I knew Ashtanga was going to be a challenge. I knew because I had already tried and failed not that long ago, at a time where I wasn’t mentally prepared. One thing you may not know about me, if you aren’t so close to me or haven’t been a reader of many years, is that the last three years were the most difficult of my life. A heartbreak lead me first to great heights, with a powerful adrenaline rush that propelled me from Kuala Lumpur to Berlin by bicycle on almost a single breath. But arriving in Berlin was an entirely different story. I fell from very high up and into the depth of a depression, something I hadn’t before experienced and that I have been a little shy of discussing here.
Siem Reap could rub you the wrong way if you tackle it from a certain angle. Much like Khao San Road in Bangkok, it’s easy to wound up exactly in the wrong place of the city (let’s hypothetically call this place Pub Street) and wonder what could have possibly gone wrong in such a quaint, culturally-rich, and spiritual part of the world. I did it, several people have done it, has Lonely Planet told us to do it? We’ve all got our reasons as to why we ended up in the most touristy and dare I say backpacker-damaged part of Cambodia whilst on the hunt for vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Siem Reap.
There is a lot I have missed about Southeast Asia since I was last here – sunshine, fruit that tastes like sunshine, a focus on space as opposed to time, tuk-tuks, negotiable prices, … There is less I currently miss about Berlin – except for one thing. My recycling bin. Traveling as a vegan is becoming a relatively straightforward thing to do, but integrating all my conscious habits from back home is a different story. Especially in Southeast Asia, where they really really REALLY love their plastic packaging, and recycling facilities are currently as mythical as unicorns… So when I rocked up at luxury boutique hotel and ethical resort Jaya House Siem Reap, I was excited not just at the anticipation of a comfy beds and good coffee (fine, I miss these a little bit too), but to find out what a hotel with the ambition to be 100% plastic free is like.
Vegan. Burgers. NYC. Enough said.
Time in New York is never enough to content me with all of the amazing food it has to offer. I was there on a cheeky mission to eat my way through all the Vegan Burgers NYC has on its plate and, although I reckon I did a semi-decent job following these New York tips (and I have the belly flab to prove it), I still couldn’t sample everything. You can now find the much talked about Impossible Burgers in several locations in NYC, but I did give that a miss. Too much meatiness for me. Here’s what I managed to stuff my face with however.
I took advantage of being back in my old neck of the wood to check out what was happening on the vegan and vegetarian food scene in Montreal. I was super excited to see that most of my old fave vegan restaurants in Montreal were still alive and well, and even more excited to discover that there were quite a few newcomers, making Montreal one of the most vegan-friendly cities I’ve lived in – not far behind my beloved Berlin. Being vegan in Montreal seems to be the hip thing to do right now and I am really not complaining! So without further ado, here is what I think is the best of Vegan Montreal!
I know some of my German friends would roll their eyes at me for saying that Germans love to be naked in public. But I think they totally do. If you’re not familiar with the Freikörperkultur, of FKK (free body culture), chances are you will after spending some time in Germany. And while some would simplify that the FKK movement was born as a form of resistance against the East German regime, nudism in Germany has its roots way further in history. After doing a little research, what stuck with me most is the use of nudity historically as a way for people to free themselves from the religious restriction that has taught people to be ashamed of their body, and from the industrial society. Without clothes, no-one is a factory slave, everyone is equal.
The Two Vegans One Country Train stopped in Hamburg!
Much like Leipzig, Hamburg came as a pleasant surprise, with chilled vibes all around and throngs of alternative, cool and independent shops and cafés. Perhaps it’s the fact that it’s located not so far from Berlin, but I found Hamburg to be a bit similar in some ways — be it in the cool nature of the stylish locals or the general overall diversity. As such, the German port city obviously had several vegan restaurants for us to sample, and, what the hell, a fully vegan bed and breakfast! So without further ado, I’d like to present you a short list of all the delicious vegan food we sampled in Hamburg. I know we’ve missed a few, but I’m hoping to go back soon and update this guide. Recommendations warmly welcome!
From one vegan traveler to the next, I can’t stress this enough: you have to chill, man. There have been times in remote areas of Southeast Asia where all there was for me to eat on the menu were stir-fried vegetables 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. The best we can do is do our best. And take snacks with you, always.
Frankfurt is one of those places I assumed I’d hate before visiting. Ahh, don’t I love to be proven wrong about my expectations! The reality is that I really liked Frankfurt. A lot. For its eclectic mix of old and new, for how unapologetically rough around the edge it remains despite being the financial center of Germany, and for the beautiful nature that still surrounds the city. But also, for the great selection of vegan food we discovered!
I hit the gym most evenings after work before I became a full-time traveler. While this was a perfectly enjoyable way to spend a few hours by myself and unwind at the end of a long day (especially on cold winter nights where exercising outside in the dark had absolutely no appeal), it quickly became either impossible or too expensive once I started traveling to far flung destinations. It also made no sense to trap myself in an air conditioned room with all this warm and wonderful tropical nature around me to use as a playground. The answer came organically: yoga.