I’ve done a lot of posts about how I stick to eating a plant based diet when I travel. I’ve eaten this way for a long time and I’ve never had a problem avoiding meat, dairy and eggs while exploring the world. Oil is a different story. It’s harder to avoid oil when you eat outside of your house / town / country. My solution? I enjoy the hell out of my trip instead of stressing out about eating some oil. Problem solved.
Traveling to Asia is no different than any other trip, it’s just a fuckofalot further away. Luanne, my wife and co-founder of Clean Food Dirty Girl, is from Malaysia (south of Thailand and north of Singapore). She was born and raised in the capital, Kuala Lumpur (KL), and moved to the United States in 2002. Her family is still in Malaysia, so for the past 10 years that we have been together, we have traveled to see her family at least once a year.
Once you make the LONG-ass flight to Southeast Asia, traveling around that part of the world is easy and cheap. We usually take other small trips once we are there, like to Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore. This time though, we stayed in Malaysia and spent our trip outside of Kuala Lumpur and in Penang (an amazing town about 4 hours from Kuala Lumpur).
I documented my food to show you that no matter where you go in the world, there are always plant based options. You might have to eat around an egg. You might have to eat with your hands. You might have to be okay with very simple food. You might have to eat white rice. You definitely have to throw the no oil thing out the window. And, above all else, you have to be open to eating food that you’ve never had, prepared in ways that are foreign to you.
And that’s the joy of travel. You get to soak up other cultures. You get to move outside of your comfort zone. You get to experience flavors, tastes, textures and smells that you would never experience in your normal daily routine. And, best of all, you get filled with a sense of wonder and magic that you can’t get from the comfort of your zip code. So my dear, book a ticket to anywhere and GO!
Here is a glimpse into our trip.
An early sunrise greeted us the morning of our flight. Little did we know that our island was about to get ROCKED by earthquakes, erupting volcanos and flowing molten lava. We literally left the morning Kilauea shook the Big Island with multiple earthquakes and the new flow started flowing. Our house is 30 miles from the action and remains safe.
At the airport, mentally preparing for our 24-hour journey to Asia.
Enjoying an apple at our gate.
I packed a variety of things for the plane. Steel Cut Oats, almond butter and blueberry sandwiches, tempeh sandwiches, dried fruit and nuts, and almond butter packets. I had to eat all my fruit before we boarded our plane out of Hawaii or it would be confiscated.
Almond butter and blueberries on sprouted bread.
My trusty plastic travel container makes another appearance. I’ve been using this container for over two years. I only use it for travel. I put my oats in cold since they won’t stay warm anyway. The key to bringing this through security is to make sure you don’t add to much soy milk (or whatever milk you use). If you add too much liquid, it could be confiscated.
We arrived in the Philippines and spent the night before our flight to Kuala Lumpur the next morning. The hotel we were staying at had a restaurant but they served burgers, french fries and pizza. Here’s a tip. If you’re traveling in Asia, eat Asian food. You might be tempted to try something that sounds safe and within your comfort zone but that is not what travel is about. Stick with local food, almost always (there are some exceptions, as you’ll see in a bit).
We left our hotel, found a nearby restaurant and promptly ordered garlic broccoli, noodles with veggies, fried rice and tofu. I always ask for no MSG.
We arrived at Luanne’s mom’s house after a very long journey and were greeted by the best Curry Puff I have ever eaten in my life. Luanne’s mom, Jenny, is an extraordinary cook and has adjusted some of her staple recipes to be plant based so that I can eat them.
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