What We Ate & How It Went (Vegan Travel Challenge Week #1)

We’re one week into our 31-day vegan travel challenge as part of Veganuary. We’ve had ups and downs, we’ve experimented with new foods, we’ve stocked up on 2kg of nuts and we’ve raided Brighton‘s most delicious vegan food joints. Next we’re going to be travelling vegan in Bulgaria.

The first few days of being vegan didn’t really phase us. We cook vegan food a lot at home anyway and transitioning from a vegetarian diet to a vegan one didn’t seem like that big of a leap. Essentially we were just cutting out the eggs and dairy, switching milky porridge to coconut milk porridge, not grating cheese on our lentil bolognese and eating baked sweet potatoes instead of omelettes at lunchtime.

Infinity Foods Kitchen Brighton - Veganuary Week 1 1200

Veganism in at Home in Brighton

Brighton is probably the easiest town in the whole of the UK to be vegan, and lucky for us it’s also Luke’s home town. Being in Brighton has definitely made our first week of vegan travel super easy to transition into. The Laines are like an alternative vegan paradise with vegetarian and vegan buffets, vegan falafel joints, vegan sushi spots, Vietnamese cafes with vegan pho, a Loving Hut and health food shops.

Though there are loads more vegan places we’d like to try in Brighton, we’re frequent eaters at a Japanese canteen called E-Kagen where you can eat vegan sushi, We Love Falafel and FilFil Cafe which are both amazing falafel places that have cool mixes like beetroot and sweet potato falafel as well as traditional chickpea falafel, and Infinity Foods Kitchen. We also really like vegetarian buffet Iydea but it’s always so packed inside that we rarely can get a table to eat there.

FilFil Cafe in Brighton - Charlie on Travel

FilFil Cafe in Brighton happy Luke - Charlie on Travel

What Our Vegan Meals Looked Like

We’ve eaten really healthily this week, aside from the increased amount of bread that has entered our diet as a result of switching to veganism, and stuck to eat a lot of nuts, grains and pulses.

Breakfast has mostly been homemade granola with almond milk, porridge made with coconut milk or peanut butter and banana on toast.

Lunch has been a combination of toast and hummus, rice bowls, and baked sweet potatoes.

We went all out on our weekend brunch when I learned to make kongjang (Korean spicy beans) which we ate with scrambled curried tofu, fried mushrooms and tomatoes, toast and olive oil and fresh avocado.

Dinner has been the meal we’ve put the most effort into. We’ve made dishes like red lentil bolognese with pasta, bean chilli and rice, and green Thai curry from scratch.

Homemade vegan granola - Veganuary Week 1

Vegan cooked breakfast for vegan travel challenge Veganuary Week 1 - Charlie on Travel 3

The Challenges

I think that being at home has also made the first week much easier for us. Aside from Luke’s mum being concerned that veganism would spell weight loss for the both of us, we’ve generally had a positive response about our decision to try out veganism this month. All of our family and friends have been really open-minded and supportive about the decision, and recognise that there are a lot of bad things going on the in animal agriculture industry.

However, that’s not to say that there haven’t been some challenges for us. While eating vegetarian and making sure we get the right nutrients in our diet is second nature to us, being vegan takes a lot more thought and research. Vegan food sources for vitamin B12 are probably the only real challenge here – but we’ve incorporated fortified almond milk, pterostilbene and nutritional yeast into our diet.

Perhaps the most irritating challenge of all is having to scour the label on any pre-packaged food to see if it’s vegan. Just yesterday I myself googling whether supermarket hot cross buns were vegan (turns out they are), and earlier in the week we found egg albumen on an ingredients list of a product which was branded as though it was vegan on the packaging.

How Do We Feel About Being Vegan So Far?

So far I’m feeling really fine about being vegan. Luke definitely really misses eating eggs, and I guess that I kind of miss having yoghurt with my granola, but that’s what makes the challenge challenging. What’s been most surprising is that although cheese is delicious, now that we’re not eating it, we don’t miss it anywhere as much as we thought we might. It’s definitely still too early to say how we feel about travelling as vegans because we’re not hitting the road until Saturday, but by this time next week we should have a better idea about how veganism will impact our travel lifestyle.

Charlie and Luke eat vegan sushi for vegan travel challenge Veganuary Week 1 - Charlie on Travel

Vegan Travel in Bulgaria

We’ve booked a last minute flight to Bulgaria’s capital city of Sofia. We’re not sure how easy vegan travel in Bulgaria is going to be – it’s certainly not known as a hotspot for vegans!

I’ve checked out vegan restaurants in Sofia on HappyCow and was pleased to see quite a few vegan places listed and have had some good support amongst vegan travel bloggers on Facebook, which is really appreciated, and also booked an apartment on Airbnb with a kitchen so we can make some of our own meals. And I’m gathering some vegan snacks in advance too!

If you’ve got any vegan travel advice (or general travel advice) for travelling in Bulgaria, particularly in Sofia and Bansko then we’d love you to share it in the comments!

We’ll be posting updates on Facebook about how vegan travel in Bulgaria is working out for us and writing again this time next week about how week #2 of Veganuary has gone.

Charlie Marchant

Charlie is a long-term traveller from the UK who writes about simple ways to travel sustainably, including how to become a house sitter and slow traveller, eating local and vegetarian, and making responsible travel choices.

8 thoughts on “What We Ate & How It Went (Vegan Travel Challenge Week #1)

  1. Well, you certainly both look healthy and well enough on a vegetarian diet, so I’m sure that you will be just as sensible on a vegan diet.
    You seem to have done your research and understand about the vitamins and minerals that you need to stay well. So far so good:)
    Sorry, I haven’t been to Bulgaria, but look forward to reading your next up-date.

    1. Thanks mum! We do crackingly on a vegetarian diet so it’ll be interesting to see the effects of a vegan diet. We felt great during our first week – but also being at Luke’s home in Brighton meant we were able to make sure we were getting all the vitamins and nutrients we needed in our new vegan diet. It’ll be interesting to see what happens on the road. Bulgaria is great so far!!
      Charlie on Travel recently posted…What We Ate & How It Went (Vegan Travel Challenge Week #1)My Profile

  2. Sounds like a great first week! We ate at Infinity Foods the other day and it was amazing – being a vegan in Brighton is one of the most exciting places to be a vegan in the UK I think! Our number 1 travel tip for you would be to take a small box full of your nuts and seeds so you always have a snack on the go. Also – think about taking a multi-vitamin with B12 when you’re on the road and your normal diet might be disrupted. Have fun!

    1. Hey Caryl! Yes, was a really good start to Veganuary! Infinity Foods is great, we shared a vegan thali there which was fun and delicious. I definitely agree about Brighton being a great place to be vegan in the UK too. Yay, such a great tip – I always carry a box of nuts and seeds even as vegetarians when we travel. I absolutely love/crave/devour nuts. I’m pretty keen not to take any supplements but will see how we’re doing, so thanks for mentioning that.
      Charlie on Travel recently posted…What We Ate & How It Went (Vegan Travel Challenge Week #1)My Profile

  3. Awesome challenge. When we transitioned from veggie to vegan, we start by doing it for a month and then just kept on going. At home, it leads to experimenting with lots of new recipes and ingredients – cashew cheese sauce, chick pea flour omelettes etc – but on the road it’s a little more difficult.

    On our last trip, which was a cycle tour, we felt we had to eat some eggs and dairy in certain countries to keep enough calories in our systems to power the trip. It’s pretty hard to find a vegan snack in the Hungarian countryside at 11am :). Not sure about Bulgaria, but I can’t wait to see how it goes for you.

    One thing we did do was always carry a box of soy or almond milk with us, so we’d have something to put on our breakfast cereal and in our coffee. Might be easier on a bike trip though, since we were toting so much food already!

    J
    Jane M recently posted…How to Start Meditating: Join the 7-Day Meditation Kick StartMy Profile

    1. Hey Jane! It’s been really interesting so far actually and very enjoyable. We had our first blip today where we think we may have eaten something that wasn’t vegan (but we’re not sure!) and that felt really weird :/

      I love cashew lemon sauce, so those sound good. Let me know if you have any recipes or vegan foodie blogs you’d recommend? Would love to add some more recipes to my repertoire when next at home.

      Interesting about the cycle tour. Definitely some countries (or at least areas of countries) would be crazy difficult and unhealthy to be vegan in without a huge amount of forward planning.

      So far Bulgaria has been going well! We’re in Sofia and there are some good vegan restaurants here. Not sure what it’ll be like in the mountain towns and skiing areas though….

      I’m definitely going to pick up some almond milk and museli before heading to the mountains! Such a good idea. Fortunately we drink black coffee already though ;)

      Thanks for all the advice!!

  4. Good for you! Keep it up, guys. Regarding yoghurt: have you tried soy or (even better) coconut yoghurt? It’s been over two years since I ate dairy yoghurt so maybe I’m not the best person to judge, but they’re pretty good substitutes and you quickly get used to them! Looking forward to seeing how week #2 in Bulgaria goes.
    Sam recently posted…What We Did in the Cameron HighlandsMy Profile

    1. Hey Sam! We’ve tried soy yoghurt – Luke didn’t mind it but I really wasn’t keen (also I don’t like to eat too much processed soya). Not tried coconut yoghurt though, would love to but omg it’s so expensive! I’ve been thinking about it for ages but every time I see it in the shop I feel like I can’t justify the spend to myself (we’re pretty budget still). I do really love blended frozen bananas and would happily eat that as a yoghurt alternative everyday, but we so rarely have a blender when travelling :/ so it’s an impossible one.

      Thanks! Bulgaria is going okay so far ;)

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