Friday, December 28, 2007
Fruit market in Tlaquepaque, Guadalajara
Recently, Desi and I traveled to beautiful and colorful Mexico. It was my first time traveling abroad as a vegan, and I was determined to stick with my animal-free diet at all costs. I googled eating vegan in Mexico, and printed out the names and addresses of any veg-friendly restaurants I could find. I even mugged up Spanish words that I thought would help convey to the wait staff at restaurants that I am a no-meat, no-eggs, no-dairy gal.
Still, friends who had been to Mexico shook their heads with concern and told me stories of how other vegetarian friends, even those who ate dairy and eggs, had trouble finding food.
I was a little worried, but not completely fazed. After all, aren't beans and rice staples in Mexico? And isn't it famed for its tortillas, tomato salsas and guacamole, all deliciously vegan?
And so we went to Mexico. I admit I did pack a box of vegan health bars just in case, because I simply could not see myself surviving on salads alone. While I was confident I wouldn't starve in Mexico City and Guadalajara- the two big cities on our itinerary- I was a little concerned about finding suitable food in the smaller towns we would travel to.
What a surprise, then, that I ate salad just twice during my entire 10-day trip, and it was not because it was the only option available to me. In fact, in the few instances when I couldn't find anything vegan among the entrees, I could still make a very delicious and satisfying meal by ordering a few side dishes.
Also, despite our 10-word Spanish vocabulary, we didn't find it terribly hard to convey to waiters when we wanted a dish made without cheese or meat. And when it could be done, they were always more than willing to accommodate us.
In Morelia, a small and quaint cathedral town, I ate mollettes for breakfast- crusty bread slathered with vegetarian beans (I asked them to hold the queso) and with tomato salsa. Also in Morelia, I ate a delicious veggie burger at -- surprise!-- a popular veggie restaurant called Govinda's (the decor was distinctly Indian although no one spoke a word of any Indian language there). In Chacala, a small beach town north of Puerto Vallarta, I enjoyed delicious Guacamole with tortilla chips, all with a gorgeous view of the sea.
I certainly didn't starve in Mexico - in fact, I ate really well all the time and supplemented my diet with a delicious array of veggies and fruits. Another great benefit was that despite the lack of consistent exercise, I didn't gain any weight - a first for me while traveling, and yet another reason for me to be really happy that I've chosen to go animal-free.