Life as a low-waste, vegan traveller

Masha’s story is full of tips for anyone considering becoming a vegan nomad. Travelling the world is a great idea, especially if you’re guided by your, er, moral compass.


Masha and her husband wanted to travel the world. So they sold their home, donated almost all of their possessions, and followed their dream. 

Masha in Chiang Mai: “We have been traveling non-stop for the last three years and plan on continuing as long as our health allows us. We don’t take that for granted and are grateful for every day.”

Masha’s decision to become a vegan


Masha has been a vegetarian for most of her life but turned to a vegan lifestyle after learning about the dairy industry. As Masha tell us: “In some ways the dairy industry is even more evil than the meat production industry.”


“The reason that I became vegan is for the animals and my love of them. And now it is still for them, but it’s also for the planet's health and my health.”


“I can't imagine ever going back to not being a vegan.”

“In some ways the dairy industry is even more evil than the meat production industry.”

“I've heard from people who used to be vegan and started traveling and they say: ‘Now I’m a vegetarian, because it's impossible to be vegan.’ It isn't. It's just choices.”


“There's a banana almost everywhere. There's rice or pasta almost everywhere.”


“I might not get the kind of food that I'm craving or I want. But that's okay.”


Explaining veganism when there’s a language barrier


One of the most important things, Masha tells us, is to “learn what the word vegan is in that country’s language”.


Masha explains that there are tools available that help her to communicate her vegan requirements. 


“I have this thing on my Google Translate that says: ‘I am vegan. I cannot eat these things.’ And it translates it into different languages.”


“As long as my intention is to communicate and I'm not coming from a place of anger, people normally try to communicate back.”


“They might not understand my choices. They might not understand that it's possible to eat like that because: "What do you eat?"


“I think in a lot of countries, people from the West have wealth. And wealth to them is associated with being able to eat meat. They don't understand my choice to be vegan as it doesn't conform with their value system.” 


“Their system is that: ‘You're coming from the West, you must have more money than I have. Therefore, why would you choose these meals?’


“If they're curious, I'll explain if I can. Most of the time they're not curious at all and that's okay as long as they respect my choices.”


“As long as my intention is to communicate and I'm not coming from a place of anger, people normally try to communicate back.”
“Here is me in Wadi Rum. I love running and am an ultra-runner. Have competed in about 50 expedition adventure races all over the world and many multi-day, ultra-marathon runs.”

Carrying vegan essentials


Masha tells us that her and her partner only carry a backpack each. So what do they keep inside?


“I have sunflower seed protein powder.” Masha tells us. “And I also carry raw bars and nuts.”


“There are times where we've forgotten to list me as vegan on airplanes and then you're stuck on a plane. I carry a bit of everything just in case.”


“We carry snacks, protein powder, I carry teas with me. We carry water purification because we don't want to be buying plastic water bottles, so we purify our own water.”


A minimalistic traveller lifestyle


Masha realised, when they were donating their belongings before travelling, how much they owned. So now, to lower her environmental impact, Masha tries to only buy things she really needs.


“We weren't hoarders or anything ... But still. We were constantly accumulating things. And that definitely adds to your carbon footprint.”

“This is a picture of me in Vietnam. You will find a theme - I have the same clothing on in most pictures. That’s because we only own about three shirts, a few pairs of shorts and a pair of pants.”

Finding food in places that aren’t the most vegan-friendly


Masha explains that being vegan can be harder in certain places. This includes countries that have a meat-heavy diet, as well as more rural areas.


“In all the cities, you can find something vegan to eat. There’s always something.”


Masha’s has found that most places will accommodate veganism. “They'll say: okay we can take off this or take off that.”


“You have to explicitly state what you want. And you won't necessarily be able to go to a vegan restaurant.”

“Here is a picture of me and an Hungarian Komodore. My passion is rescue dogs and we support a lot of charities all over the world. The one that we are most passionate about is the Soi Dog Foundation in Phuket.”

Memories of vegan food around the world


“Wherever you go you find these vegan pockets,” says Masha. “There's these little hamlets all over the world.”


“And in all the cities, you can always find something vegan to eat.”


Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

“We were walking down this alley [in Ho Chi Minh] and all of a sudden there was this amazing place with like 50 different vegan foods. It was pay-what-you-can-afford. It was just unbelievable. The spirit of community in there was so cool.”

Chiang Mai, Vietnam

“It's nice when you go to a place like Chiang Mai and you've got so many options for amazing vegan food. But it's okay if I don't get that. As long as I get something I'm okay.”


Find out more about Masha’s experience of vegan food in Chiang Mai.


Thailand

Ayutthaya, Thailand

“I remember looking for a place to eat in Chiang Rai, Thailand. And we must have walked in the sun for two hours. And we stumbled across a 7Eleven. (They always have them in Thailand.) And we found something. There's always something to be found.”


Bulgaria

Sophia, Bulgaria

“There are quite a few vegan options that are all the way from high end. Like there's a Soul Kitchen and a great eatery called Loving Hut. It's amazing, you're paying basically nothing.”


Read Masha’s post about vegan restaurants in Sophia.


Montenegro

Budva, Montenegro

“There's one place that stands out in my mind, it was in Budva, Montenegro. Right on the water is this little tiny eatery called Paradise Foods. I don't know how this lady does it because she barely charges you anything.”


“We got stuffed for 5 dollars. And it’s all 100% vegan. She does everything from pizza to meatballs to really high-end desert. And it's all really cheap. She's this amazing amazing person.”


Advice for vegans who want to travelling


We ask Masha: “What would you say to vegans who want to travel?”


Don’t be scared to travel as a vegan.

“There's always an option,” says Masha. “As long as you're not super-picky about what you eat there's always an option. There's always pasta, there's always rice there's always vegetables there's always fruits, there's always grains.”


Plan in advance - don't wait until you're super hungry.

I think it’s really important to plan for where you're going to get your next meal. Because the worst is when you're super hungry and you’re trying to figure out where to find food. That's the most frustrating thing, especially for someone who is travelling with you who might not be vegan as they might be starving too. You know, there are options for them but they have to accommodate this vegan person.”


Always have snacks with you.

“Have nuts, have seeds, have bars, have fruit. So then, if you're caught in a situation where you don't have food, you can eat something and not be hungry.”

Want to follow Masha’s travels? Check out the Dancing Pandas blog. Masha also recommends Veggie Vagabonds: “Josh and Sarah are phenomenal.''


Before you click, please note: you might be tempted to pack up your life and travel the world. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

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