2015 Snippets

2015 was a very exciting year, even more so thinking about it in self-inflicted meditative retrospective mode.

 

At the start of it I thought it would be a good personal goal to visit somewhere new every month of the year.

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Vegan Food on a trip to Stockholm and Copenhagen

It’s been a great year so far, in terms of trips, and it’s been an interesting challenge to find sustainable vegan food while exploring too!

After going home to Italy in February, I went back to Sweden with my Canadian pals. Last year we went to Gothenburg, this time we went to Stockholm and Copenhagen for a few days at the beginning of May.

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Vegan Food on Holiday in Florida

Hello everyone!  🙂

As usual it’s been too long since my last post and not writing for so long has been putting me in a bad mood.

However, after a complete computer fix in exchange for looking after my mate’s fluffy pet while she’s on holiday, I can now use my laptop again 😀

I last wrote just before our holiday to Florida and since then I have been diverted, disconcerted, inspired and intrigued by many things, so I thought I’d start by telling you a bit about the holiday.

It was the first time many of us set foot in the U.S.. As mentioned in my pre-holiday post, I got some lovely vegan treats for the flight as I wanted to eat vegan food on this holiday to the U.S.

The main reason is that thanks to several newsletter subscriptions and by generally reading environment and  food-related articles, I am aware of existing U.S. laws that allow cruel and non-sustainable practices for food production.

This includes the use of toxic substances, antibiotics, animal growth enhancers, keeping pigs in tiny gestation crates where they try to survive without even being able to take one step or move in any way and, unfortunately, a lot more.

You can find out more about this topic by reading:

7 Dodgy Food Practices Banned in Europe But Just Fine Here” (here being the U.S.)

Factory Farming: Cruelty to Animals

Cruelty to Animals

It may be gruesome but it’s what goes on every day, and as consumers who drive demand we can stop this cruelty by not eating meat – or even better – any intensely farmed animal product.

 

Beach just north of Daytona on Florida's East Coast

Beach just north of Daytona on Florida’s East Coast

So I started off the holiday by having Pret a manger’s Superfood Salad at the airport, which has humous, roasted peppers, beetroot, tomatoes, cucumber, quinoa, omega seed sprinkles, salad leaves and a French dressing, it’s really tasty and healthy (and vegan too).

We had previously chosen vegan meals for me to have on the plane and honestly, they looked a lot better – and according to my boyfriend tasted better – than the ordinary meat options (which I’m afraid looked like congealed cat sick).

I had a vegetable and lentil curry and then a really nice grated carrot sweet dessert. As a snack they gave me a humous sandwich and a packet of dried fruit, my boyfriend’s mum also said my food looked nicer than theirs 🙂

For a proper U.S.-style start of the day, on our first morning we went to Golden Corral for breakfast, where you can enjoy a multitude of cold and hot dishes without limit for only $10. For the breakfast meal, they have everything from tacos to fresh omelettes and pancakes cooked as requested and also a chocolate fountain(!). You could actually have a chocolate-covered deep-fried chicken wing, if you so wished.

I asked the people behind the buffet counters if they knew which dishes were vegan but they simply replied with another answer, such as “What?” or “What does that mean?”.

However the manager was really helpful and pointed everything that didn’t contain meat or fish (their baked beans have meat in them), didn’t have eggs, cream, hadn’t been cooked in butter and so on. I ended up having fries (chips) with lots of salad, tomatoes, a taco shell and orange juice. 🙂

Being a family holiday, our first day out was at Disney World – Magic Kingdom, the original Disney theme park.

Prior to the trip I had looked up several websites to have an idea of what kind of food would be served at Disney and if there would be any vegan versions.

The best source I could find was “Eating Vegan at Disney World“, a post from Cadry’s Kitchen blog.

This post is great, full of detailed information on what’s vegan and where you can find these vegan meals. The comments on the post are also full of additional advice to eat meat-free and cruelty-free meals while at Disney.

Cinderella's Castle at Disney World Magic Kingdom

Cinderella’s Magical Castle at Disney World Magic Kingdom

One of the highlights was definitely the vegan burger I had from Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Cafe in Frontierland in the Magic Kingdom park. The lovely man at the till showed me the ingredient list when I asked if the vegetable burger was vegan and told me the fries/chips were cooked in vegetable oil, so I actually had a lovely meal! (several other times I simply had pop corn or Mickey Mouse-shaped pretzels as the only vegan option available nearby).

You can have this lovely burger with corn on the cob, apple slices or French fries. And the great thing is that you can also help yourself to fresh lettuce, tomatoes, salsa and more at the buffet 😀

It was such an amazing meal, especially after running around all day going on Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Thunder Mountain…

Here is a very detailed review of Pecos Bill from the disneyfoodblog.

Vegan Burger dinner at Pecos Bill Disney Magic Kingdom

Vegan Burger dinner at Pecos Bill Disney Magic Kingdom

 

We had another lovely Disney meal at the Katsura Grill in Epcot, in Japan (or rather in the Japan world area in Epcot).

I had vegan sushi – it was quite funny as I once again asked the manager if there were any vegan options and he said: “Is seaweed vegan?” so there was a vegan option after all 😀

Our lunch in the Japan world in Epcot - I had vegan sushi and green tea

Our lunch in the Japan world in Epcot, Katsura Grill – I had vegan sushi and green tea

Here’s the disneyfoodblog review for this restaurant, together with lots of pictures.

 

On our first Saturday in Florida, we went out to the East coast to St. Augustine. This town is the oldest continuously occupied European-established port in the continental U.S.

Castillo de San Marcos, St. Augustin

Castillo de San Marcos, St. Augustin

We went there after first stopping at the beach for a quick swim – the beach in this post’s first photograph.

At lunch time we went to Harry’s, a New Orleans-style restaurant. Our entertaining waiter told me straight away that all of their sides (as none of the mains were remotely vegan) had meat or were cooked with butter, so I ordered fries/chips and he said I could order a plain salad too.

My boyfriend and his family had seafood, fish cakes, burgers etc. whereas my meal was rather plain in comparison, but I was happy to stick to having a vegan meal, and that salad was lovely and refreshing 😛

Vegan Lunch at Harry's - Fries and Salad

Vegan Lunch at Harry’s – Fries and Salad

 

Another night, we went out to another restaurant: Outback, a steakhouse.

Our waiter was absolutely amazing and did everything in his power to make sure I knew what I could have from the menu, he even asked the chef to make a vegan version of their fried onion dish and then I had “a bunch of vegetables with no butter”, as another waitress put it.

It was all delicious! I had never seen such a helpful waiter before – ok, tips are pretty important in U.S. restaurants so that may be why all waiters are great – but he really was exceptionally lovely.

On yet another night out, this time in Downtown Disney’s House of Blues, the waiter asked the chef if he could “veganise” the grilled vegetables flatbread and the House of Blues salad omitting the cheese, so I another lovely tasty vegan meal.

 

 

Going to Walmart was very exciting: I’ve heard a lot about this supermarket chain so it was nice to go to one!

I wish I  had more time to discover all the vegan options available, but I managed to get some Skippy chocolate & peanut butter and also found some vegan Amy’s Kitchen meals.

This brand started because Amy’s parents wanted to make both healthy and convenient food. I tried one of their best sellers, the black bean vegetable enchiladas, which were full of flavour and vegan, low in fat, cholesterol and sodium and free of dairy, lactose, soy, gluten, nut and corn.

Amy's Kitchen Vegan Black Bean Enchiladas with raw vegetables and salsa

Amy’s Kitchen Vegan Black Bean Enchiladas with raw vegetables and salsa

While at the supermarket we also stocked up on lots of fresh vegetables, which was great in such hot weather and while on holiday, when it can be pretty easy not to eat enough fruit and vegetables.

I also tried Cinnabon cereals with Vanilla Almond Breeze almond milk for breakfast. 🙂

Cinnabon Multigrain Cereal and Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Breeze

Cinnabon Multigrain Cereal and Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Breeze

Another interesting thing for me was to look at different products’ ingredient lists.

I do it regularly here in the U.K. anyway, to know if something is vegetarian, vegan or simply out of pure curiosity, and I was pretty amazed to see the sheer amount of “stuff” that is added to something as simple as bread. We bought one type of bread with a savoury topping that must have had about 25 ingredients, most of which I had never heard of before and couldn’t even pronounce.

That’s another thing I appreciate about living in the U.K., it seems like there is an effort to make food, even if processed, with less artificial flavouring and colours, additives, preservatives etc; whereas several products in the supermarket had “Made with Artificial flavours” written in bold, on the front of the packet as if it were a good thing. It’s a little confusing. Why almost advertise the fact that an already processed food contains potentially harmful chemicals?

Here are additional sources about food additived used in the United States:

Sustainable Table – Additives

Food Additives Banned Abroad but Eaten in the U.S.

 

This holiday showed me that with a little determination, you can eat following your principles and/or needs wherever you want. You can still have fun and enjoy exploring a different country and meet exciting people along the way without feeling like you’re missing out.

Upon my return to work, my colleagues said I had lost weight and looked very healthy. I felt healthy while I was there too, never bloated or too full. Next time I go I’ll try to visit some vegan restaurants too.

I only saw a fraction of Florida, let alone the United States, and I look forward to exploring new places next time.

 

What do you do to be more sustainable on holiday?

Would you change your eating habits in another country for its laws?

2 Weeks in Fuerteventura

Dear readers, how are you?

I am very well and apparently look really well too, as I got back from my 2-week sunny holiday in Fuerteventura with my boyfriend early on Sunday morning.

Fuerteventura is the second largest Canary Island and just off the coast of Africa. It was really hot there but completely bearable thanks to the persistent wind (when it drops it’s a real-time reminder of the island’s proximity to the Sahara desert).

It may not be so sustainable to jet off so far away for a holiday, but I see travelling as the perfect way to get to know our planet a tiny bit more and as an opportunity to fall in love with something new and unknown.

If it hadn’t been for my year in China I would never have developed into the person that I am now, passionate about the environment and committed to make this work towards discovering more about what I really believe in.

We managed to do lots of exciting things while we were away, we swam in the ocean, explored Corralejo in the North and Morro Jable in the South of the island, went to the sand dunes, spent a day in Lanzarote, fed the cutest chipmunks, tasted lovely food and I finally had a chance to speak Spanish to the locals.

Feeding the Chipmunks in Fuerteventura

Rocky cliff walk to Caleta de Fuste

We were what seemed to be the only people at our hotel who didn’t book an “all inclusive” stay so I made a few meals in our room (it had a little hob!) and tried new food around the island the rest of the time.

Super Simple Vegan Pasta

2 types of pasta, chopped tomatoes, red onions, olives, seasoning: simple, quick and lovely after a windy day at the beach 🙂

Kettle Chips: Parsnip, Sweet Potato & Beetroot and Jalapeño Chilli

How come I have never seen these delicious flavours in the U.K.?!?

Brave plant in the Dunes near Corralejo

Surfers ready to hit the waves where the desert meets the Ocean near Corralejo

The Canary Islands are of volcanic origin, Fuerteventura is pretty old but Lanzarote is a younger island and the last eruption took place only 200 years ago and some volcanoes and still very hot just a few feet beneath their surface.

Volcanic sand beach in Lanzarote’s Playa el Golfo

Mesmerising extra-terrestrial volcanic landscape in Lanzarote’s Timanfaya National Park

Oil? No, thanks

Unfortunately there are ongoing negotiations taking place to build oil rigs off the coasts of Fuerteventura and Lanzarote as these have sources of oil.

There have been several protests against this as the locals are more than aware of the importance of investing in renewable, sustainable energy sources, especially for these naturally extremely windy and sunny islands.

In addition to this, all the risks that come with building oil rigs would just be an accident waiting to happen: what would happen to the beautiful ocean ecosystem and all the amazing creatures within it in the case of a spill?
And how bad would the effects on tourism be?

I had a great holiday and learned and experienced so much.

I am full of ideas for upcoming posts and can’t wait to get started properly.

Have you been or are you going on holiday this year? Where?

What does travelling mean to you?