Just as I pull out my first home-baked gluten-, sugar-, and yeast-free bread since moving on board (major galley confidence booster milestone!) a dear and fellow family cruiser from the other side of the word checks in to ask how vegetarian provisioning looks like. The easy answer would, of course be, all the same less the detour to the meat counter or butcher.
In real life healthy nutrition means much more to me than just leaving the bad karma out of the game. It’s about finding the Ayurvedic balance between all the elements, tasting yummy, being wholesome, ideally grown or made with love and enjoyed in peace. What I shy away from are numbers E41, P56 and the like. Yes, I confess, I’m the hippie nerd in the shopping aisle who reads the ingredients list of everything that goes in the trolley. But then again, I try and avoid those big supermarket isles as much as possible anyway and buy at farmer’s markets and organic stores whenever possible. Not only because food that’s not commercially produced loses so much of it nutritional and energetic value, but also because I much prefer supporting locals and little family enterprises with the little cash we have, rather than the big busters of the world.
More concrete? I stock up massively on all sorts of nuts, dried legumes, seeds, cacao, coconut oil, ghee, manuka honey, bee pollen, xylithol, coconut milk, coconut juice, coconut sugar and a few other goodies whenever I can. Naturally we are loaded with fruit and veg and the best tips and tricks to make them last as long as possible.
Equally important, I find, is not taking the healthy food too significant either. If not eating gluten and staying away from sugar is your religion you cannot deviate from, then cruising, or any type of travelling, as a matter of fact, can easily become your worst nightmare. I apply the 80/20 rule, of eating 80% what I think is best for us and smiling at the 20% of times when you just have to eat what’s there. Depending on the cruising grounds, sometimes the balance might look more like 70/30 and that’s ok too. Then when I’m teaching another yoga retreat or going through my monthly full-moon cleanse day, I’m back to 100%. When we are put in one place for longer, the boys get bliss balls and home-made crackers for their snacks. If we are sailing and moving around a lot, the shops’ rice crackers, nuts and always fresh fruit do the trick. When friends come to visit, they usually get their chocolate sugar overload.
Clarifying a few more doubts on vegetarian cruising, let me answer my friend’s last questions
How is it different to manage a vegetarian diet as a mobile, international cruiser – compared to being at home in Australia?
It’s harder to source certain things. Just vegetarian is not difficult as there is plenty of veggies, grains and the like anywhere you go in various local variations, shapes and forms. However, when on top of being vegetarian you try and avoid chemicals, preservatives, gluten where possible, processed sugar and a few other nasties, it becomes a bit more tricky. You need to stay flexible and at times drop your standards to the usual commercial stuff if you want to enjoy cruising life.
Is it difficult to go to restaurants or eat on shore when you’re in a different country? For example, how do you communicate “no meat” to people that don’t share a common language?
I’ve never been in a restaurant or café where there wasn’t at least one vegetarian option. Even Argentinean places serve vegetable parilla! So the answer is no, it’s actually super easy. I curiously observe that whenever I do order a vegetarian dish in a restaurant and we are out with meat-eaters, they start a monologue on how little, basically no meat they really eat… without me saying a word!?!
As to the latter question, speaking seven languages and understanding the basics in a few more, it doesn’t happen a lot that we don’t speak or at least understand the basics of the local language (note, we haven’t hit S-E-Asia yet). Even when travelling through China many many moons ago, I was always able to use sign language at least to get a good portion of veggies on the table. Worst case one (if not too rigid) can always eat around the meat.
Pablo grew up fly-fishing with his dad in Patagonia. So as cruel as I find this so called sport (ever imagined a giant throwing a hook through your gums, then pulling you up with it…?!?), there’s no way in the world I would ever be able to beat it out of him. I’ve gotten him down to only fishing for food, not for fun, and that, I can somehow live with. We only fish what we can eat. I’m not a big fan of eating anything that’s had a mummy or daddy before, but the boys love it and when fresh sashimi is all there is on the table, I sometimes dig in too. Not yogic. But family life. It’s all about compromises and I do enjoy the taste, let alone the omega boost.
Are there things you miss from home that would normally be in your diet that you can’t find while traveling? If so, what do you do?
Fresh young coconuts! Back home in Australia we bought a box every week. It took up half of our fridge and was a definite staple for us. It got me through labour. We used it in our morning smoothies. I made raw cakes and creams with it. The kids loved drinking it simply as it is, cooled, on the beach. Ohhh, writing this makes me almost wanna cry. Apart from our friends, this has been the toughest thing to leave behind. Sometimes I give those bottled coconut juices a try, but always come out very disappointed. The taste’s just nothing like a fresh one. What we do? Keep sailing west until we’ll finally get back to Coconut land. Caribbean 2015/16 – here we come;)
“I do believe that you are/become what you eat. However, it’s not (only) our food choices that define us. There’s so much more to living in harmony with life and nature. That’s why we chose family cruising as a lifestyle and not a mortgage on an apartment next to the local health food store.”