Back when I was doing a lot of international traveling, I was still eating meat and dairy. I never gave a thought to what I would eat! Well, except when using my rudimentary foreign language skills to order. Boy, I had a good time and I ate a lot. Thick slices of sharp cheeses at breakfast in Turkey, hearty meat stews in Hungary, gelato in Italy, creamy sweets of every kind in Austria, savory, buttery pasties in England, sausages and spaetzle in Germany. Looking back, I can’t help but feel that I would go quite hungry now. But maybe I just ignored the plant-based offerings since animal products were still the focus of my diet. So I was really curious to find out how difficult (or not) it was for Lindsay Nixon – aka The Happy Herbivore – to eat animal-free while abroad.
Lindsay was nice enough to answer a few of my questions about that very topic and her answers are below. At the end of this post, you’ll be treated to a couple of photos from recipes I made from the book and you’ll also have an opportunity to enter a giveaway for a chance to win a copy of her newest cookbook, Happy Herbivore Abroad. My giveaway starts today and ends on December 20, but Lindsay is giving away one cookbook a day until December 31 so you can blog hop and enter to win at the other participating blogs. (Sorry, the giveaway is open to U.S. and Canadian entrants, only.) A big thanks to Lindsay Nixon and BenBella Books for including me in the Happy Herbivore Abroad month of giveaways.
I’m wondering how challenging it has been for you to eat vegan while traveling abroad. Some places are more veg-centric than others. Is there a foreign city/country that stands out as being particularly easy in which to get a good plant-based meal?
I don’t find traveling internationally any more challenging than traveling within the U.S. It takes a bit of patience, and creativity at times, but nothing that I don’t experience in my own city or when traveling for work. Like in the U.S., bigger cities tend to be more accommodating than smaller towns and villages.
From my travel experience, I’ve gathered that every culture feels that they put more importance on food than any other culture – food made with love, shared with family and friends, handing cherished recipes down, etc. Do you think it’s different here in America because of our fast food obsession? Is it more about eating to live rather than living to eat?
I lived abroad for a year (in addition to all my travel) and the first cultural difference I realized is that Europeans do one thing at a time. When they drive they drive. When they eat they eat. They aren’t desktop or dashboard dinners. When they’re eating a sandwich, they’re eating a sandwich. They stop to eat and enjoy that sandwich. I’ve tried to weave that into my life.
I think we have a go-go-go-more-more-more mentality in America that forces us to multitask. That’s also a recent development. When I was growing up (not too long ago) most families I knew came together for dinner, and meals were cooked with love — from recipes handed down.
When I travel domestically I still find that I need to plan ahead and bring a great proportion of my meals with me. Sometimes it’s very frustrating to feel like the “problem child” at the table. Do you think that the plant-based way of eating – maybe because of increased awareness about how food affects health – will become more mainstream or will it retain its sort of fad or cult image?
I dare say it’s already mainstream.
It’s clear from your cookbooks that preparing and eating plant-based foods can be easy, quick and delicious, but for most omnivores the idea of cooking without meat seems daunting. There’s the idea that vegan cooking requires all kinds of strange ingredients and takes gobs of time. How do you persuade meat-eaters that vegan cooking can be as simple or as complicated as one wants to make it?
I show them my cookbooks
And maybe this is the toughest question of the bunch: do you have a favorite comfort food that you go to again and again?
I love mashed potatoes.
And now for a sampling of the food:
One year ago today: Pumpkin-Carrot Spice Cake