Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Travelling while vegan

Leye- Every other Wednesday

I’ve now been on a vegan diet everyday of 2018, so far, and it’s been great. My smugness level keeps increasing, which is exciting. I’ve also noticed other effects of the diet. For one, my sense of smell has greatly improved. I can smell bacon and egg sandwich from a mile away. I can even tell if the customer has gone for the cheeky extra bacon. If you’ve had steak, I can tell several hours later. I can even tell how you had it cooked: rare, medium rare, or, you-do-not-deserve-this-meat. I can also walk into a restaurant and tell you what delicious cuts of beef they have on the menu. My sense of smell has greatly improved.

I’ve also lost some weight, not that I was overweight, to start with. Where someone sees a big stomach on me, I see fat reserves for a rainy day. My 36-inch trousers now gather under the belt, which is kind of annoying. And last year, before this vegan madness, I reluctantly accepted reality and bought my first XL shirt. It now feels like an XXL shirt and I’m upset because I haven’t worn my money’s worth out of it.

Another interesting result of my strictly vegan diet is a renewed efficiency of my digestive system. Which can be inconvenient as I’m one of those people who prefer to do at home, those things that cannot be delegated.

I’m also learning things about myself. For example, I am not vegan. Yes, I’m on a vegan diet, and yes I care for the wellbeing of animals, but I am not throwing away my non-vegan shoes and belts and bags. I recently bought a new leather sofa. It’s yet to be delivered, and when it is, I’ll have no qualms packing my derrière on it. It’s a lovely sofa. You should come visit when it arrives.

I’m also learning important lessons that do not apply to anyone who is not vegan. For example, travelling while vegan requires planning.

Twice this so far this year, I’ve experienced the harsh realities of traveling while vegan. The first time was a three-day trip to Spain for the 2018 Barcelona Negra, a lovely festival where I got to meet and take a picture with THE James Ellroy.

My lovely hotel in Barcelona had a vegan friendly menu. Ratatouille without the advertised poached egg. I ate the same meal each day till I discovered a place on Las Ramblas where they were happy to fix me a vegan paella. It tasted like heaven - till my hunger was sorted, then the rest of it tasted wrong.

The second time I’ve travelled while vegan is just last week. I was in France for Les Mots du Monde à Nantes. This time it was a four-day trip. It was lovely. I enjoyed every day of the festival under the artistic directorship of the amazing Alain Mabanckou, the best-dressed writer in the world as far as I’m concerned.

I enjoyed the city of Nantes. I even did the tourist thing, which I hardly ever do unless there’s promise of wine on the route. Anyway, this time the authors had food vouchers for each day of the festival. The restaurant serving the food also catered for people dumb enough to switch to a vegan diet. They had rice and vegetables. This, my friends, was the only thing I ate, lunch and dinner, for the entire time I was in Nantes.  I don’t do breakfast.

The lesson I have learnt from these sojourns, as a person on a vegan diet, is this: do not, whatever you do, let the other authors at the festival know that you are on a vegan diet. Don’t. Trust me. They will find the most creative ways to taunt you over your insane choice of diet. They will let it slip into the questions they ask while you’re on a panel. They will make jokes with the waiters – in French, so you’re not even sure what they’ve said. (I should brush up on my primary school French). And they will never stop offering you a slice of their juicy, smells-so-delicious, full of umami, medium rare sirloin steak. What a mean bunch.


  1. I am an omnivore, Leye, like all my forebears going back to the discovery of fire. But I promise, my dear friend, never to belittle your dietary choices. When I visit your sofa, I will bring a good bottle of wine and no vegetables and rice.

  2. Well done you. I go everywhere with a wee sachet of marmalade and some oatcakes.
    But, seriously I do wonder why omnivores taunt veggies. The two sentences I hear most about my life are 'I don't know where you get your energy from!' and 'Oh, you don't get enough XYZ on a vegan diet, you'll be ill.'
    Nope, I just don't use my energy up digesting dead animals!
    Ok, off soap box now. As you were...

  3. My theory on diets is whatever works. And from the photos you’re looking great. Personally, I’m more vegan chic, as in veggies and chicken....

  4. First, that photo at the top of the post is somehow... unsettling. Like it belongs in an ALIENS film.

    Second, you said, "I can even tell how you had it cooked: rear, medium rear, or, you-do-not-deserve-this-meat." Are you talking about food or sex?

    Third, I hope that the gathering of your pants beneath your belt is not causing you to miss a loop. I know how unsettling for you THAT would be.

  5. Well done, Leye. I know how hard it is to travel on a vegetarian diet, and sometimes I just have to give up and say, Okay, this is a cultural thing (e.g., lamb in NZ). I applaud you for taking an even more challenging route.

  6. I'm a flexitarian. But I can honestly say I have never taunted a vegan for their diet choice.

    But I live in California, and there are MANY vegans and vegetarians here. All kinds of cuisines and allllll kinds of diets. You're more likely to get lectured for eating too much sugar in California. 🤣