Vegan-ing out in Tokyo

By which I mean eating out. I needed at least two weeks to get round the vegan restaurants in Tokyo and I didn’t have that, so this is just a smattering. Ohhh the glory of vegan food in Tokyo. One note: the servings all over Japan are quite small, for this reason I haven’t given any of them particularly good ‘value’ ratings except ‘T’s’, which is significantly cheaper. Most came in around 1000jpy-1400jpy for a main, and 500-700jpy for a dessert.

Cori Vegan Foodstand


cori2This is one of my favourite places that ate at in Tokyo, in fact so good that I decided to go there for my birthday. Luckily it was open then, but not the next time I went there. However, as you’ll find out later, going somewhere and finding out they’re closed has become a theme of my Japan trip. The spicy veggie plate was my favourite thing (but not spicy). You can also buy organic berry wine here, which is delicious and has large berries floating in it. It’s in a place called Commune 246 which is a really cool area to just hang out, and especially if you’re travelling or eating on your own it’s also a good place to meet people. You’re looking at 1000yen for a smallish plate of food, although smallish plate should be assumed for all the meals in Japan, they’re not big servers.

Do or don’t visit?: Do

Taste – 4/5

Value – 4/5

Atmosphere – 5/5

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Hanada Rosso


I power-walked here and made it 5 minutes before last orders, and it was worth it. It’s on the pricier end but it makes up for it with flavour, and then some. This is one of the best burger patties I’ve had so far, it was rich, moist and tomato-y. It also wasn’t a fast food burger, which I keep encountering in Kyoto, much to my surprise. The cheesecake was good, but a little too baked for my liking. Pure’s cheesecake definitely has the edge, and it’s maybe only a 10 or 15 walk from Hanada Rosso. The interior was nice but there was nothing that made it special, and it was a little too cafeteria for me.

Do or don’t visit?: Do

Taste – burger 5/5, cake 3/5

Value – 3.5/5

Atmosphere – 4/5

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Pure Cafe


This is attached to the Aveda store which, as you might guess, means that it’s expensive. It packs out around lunchtime and you might have to wait for a table, but it’s worth it. I had the special, which was a soy meat dish, and it was okay but not exceptional. It came as a set and the soup was pretty good, too, but oniony so if that’s not your thing it’s best to check before ordering. I heard their tempeh is excellent, and I’d have liked to try a few other things on the menu, too. The cheesecake is definitely where they shine: it was delicious, and has a texture very similar to what I remember real cheesecake being like.

Do or don’t visit?: Do

Taste – main 3/5, cake 5/5

Value – 4/5

Atmosphere – 4/5

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T’s Tantan


I may get shot for this by the T’s Tantan groupies but… I was not a T’s Tantan fan. Maybe it’s after a year in Taiwan, but the noodle soup I ordered just didn’t have any wow factor for me. It’s in Tokyo station, though, which makes it very convenient until they randomly close and tell me I can’t come in (I was trying to give it a second chance, fate was against me). It’s good for a cheap, fast meal that’s pretty tasty, but it’s not something I’d go out of my way to eat. It’s a bit difficult to find: follow the signs for the Keiyo line and eventually you’ll see it on your right.

Do or don’t visit?: If you’re going through station, do

Taste – 3/5

Value – 5/5

Atmosphere – 3/5

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Hungry in Tokyo at 10pm? This is the place head to, last order is 11.30pm and they close at midnight. It’s a Japanese vegan version of a tapas bar, so you order several small plates. The staff were very friendly, and they also offer alcohol. I tried the gyoza, the vegetable rolls, and some fried soy meat things which were excellent. They were all good but quite simple, I especially felt the gyoza I’ve eaten before for less money. I’d order the rolls and the soy meat again, though. The place was cool, but would have felt cooler with more people: it was dead when I went. Maybe I’m just hard to please, or maybe I should have tried more, but for what it is I felt the price tag was a bit hefty. For a meal for two expect to pay around 5000jpy before you start adding drinks.

Do or don’t visit?: Do, but it wouldn’t be my first choice

Taste: 4/5

Value: 3/5

Atmosphere: 3.5/5

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Nagi Shokudo


I have to admit I really like having to take my shoes off and getting to sit on a raised platform to eat, either cross-legged or with the spaces under the tables. It makes me far more inclined to hang around and get comfortable. This is one of the best places I ate. For the lunch/dinner set pick 3 things off the menu and they add rice and soup. Every small serving was delicious and full of flavour, I particularly liked the okra which was prepared in a way I hadn’t tasted before. I didn’t try their cake, which was a mistake as I now wish I had, as I’ve since been cake eating my way around Japan.

Do or don’t visit?: Do

Taste: 4/5

Value: 4/5

Atmosphere: 4/5

Happy Cow

From Earth Cafe OHANA

earthcafe5 earthcafe3 earthcafe2 earthcafe

Everything here is in Japanese, but you can get by as it’s all vegan. I tried the burger, and my couchsurfing host had a black bean fried thingy – I think it was the special. It was considerably better than the burger, there wasn’t even a comparison to be made. My burger was dry and bland, and I had to ask for ketchup, but the black bean thingy was full of flavour. I tried the cake afterwards which was good, and came with Matcha ice cream. It also came with these odd rice crispy things which periodically appear in Japanese food, and I remain confused about why they were there. The place is also a health food shop, and it’s exceptionally cute.

Do or don’t visit?: Do

Taste: 2/5 for the burger, 4.5/5 for the black bean thingy.

Value: 4/5

Atmosphere: 5/5

Happy Cow

Sky High

The cold-pressed juice and green smoothie trend has, no surprise, hit Tokyo and this is one of several juice bars. It’s all vegan, and also offers sandwiches for about 1000jpy. One of my couchsurfing hosts went here and sent me a message, after which I joined him. His message went something along the lines of ‘vegan eating is expensive! I just spent 1800jpy on a juice and a sandwich with some bits of carrots in it.’ The juice was delicious, between 800-1000jpy depending on which you choose (you can also get a large one, which is better value) but I think the sandwiches probably are overpriced and you’d be better off getting a juice then going elsewhere for food. Bear in mind that fruit and veg in Japan is extortionately expensive, so if the juices seem expensive, it would cost you much more to make your own. It’s tiny but friendly and within minutes we were talking to everyone else in the shop.

Do or don’t visit?: For a juice, do

Taste: 5/5

Value: 4/5

Atmosphere: 4/5

Happy Cow


When T’s Tan Tan failed me, I set out on a marathon mission to find somewhere else open, fast. A marathon because I was carrying all my possessions on my back (I was heading to Hiroshima) and  they were heavy, and I was hungry. And it was very, very hot. I got lost on the way, and ended up wandering for twenty minutes more than was necessary. Finally I made it and sat down in a sweaty heap. I ordered the salad set, and was served a very pretty but quite small salad with some warm seedy bread and the standard green smoothie which goes with it. As usual, no English was spoken and the staff looked a little horrified at my large back and dishevelled appearance. It was a decent price and the dressing was delicious, but I wouldn’t say the trip was worth it when there are so many other amazing places to try.

Do or don’t visit?: don’t

Taste: 3/5

Value: 4/5

Atmosphere: 3/5

Happy Cow



If you’re a life starts with coffee person like me, you’ll be relieved to hear that there’s a small chain of coffee shops called Streamers Coffee in the Shibuya/Harajuku area. They do the best soy latte I’ve had so far in Asia, and it’s expensive but worth it. They also do something that seems to be unheard of in Kyoto for coffee shops: they open in the morning, when coffee is needed (8am on weekdays). The Shibuya shop has free wifi for tourists that says it has a 90 minute limit, but they don’t enforce it.

Places I tried to go:

Vespera’s falafel. They were consistently closed. I finally got my falafel fix in Kyoto, but sadly at a veg friendly place not a vegan one.

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Have you been to other places in Tokyo? Or were you blown away where I wasn’t? Let me know in the comments.

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Lamma Island Hong Kong – a vegan paradise

A whirlwind tour of the vegan possibilities on Lamma Island, and a little of Lantau Island, too.  It was a pure coincidence that we decided to go to Lamma Island. Actually we were supposed to go to Macau that day – turns out if you’re trying to get a ferry ticket to and from Macau on a National Holiday, you really do need to book in advance. So we were left, at 10am on a Monday morning, with no plans for that day. What to do? Of course we went to Mana Slow Fast Food and ate (everywhere is closed at 10am on a Monday!), but after that we really did need some plans. It was a beautiful sunny day, and the beach seemed like the best idea. Back to the ferry, and on to Lamma Island for some exploring. Don’t be put off by the number of seafood places when you arrive, you’ll soon be onto a lovely walking trail that will take you round the island. The beach was a disappointment – it was small, a bit dirty and very crowded – so we headed off to find some find some vegan food. As we neared the little village Yung Shue Wan, we noticed that the shops were becoming decidedly more Western in look, or hipster, or arty, or whichever phrasing gives you an accurate enough impression. Lantau Island, in comparison, is much more what I would expect a small island in Asia to be like, even though it’s far more touristy. Local shops, local food, not much English. At least the parts we went to.

A disappointing beach

A disappointing beach

Bookworm Cafe We were advised to visit Bookworm Cafe. This was, personally, my biggest disappointment from the whole trip. Not only that, but they’re really not vegan suitable, despite being advertised as vegan friendly. Of all the cafes that had veggie/vegan options, bookworm looked the best and had the most recommendations. It was totally packed and there was a queue to wait (we were there over the holiday weekend). We talked to the woman a little while waiting there and she was very nice but stressed and busy, as might be expected. She was interested in the vegan Happy Cow HK ice cream which would have been perfect there, I hope they followed up and made the call. Post on ice cream to follow. When we were seated and saw the burger bread on someone else’s plate, it looked like it had an egg glaze. No one could tell us. There were several different stories about whether the egg had bread. The burger on the menu, which used that bun, was labelled vegan. Then we found out the bread does have egg, and ordered it on a different bread. It came out on the burger bun with egg. We got it sent back and finally it appeared on toast, by which time the fries were cold, and they were freezer fries and soft and limp. Not very appetising, and I couldn’t finish them. And I love  anything potato. The burgers (tofu and bean, we tried both) were okay but nothing special, and after the mix up about the egg neither of us were sure we trusted the cafe knows what a vegan diet does and doesn’t include.


Bookworm cafe, and a glimpse of the queue.


We paid a small fortune… for this. Left half is bean, right half is tofu. Tiny patties.

The staff were far from apologetic, rather they seemed annoyed and the initial friendliness disappeared fast. The whole experience left me pining for the Western service industry, where if this had happened they would have at least omitted the service charge from the bill. I felt very unwilling to pay what the bill came to.The one redeeming feature was the soy latte, which was really good. We heard other people complain about the vegan cake, so we didn’t try that. The mix up would have been more forgivable in an omni restaurant, but not one which labelled its food as vegan. Please take note: if you’re going to say you serve vegan food, you need to know what’s in it, know that it’s vegan, and make sure at least one member of staff knows! Very disappointed and concerned other vegans may visit and not know. What we absolutely loved though was… The health food shop next door Also known as ‘their sign is too bright to see in the pictures and I can’t remember the name’. But it’s right next door to Bookworm Cafe. This is like a blend of a UK health food shop and an American one. There were so many vegan options I haven’t seen since I moved to Asia, or simply haven’t seen at all like Tofurky. There were just so many things I don’t even know where to start, but needless to say we skipped around the shop like children in a candy store, squealing at each other in excitement. P1030048 P1030050 P1030052 P1030053 P1030056 Doesn’t all of that look amazing? And back on the mainland of Hong Kong, here’s what you can find in City Super: P1030083 P1030082 Just look at all of that Silk and Field Roast glory! Actually I’ve never seen Field Roast before, I’m just told it’s good. If we were staying there longer I would have tried some. Lantau Island Just a little note to say that, because it’s the island with the big Buddha, most of the places surrounding it are veg friendly. Be careful of the food, though, because again like in Bookworm, the people serving it will give you a different answer to ‘does this contain milk and egg?’ depending on who you ask and how they’re feeling. And we were asking in Cantonese, so it wasn’t a language barrier thing. It’s just safer not to trust them: if it looks like it might have egg, don’t eat it. Lantau island is really pretty, though, and has cows freely roaming around that are wild, so it’s worth a visit. P1030162 P1030150 P1030129 Left to right, top to bottom: misc. buffet food, a big buddha, and Josette making new friends. Lantau island is possible to see in about 5 or 6 hours, unless you want to do a hike, so we caught a bus and went there the morning of our flight. The bus was also cheaper, albeit less pretty, than the gondolas. Our flight was late evening and we were left with several hours skulking round an overpriced outlet mall. To get to Lamma island, take a ferry from the Central Harbour area. It’s quick, easy, and reasonably cheap. Then please buy a load of vegan stuff from the shop there, and post it to me. Taiwan vs. Hong Kong, Vegan-off I’m pretty impressed with both places for being vegan in. Hong Kong wins for Western Vegan food and produce, Taiwan for local vegan food and availability. Hong Kong wins for main meals if you want to eat out, Taiwan definitely wins for desserts (have you seen my Instagram yet?) Cost wise, Hong Kong is EXPENSIVE to eat like a Western Vegan. If I lived there, my savings would be gone within the month. Final conclusion though, is that it’s like almost everywhere I’ve been. You’ll hear that it’s bad for vegans, and then you go, and you look, and you ask around, and you find delicious food. Go travel, now.

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Vegan adventures in Hong Kong – Hong Kong Island & Kowloon

“What are you going do in Hong Kong?”


And eat we did. Goodness food is expensive in Hong Kong compared to Taiwan! There are so many vegan options though, we barely made a dent in the restaurants we wanted to visit. Here’s my rundown of the dos and don’ts for vegans in Hong Kong – these were all in the space of two days, so we didn’t get to try as much as we’d have liked. Our stomachs simply didn’t stretch that big.

Mana – Slow Fast Food (Vegetarian)


Raw coconut cake

Chocolate Cake Mana

Raw chocolate cake

mana wrap

Gluten free wrap


with lots of avocado

This is the only place we visited twice (partly because they’re one of the only places open before 12pm on a Monday). They have a fast slow food concept, so you can eat out or dine in. I loved the flatbreads, really generous with the fillings and lots of flavor. The place itself has a really nice atmosphere and a great playlist, and the staff were friendly, helpful and polite. Almost everything is vegan, except for some fillings. The desserts were slightly disappointing – very small slices and the coconut cake tasted like cashews not coconut, I would have preferred it more coconut creamy. It would be nice to have a price difference for the fillings too – for example, the cucumber was the same price as avocado.

Food waste gets turned into compost, and they use paper only packaging and make an effort to recycle. What confused me was that there is only the option of disposable packaging. I would have rather seen less packaging and more re-useable containers. Other than that I loved Mana and will definitely go back if I’m in Hong Kong again.

MTR: Central

Do or don’t visit?: Do

Taste – 4/5

Value – 4/5

Atmosphere – 5/5

Facebook; Happy Cow

Life Organic Health Cafe (Vegetarian)

The disappointing tofu cake

The disappointing tofu cake, with thighs to show scale

Before we arrived in Hong Kong Life Cafe was highly recommended to me, so when we found it we were both kind of disappointed. The food was a little uninspiring (salads, samosas, falafels, and desserts) and I would have asked about the menu which looked more interesting, but the staff were unfriendly and unapproachable. When we ordered a piece of cake, I thought that they were trying to tell us to go away because they were closed. Turns out she just wasn’t the eye-contact and smiling type.

The only thing I tried was the vegan tofu chocolate cake, but it was bland, expensive and just tasted of tofu – it didn’t encourage me to try more, but maybe I’d go back and try a lunch and the coffee. Maybe. The other customers were friendly and smiley at least.

My other quibble is that their packaging was all disposable and just went in the same trash can – there was no option of sorting for recycling. This disappointed me for somewhere that otherwise claims to be environmentally conscious.

MTR: Central

Do or don’t visit?: Don’t for the desserts, if you try the mains let me know.

Taste – 2/5 for the cake

Value – 3/5

Atmosphere – 3/5

WebsiteHappy Cow

Mana Raw – Wild Juicery


Celery root ‘vushi’


Inside Mana Raw


Collard Wraps

This is a raw branch of Mana just across the street and down a little way from Mana Slow Fast Food. I was (and still am, I think it’s summer coming!) really craving raw food so I talked Josette, my vegan travel companion, into going for lunch. It’s my usual complaint about raw vegan places – small serving sizes. I had the celery root vushi and it was delicious, but there were only 6 pieces. Josette had the collard green wraps, which were a little less creative. I felt like they were something I could have whipped up at home without much thought, which isn’t especially what I go to raw vegan places for – I go for the innovation and creativity they usually bring to their creations. I didn’t get to try the juices or desserts, which was a shame. Overall I would like to see more creativity in their menu.

The staff were really friendly and helpful and we talked for a while. Something curious about all the more ‘trendy’ dining places of Hong Kong is that the menus are only in English, unlike in Taipei where they’re all bilingual. I asked why, and they said that all their customers are Westerners – but the staff are local or Filipino. They told me that there’s a large number of vegans and healthy eaters in Hong Kong. This is very different from Taipei, where there aren’t enough expats alone to keep somewhere like this in business and there are far more locals who eat at the vegan restaurants. Something about this situation in Hong Kong didn’t feel quite right to me after living in Taipei for the past 9 months.

MTR: Central

Do or don’t visit?: Only if you’re craving raw food, but I think there are better raw places we didn’t make it to on this trip.

Taste – 3.5/5

Value – 3/5

Atmosphere – 5/5

Facebook; Happy Cow

Loving Hut – Wan Chai

BBQ Char Sui steamed buns for breakfast

BBQ Char Sui steamed buns for breakfast

BBQ Char Sui meal set

BBQ Char Sui meal set (with a vegan egg)

Caramel latte, all prettily decorated

Caramel latte, all prettily decorated

'Egg and Cheese' sandwich.

‘Egg and Cheese’ sandwich.

Laksa Soup

Laksa Soup

Happy Cow HK Ice Cream, I dream of this stuff

Happy Cow HK Ice Cream, I dream of this stuff

I told a lie, we went here twice too, once for lunch when we first got to HK and once for breakfast the next day. If I lived nearby I’d go there for breakfast every day (except they only open at 11). If you go, you have to try the Char Sui BBQ Soya Slices. The egg tarts were a little flavourless and I’d have liked more vanilla to give more of a custardy taste, or some lemon to make them more interesting. The coffee was excellent and had a pretty pattern on it, and they do a surprisingly realistic sunny side up egg. The staff were friendly and there was even a live music act when we were first there.

They also stock Happy Cow HK ice cream, which is made from coconut cream and sugar and is amazing. There will be a full blog post about ice cream to follow.

MTR:  MTR Wan Chai Station, Exit A3

Do or don’t visit?: Do

Taste – 4/5

Value – 5/5

Atmosphere – 4.5/5

Website; Happy Cow

Branto Pure Indian Vegetarian


Masala Dosa


Idly Vada

Slightly awkward to find as it’s hidden away in an apartment building, we went here for a snack on our way to the light show – we had approximately twenty minutes. I wish we’d had time for a full meal here as it was certainly far less of a disappointment than the light show was. Actually, it wasn’t a disappointment at all. We only had two of the appetisers, a masala dosa that was the hands down winner, and an Idly Vada that was also pretty good. I would have happily stayed and eaten everything vegan they had to offer. It’s somewhere I’ll be going back to. The service was fast and efficient, and the place filled up at dinner time with all the local Indian population, which is always a good sign.

MTR: Tsim Sha Tsui

Do or don’t visit?: Do. Skip the light show and eat here till your stomach puffs out poppadom style.

Taste – 5/5

Value – 5/5

Atmosphere – 4.5/5

Website; Happy Cow

Gaia Veggie Shop


Taro ‘fish’, a traditional veggie dish


Fried noodles, with vinegar and sugar to add


What I call Beef Wellington, because that’s what it tasted like

Hidden away in a large Mirimar (a mall for anyone who doesn’t know), we visited here for dinner later on the same night as the Indian. Their menu is huge, and what’s vegetarian not vegan is clearly marked with an egg symbol next to the dish. I tried the taro fish, the fried noodles with sugar and vinegar, and what was a sort of veganized beef wellington. All strange sounding, but delicious! The prices were very reasonable (not cheap but not too bad) and it came to around 100HKD each for a filling meal. The provided tea, pickles, and a complimentary mung bean dessert. I could happily have gone back and tried different things, too.

MTR: Tsim Sha Tsui

Do or don’t visit?: Do. It’s something more traditional to try while in HK.

Taste – 5/5

Value – 4/5

Atmosphere – 4/5

Happy Cow


We also tried a local place around Sam Shui Po that will appear in the Hong Kong videos on my YouTube channel (search Plant-powered Nomad), a local breakfast place and a dessert place. I don’t have the names or addresses of them, but there was some good food! A handy reminder that asking locals and leaving the comfort of Happy Cow is always good, too.


Complimentary Cantonese curried wheat gluten (seitan)


Black fungus soup


Tradtional breakfast of rice tubes in peanut sauce.


Sweet potato and ginger dessert


Vegan chicken satay. It was delicious.


Mango sago

We also tried the Lok Chai Tea House but it was 60HKD each for tea! The Dim Sum looked good but was 40HKD for each small plate, so we put the menu down and scurried out to spend our pennies elsewhere.

As a final note, the supermarkets in HK are awesome for vegans and you can get a lot of the Western vegan food like Tofurkey and Field Roast that isn’t available in most of Asia. Again, check out my YouTube in a few days for a video tour. There are so many more places we didn’t get to that I want to try next time I’m in Hong Kong, as usual if you’ve been anywhere you love, let me know.

Happy eating!

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My packing list – how to travel light

You can always tell a first time backpacker by the size of their bag. Overpacking is a problem, and it doesn’t have to be. Here are my tips for how to travel light enough that your backpack will pass as carry on luggage with most major airlines. This list is designed for city travel with some countryside, not hardcore trekking. So no tent, hiking boots, or sleeping bag.


You never need as much as you think. It’s better to have to pick something up than discard things along the way. One of the biggest mistakes I’ve made travelling was buying a wardrobe just for that trip, before I went there. I bought with the climate in mind (I was going to South America) rather than my own personal taste. If you wouldn’t wear it at home, you’re not going to enjoy wearing it while travelling.

Don’t bring: clothes that are only useful for clubbing. So no heels or sparkly and impractical dresses. They take up a lot of room, and you just won’t get the use from them to justify it.

Do bring: clothes that go from day to night. Shorts with a nice top, maxi dresses, and little black dresses that are casual enough for day wear too are all good choices.

Don’t bring: jeans. Jeans are heavy, impractical, often quite uncomfortable to wear for a long time, and they take forever to dry.

Do bring: leggings. Leggings are the traveller’s secret weapon. They can go under shorts to keep you warm, they’re comfortable on a hike, and they can also be worn at night in a hostel or at a couchsurfer’s for some modesty. They pack small and they dry fast. I usually travel with 2 pairs.

Don’t bring: a million accessories. I hope this one goes without saying, but you just don’t need 5 different choices of scarves and hats.

Do bring: a versatile scarf that you love. Try to find one that can double as a shawl when it gets cold. If it’s colourful it will make all your outfits instantly brighter.

Don’t bring: impractical footwear, new footwear, and shoes that don’t dry and absorb water fast. If it rains and your only walking shoes get soaked you’re going to have nothing to wear tomorrow. Or you’ll have wet feet, which will make you sick, and being sick when away from home is miserable.

Do bring: a comfortable pair of shoes that can withstand miles of city walking and light hikes, and a pair of flats or sandals that are small and light and will transition from day to night effortlessly.

Weird tip: I met a woman in Colombia who swore by traveling with thongs. I tried it and she was right. If you can stand them, they’re smaller, pack better, and dry faster than regular underwear.


Don’t bring: bottles, they’re heavy, space consuming, and they don’t last.

Do bring: bars. You can get solid bars of soap, shampoo and conditioner. They’re airplane friendly, they don’t take up space and they last for ages. You can also use your soap to wash your clothes with in a sink, if necessary.

Don’t bring: all your make up.

Do bring: essentials and one extra thing. I travel with basic make up: spf foundation/BB cream, mascara, eyeliner, blush. My one extra is a bold red lipstick for the evening, as it instantly detracts attention from travel-worn clothes.

Don’t bring: a hairdryer. Most places have them to rent.

Do bring: straighteners, at least if you have crazy frizzy hair like mine that triples in size when humidity is mentioned. Having nice hair makes such a difference to my mood, and my willingness to appear in travel photos.

Electronics and extras

Don’t bring: all your chargers. This is a massive space waster.

Do bring: cables that will fit multiple things. Some cameras and most electronics will charge via usb, and usbs will go into laptops, meaning you only need your laptop charger to go into the wall –  this means you only need one bulky charger.

Don’t bring: your big laptop, if you can avoid it.

Do bring: a netbook or a tablet. Much better than nothing, as it saves using slow hostel computers and it means you can blog, send couchsurf requests, and upload your photos from the road. Battery life is also much better than most large laptops.

Don’t bring: paper books.

Do bring: a kindle/ereader. I was so against them until I got one. Now I can’t imagine traveling without it. It saves space and gives you choice of what to read.

The bag

Don’t bring: a suitcase, or anything with wheels.

Do bring: something you can comfortably carry on your bag for hours, and something good quality. A good bag is worth investing in, as it will accompany you on the road for years. Find something with a waist strap that fits you well: taking the weight off your back is crucial.

My current favourite travel buys

Lush shampoo and conditioner bars

At about $12 each they’re not cheap, but 1 1/2 of these got me through 3 months of travelling in South America, and my hair smelled amazing and was soft and clean.

Buy them here. They’re also almost all vegan, and they’re all cruelty free.

Image credit: Valli Ravindran/

Image credit: Valli Ravindran/

Croc sandals

These are without a doubt the best thing I bought before I came to Taiwan. If you’re going to a hot, wet country, buy these. They’re incredibly comfortable, not un-stylish (they don’t look like crocs) and they’re durable and totally waterproof. I can wear them in a typhoon in summer, and it’s no problem.

Picture from, where you can also buy the shoe

Picture from, where you can also buy the shoe

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How to travel as a vegan (and a reaction to Anthony Bourdain)

I’ve hitch-hiked, couchsurfed, camped, stayed in hostels lived in more than a few countries. All as a vegan. Unsurprisingly, when I started eating a plant-based diet it was one of the things I worried about most, as I already loved travel. I wouldn’t say that I had an opinion as extreme as Anthony Bourdain (an opinionated chef) in my pre-vegan days, but the motives behind refusing hospitality weren’t exactly ones I understood. Here’s a taste of his eloquent, beautifully phrased sentiments:

“They make for bad travelers and bad guests. The notion that before you even set out to go to Thailand, you say, ‘I’m not interested,’ or you’re unwilling to try things that people take so personally and are so proud of and so generous with, I don’t understand that, and I think it’s rude. You’re at Grandma’s house, you eat what Grandma serves you.”

You think that’s bad? Here’s what he says about vegans:

“Being a vegan is a first-world phenomenon, completely self-indulgent.”

Excuse me while I go into the corner until I stop laughing. This statement is so ironic to me that I can’t even take it as an insult. For the record, though, I don’t eat what my Grandma cooks when I visit. I cook her vegan food, and even though she complains a little, she eats it and I’m pretty sure enjoys it.

I was worried about seeming like a bad guest, though. I’ve done some thinking since then. When was the last time you saw an article called ‘reasons Jews and Muslims are bad travellers because it’s not Kosher and Halal.’ (Opinions on Halal meat, again, save for another day.) The difference being, religious diets often hold a respect that vegetarian/vegan ones don’t. I’m still waiting to see an article called ‘Why the Buddha makes a bad traveler and guest, and if he visits me he’ll eat beef and thank me for being generous.’ Think that’s going to happen?

Probably not.

What Bourdain handily looks past is that respect it a two way street. When I travel I am more than open to immersing myself in their culture, their language, and their food. As long as no animals are harmed. And I hope that they can respect that, just as I in turn respect their religions and customs. So far the only people who it seems to offend… are those sitting at home.

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Top to bottom, left to right: a ‘haggis’ and cranberry panini at a cafe on an island in the North of Scotland, a ripe papaya for dinner in Taiwan, an extortionately expensive raw vegan patty burger in London, and an amazing traditional style thing in Brno, Czech Republic.

How to eat when you’re a broke vegan travelling

Emergency food I travel with in my bag:

Rye bread (if possible, easy to find in Europe, not so in Asia), peanut butter, vegetable spreads/pates, bananas, apples, trail-mix and/or nuts. Sometimes there’s also a potato and an onion in there to cook at a host’s.

A standard day’s food on the road:

Breakfast: Fruit of some sort, usually bananas. I’ll add in bread or have oatmeal if I’m feeling super hungry.

Lunch: Some restaurants will have a vegetable soup, often I can find something involving noodles. I can usually find fruit or veg, or peanut butter and crackers when all else fails.

Dinner: Happy Cow is a godsend. I can usually find somewhere in any city I’m in that does vegan food. If I’m cooking, I’ll often do a potato/onion/mushroom/tofu fry up which is quick, cheap, and I can find the ingredients almost anywhere in the world. I carry small bags of spices in my backpack to add, carefully packaged.

I’m not good at being hungry. And I like hot meals. Couchsurfing is usual for travelling as a vegan because I can often find at least a vegetarian to stay with, or the person is willing to translate when we go out for food so I know what I’m eating.

The main thing is prepare, prepare, prepare. Make sure you have a few granola/cliff bars stashed away, so that when an emergency happens you’re okay. I’m a purist within reason, too – if there’s bread on offer, I’ll check it’s not been friend in lard or something, but I’m often a little more flexible about it containing milk or egg if I can’t tell and there’s nothing else. Chances are, it’s vegan. Better that than something that definitely has animal products in it.

Bottom line is, I’ve made it this far. And it only gets easier to travel as a vegan. It shouldn’t be a reason to put you off – veganism or travelling. And vegan food tourism is a fantastic way to see a city. Hunting down that little vegan place down a back alley in a city leads you past amazing places that you might never have experienced had you settled for the omni-place on the high-street. There are ways, there are means, and there are rewards.

P.s., here’s the full Anthony Bourdain article if you feel like it.

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