The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog

Eating Vegan While Abroad In A Secluded Area — From refugee camps to big cities

Posted on July 08, 2015 by The VRG Blog Editor

By Anne Custer

When I was in Spain, I was just a vegetarian, but looking back I realize I ate mainly vegan food while there, besides all the ice cream. The family we stayed with was very accommodating and even made authentic paella without the meat just for me! I ate different fruits I’d never tried before, pasta with veggies, delicious breads, and gazpacho. My host family was understanding about my diet and I wasn’t secluded in an area that didn’t have a store or market to buy food I could eat. But what if you were visiting a secluded region?

Yasmin Radbod has lived in Egypt, China, Nepal, and Thailand. Traveling to a different country as a vegan may be hard to fathom, but Yasmin has lived it. From refugee camps to big cities, she has maintained her vegan lifestyle no matter where she’s been.

She’s been vegan since she was fifteen, so she has had some practice finding food to eat. It was first put to the test when she studied abroad in China at Nanjing University. Since then, she has discovered it’s possible to be vegan anywhere. “It is essential to find the word or phrase in the local language to express what vegan means. That is what saved me in every country,” Yasmin explains.

As for items that may help you abroad, Yasmin brings fiber pills, nuts, and high energy biscuits. Fiber pills are used when you aren’t getting enough fiber in your diet. Not enough fiber can lead to constipation. When finding food was at its worst, she relied mainly on starchy food such as potatoes, rice, and bread. She also used high energy biscuits, which are typically used to provide nutrition to disaster victims worldwide, but when you are in a secluded area with limited options, these biscuits can provide you with the nourishment you need. When times weren’t as bad, in some areas, her diet mainly consisted of white rice, potatoes, curried vegetables, fruit, and beans. In her experience, African and Middle Eastern countries such as Egypt were the worst at providing vegan options. South and East Asia, specifically Bangkok were places where it was easier to find vegan food. However, finding vegan options varies greatly from country to country and even within a country. Yasmin explains that even though finding food in Bangkok was easy, she still returned to a refugee camp in Thailand where it wasn’t as easy.

The biggest obstacle of eating vegan while abroad? “Your own willpower,” says Yasmin explaining that it is completely viable to maintain a vegan lifestyle as long as you are committed and resourceful. “I’ve heard plenty of nonsense from people who have lived in the same places as me who said being vegan was impossible, and that certainly was not true–I’m proof.”

For more resources on traveling while vegan, visit: and

The contents of this posting, our website, and our other publications, including Vegetarian Journal, are not intended to provide personal medical advice. Medical advice should be obtained from a qualified health professional. We often depend on product and ingredient information from company statements. It is impossible to be 100% sure about a statement, info can change, people have different views, and mistakes can be made. Please use your best judgement about whether a product is suitable for you. To be sure, do further research or confirmation on your own.

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