As a vegan backpacker in South East Asia, you have to keep a relaxed attitude. There have been times in remote areas where all there was for me to eat on the menu were stir fried veggies and rice for several days in a row, and other times where the language barrier made it impossible to communicate my dietary needs. I’d hate to see food go to waste, so when this happens, I tend to suck it up and eat around the offender. Fortunately, it hasn’t happened often. But I can’t stress enough that a relaxed attitude will take you a long way.
Needless to say, a lot of thought and research go into what and where I eat when I travel so as to avoid the hidden fish sauce and shrimp paste lurking in the food in a lot of Asian countries. And it’s completely worthwhile; I’m a big foodie and eating out and discovering new dishes is one of the things I enjoy the most about traveling. And with all the research come fantastic discoveries and experiments. But unfortunately, although the vegan food scene is alive and well in several South East Asian cities, price-wise it is often a few notches above your usual street food fare and this can make a big dent in a backpacker budget.
I came up with the crazy idea to buy a small blender I could travel with a few months ago and never looked back. It’s been fantastic both on my wallet and on my health. The best thing in South East Asia is the bounty of exotic fruits everywhere – you will see fruit shakes and smoothies for sale for pennies at every street corner. What you don’t see however is that these drinks are often laced with sweet condensed milk, a lot of sugar, and, usually, little fruit. Making my own smoothies means I can have complete control over what goes and doesn’t go into my morning (or lunch, or dinner) smoothie, and I can make it a million times healthier by adding extra fruit, my favorite greens and some superfoods like spirulina or moringa.
I have saved so much money doing this and made smoothies the way I like them – with tons of fruits and greens. And the best part is that I can also make delicious raw vegan savory cold soups for lunch and dinner whenever the fancy takes me. I leave you on my favorite gazpacho recipe of the moment. I hope you try it!
ZINGY MANGO GAZPACHO
(makes 2 large portions or 4 small ones)
1 english cucumber
10 italian tomatoes
1 red Bell pepper
1 small red onion
1 big bunch cilantro
1 or 2 garlic cloves, to taste
2 birds eye chilies, to taste
2 tablespoons soy sauce, to taste
In a blender, pulse together 1 mango, 7 tomatoes, half of the cucumber (peel if not organic), half of the bell pepper, half of the onion, half of the cilantro, the lime juice, garlic, chilies and soy sauce. Completely liquefy and set aside in the fridge to chill.
Meanwhile, chop the remaining ingredients in smallish, uneven chunks or however you’d like you soup’s texture to be.
Mix the liquid and the chopped up vegetables and fruit together and enjoy this refreshing zingy concoction! And don’t desperate – summer will soon come to you too!