At 25 years old, Evelina Utterdahl has already been to 73 countries across 6 continents. The full-time traveler and travel writer from Sweden started traveling when she was 15 years old. She continues to explore and spends most of her time on the road. She writes about her adventures on her site - Earth Wanderess. In this interview, she shares her thoughts about traveling as a vegan, veg-friendly places and food, and some tips for vegan travelers.
Q: Tell us about yourself and your blog the Earth Wanderess.
My name is Evelina, but most people call me Eve. I’m a 25 year old girl from Sweden who has travelled a LOT the last 4,5 years. I’ve even been to a total of 73 countries in 6 continents. I went on my first solo trip when I was 21 years old, and that’s when I got addicted to traveling for real. I started traveling at least once a month after that and my instagram quickly became full of travel pictures and eventually, strangers started following me and were interested in seeing my travels. After a year of traveling like that, I started my blog after requests from many friends and followers. I then started finding a name that I could use and that in my dreams I one day could use as a brand name or professional travel blog name. With my love for the earth, nature, wandering, and hiking, I eventually came up with the name Earth Wanderess.
The first few years my focus was just on sharing nice pictures from my travels, but as my following grew, job and collaboration offers started coming and with my passion for nature my focus in now going more towards a sustainable way of traveling, rather than just traveling itself. I have flows so much these last years and I cannot ignore the impact that has, and as someone who a lot of people look up to when it comes to traveling, I want to set an example of a way to travel that is better for the environment and more conscious in every way.
Q: What was the first trip you remember and how old were you then?
I was 21 and had bought a weekend trip to Girona, Spain to the boyfriend I had at the time for his birthday. We broke up before I could even surprise him with the trip. I decided to go by myself as the trip was non refundable. The first day and evening was awful. Having to get ready to go out to dinner at a restaurant all alone for the first time. But the next day I woke up feeling more free than I had ever felt before, knowing I could go wherever I wanted whenever I wanted. I could eat as much ice cream as I wanted with no one judging me. I could go have burger and beer for dinner at an Irish pub even though I was in Spain for only a couple of days.
The first thing I did when I got home was to book another trip alone to Edinburg, Scotland for just two or three weeks later.
Q: You have been traveling with your parents since you were young. How was it like the first time you traveled without them?
The first time I travelled without my parents was when I was 15. One person in each 9th grade in my city was chosen to go on a trip to Poland and Germany to go to Auschwitz and Birkenau to learn more about World War 2 and to then put together a presentation and show it to the school. It was just a couple of adults and then other people my age, some of them friends of mine so we had a great time even though it was heavy at times.
Later that summer when I was 16 I went on a language course trip to California, USA for a month. This again with one adult and other people my age, two of them being close friends. That was also very exciting, and I made a lot of memories that I still often think about with a smile.
I also flew to France alone a few times to visit a friend who lived there, and on a couple of trips with friends, so when I did go on my first trip alone I already felt comfortable with the procedure of going through security and fly alone etc.
It was more the fear of feeling lonely that was scary
Q: How long have you been a plant-based traveler? What was that defining moment that made you decide to embrace the lifestyle?
I have been vegan for about 2,5 years and it started by seeing a lot of videos on Facebook of cute pigs, and Bikini the pig on @wolfgang2242 that made me realise that pigs were just like dogs and even smarter. It became just as absurd to eat pig as it would be to eat dog. But within just a couple of weeks, I had stopped with red meat and chicken too. I then became vegan soon after that so it all came quickly and by itself. I never felt like I had to keep myself from eating it - I just didn’t want to anymore.
Q: For vegan travelers visiting Sweden, what would be that one meal that they shouldn’t miss?
For food, try Tzay or Oumpfh - they’re both soy-based meat options and they are SO GOOD
For something sweet, try the chocolate ball from Delicato - it’s been a favourite of mine all my life and just happens to be vegan. You can buy it in basically every in Sweden, from small kiosks and cafés to big supermarkets. And of course, for a real Swedish experience - some salty liquorice. Djungelvrål are some of my favourites but be prepared for a different experience.
Q: What is the biggest challenge for you as a vegan and full-time traveler? What are the best things about it?
Having to reassure people that I don’t need anything extra, that I am fine with simple things like rice, potatoes, and vegetables for example. That they don’t need to feel pressured to make me something special.
Q: Can you share one of the most memorable experiences you’ve had traveling as a plant-based eater? What made it stand out?
I stayed with a local family in Armenia, Colombia for a while and the son had recently turned vegan so we made a lot of the classic Colombian dishes in vegan versions with the help of his mother who was an amazing cook. I learned how to make vegan empanadas for example and they were de-licious!
Q: Can you name the most veg-friendly places you have been to?
Berlin, Vancouver, Sweden and Bali
Q: What was the least vegan-friendly place you have been to so far?
The Philippines, Brazil, and Timor-Leste
Q: Who’s the most interesting person you’ve been seated next to on the plane?
I actually almost always sleep when I’m on airplanes. It makes the time go by so fast. So I have almost never talked to people next to me.
Q: What are some of the must-try vegan meals you’ve had and where did you find them?
Best fast food - Comet 984 - 50’s Diner in Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Best pancakes - Peloton Supershop in Bali
Best chocolate cake - Veg Cafe on 72 Circular Road in Singapore
Q: You’ve been to over 60 countries across 6 continents. Where do you plan to go next?
Yes, I’ve been to 73 at the moment - crazy!
Right now I’m in Åre in northern Sweden, then I’m going straight to Dublin, then Riga and then to Barcelona.
Then I want to go to Iran for Norouz at the end of March, but I want to go there by land so I’m waiting on a reply from the Embassy about how to do with the visa, as it’s hard to know exact dated when I’ll need to travel with different buses for several days to get there. But hopefully, it will all work out so I can celebrate this big holiday with my friends in Iran.
Q: What advice do you have for vegan travelers?
To always have snacks in your bag. And to not be picky, you can’t expect people to understand or be able to fulfill your requirements of a decision that is in some ways a question of luxury. I’m not saying you should eat meat, but maybe in some cases, it’s better to just pick whatever it is you don’t eat off of your plate than to complain. And to not be too hard on yourself