. The most frustrating thing is not having time to taste all the great vegan options available in many of the places I visit.
Can you tell us about some of the most memorable and interesting people you met on your journeys?
Mogale is a beautiful soul I met in Botswana. He grew up in a small village in the Okavango Delta, and after studying nutrition at university in South Africa he returned to his home village to become a tour guide. He’s had a deep love and respect for animals ever since he was a child, and he became a vegetarian at 10 years of age when he found out his grandmother was going to kill one of her goats for meat. He then became vegan as a teenager and has now been vegan for some 20 years. Going on a walking safari and viewing elephants, zebras and wildebeests with a guide who loves, respects and understands these animals was an unforgettable experience.
What is the biggest challenge for you as a vegan traveler? What is the biggest satisfaction you get from it?
To be honest, it hasn’t really been challenging like I thought it would be. Initially, I envisioned The Nomadic Vegan as a kind of survival guide, where I would show people how to keep from starving as they roamed the earth in desperate search of elusive vegan food. But I was so wrong! Like I said before, the hardest part is not having the time (or the room in my stomach) to taste all the vegan goodies I come across.
The biggest satisfaction comes from the comments and emails I get from people who tell me that my blog has helped them to find delicious vegan food while traveling, or that it has helped them find the courage to try traveling as a vegan.
What makes you passionate about vegan traveling?
Well, I’ve been passionate about traveling the world ever since I was a kid, and once I became vegan it was only natural that I would combine my two biggest passions into one. I want people to know that veganism doesn’t have to be a restriction and that you can go absolutely anywhere you want to as a vegan.
It says on your blog that you are a polyglot. How many languages do you speak?
I speak six languages reasonably well. They are: English (my mother tongue), French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Mandarin Chinese (although my Chinese is pretty rusty these days). I also studied Russian for a couple of years, but I’ve forgotten most of it. We’ll see how much I can remember when I travel across Russia by train in 2019!
In the over 100 countries you have been to, do you have any particular favorite?
I have many favorites! The country where I would most like to live one day is Italy. There are other countries that I loved traveling around but don’t necessarily want to live in, such as Peru, Pakistan and Egypt.
Can you name the most vegan-friendly places you have visited?
Berlin, Barcelona, Madrid, London and Cape Town are some of the most vegan-friendly cities I’ve visited, in terms of the number of veg restaurants and also mainstream restaurants offering veg options.
But then you also have places where the local cuisine is naturally very plant-based, even though there might not be a strong vegan movement there. Greece, southern Italy and Ethiopia are all good examples of these “accidentally vegan” kinds of destinations. I write about these and other vegan-friendly world cuisines in my book, Veggie Planet.
Can you tell us more about your experiences with other vegan travelers?
Well, I find that experiences tend to differ widely among vegan travelers. Pick any destination in the world, and you will find some vegan travelers who will tell you how amazing the vegan food was there, while others will tell you that it was horrible and they couldn’t find anything to eat.
I believe that this largely comes down to whether or not the traveler has a positive or negative attitude going into the trip. In many ways, we create our own reality based on our perceptions of what we see around us. If you expect abundance, that’s what you will find. But if you expect scarcity and lack, that’s what you will experience.
How much has vegan traveling changed since you first started traveling?
There are many more choices now! Of course, that still depends on your destination to some extent. I just spent three months traveling around southern Africa, and in most parts of the region people have still never heard the word “vegan” before. But in cities throughout Europe, North America and Australia, vegan restaurants are popping up all over the place.
And now we’re also seeing more services that are specifically targeted to vegan travelers. For example, VegVisits is a home-sharing community for veggie travelers, Kindred Spirits is a house sitting and house swapping community for vegans and vegetarians, and there are also several options for vegans who want to travel as part of an organized tour. I’ll actually be leading two group tours to Portugal and Italy in 2018.
And of course, now there’s Veg Travel Buddies for vegans who are looking for a travel partner!
What would be your advice to vegan travelers?
Don’t limit yourself to places that have a reputation for being vegan-friendly. You can be vegan anywhere. Just do some research ahead of time and go into the experience with an abundance mindset. For more detailed advice on how to prepare for a vegan trip, download my free ebook, 9 Steps for Easy Vegan Travel.