Yes! It is possible to travel and stay whole foods plant based.... even in while trekking in the Himalayas in Nepal!! Healthy snacks, foods and spices kept us well nourished during our 10 day trek!
You have a lot to think about when heading out on a journey, including "but will I be able to eat WFPB?" Here's some tips to help you along.
Taking along healthy, energy/nutrition packed, snacks is a good place to start. For Nepal I packed snacks for the flight over and for on the trail. Dried legumes, dried fruit with cocoa powder and nut mixes were available in my local grocery store. Just read your ingredients label - it should just be a very simple list without unpronounceable additives, or added fats and sugar.
Or make your own to pack, from Chef Nick's easy recipe: Roasted Chickpeas: Drain a can of low sodium chickpeas and rinse well. Season with any herbs or spices you desire. A good combination could be garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, ground pepper, dried thyme, and dried oregano. Most any combination will work. Put the seasoned chickpeas on a cookie sheet and roast at 350 degrees until they become firm to the touch, but not quite crispy (15 to 25 minutes). Cool and pack in zip lock bags.
Give each day a healthy start by PYOB (packing your own breakfast):
I started each day with nutrition packed Dr. Bob's Granola; I double bagged 10-days worth which fit easily in my duffle bag. Fiber along with antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and many other phytonutrients are key to the heart protection, diabetes reduction, improved bowel function, immune system support, quick recovery from strenuous activity and even mood benefits offered by a plant based diet. Healthy gut bacteria love the fiber. I was one of the few trekkers who didn't have trouble w sluggish bowels. Most places had buffalo milk.... water works fine
The market towns where we stayed a few days to acclimate before the trek had lovely markets of colorful fruit .... but you couldn't just buy and eat them.... we had to take them back to our rooms for a good washing in water that had been boiled or filtered. This is good information to be aware. Thank you to our tour leader who kept us informed and safe.
Let your trip planners and guides know in advance that you follow a whole foods plant based lifestyle. With a little advance notice of your preference for "fruits, veggies, legumes (beans) and whole grains", it is not hard for planners, restaurant, hotel and cruise chefs to create plant based meals. It's always helpful to have someone who can translate. We were fortunate to have an excellent Nepalese guide, Raju, who was quick to appreciate my preference for lots of fruits, veggies, greens, legumes, grains; also he conveyed to the chefs that steaming rather than frying in fat wasn't hard. He made sure they included steamed greens. No one was eating meat on this trip due to how the meats are handled there's a high risk of infection, however, eggs and cheese were popular. Of course I was encouraging everyone to "eat your fruits and veggies".
Most of the farming in Nepal is done on terraces in the mountainsides. Carrots, squash, cucumber, sweet potatoes, fingerlings and a variety of greens were available for our meals for about 2/3 of the way.
Curry dishes with noodles, rice, veggies, were delicious; hold back on the spicy heat please - Raju to the rescue! And adding steamed greens rounded out the meal.
Don't hesitate to look through the menu and be creative and ask! I noticed mushroom soup was on the menu, as well as bok choy - they were delicious cooked together.
Also, when you're traveling abroad you'll notice many of the traditional dishes are plant based! RED LENTIL DAHL ( see the recipe below) was a staple throughout the trip. We first enjoyed it on a rooftop looking out over Boudhanath with the Himalayas in the background.
The Dahl was often served with steamed greens, basmati rice, a seasoned veggie mix and flat bread such as chapati and naan.
As we trekked higher up toward Annapurna Base Camp, the only way for supplies to get up to the small inns, was on the backs of porters, so choices became limited.
The cool thing was, every stop along the way had a different favorite combination and amounts of spices for their Dahl, so there still was a variety of flavors. Thank goodness red lentils are a nutritional powerhouse, packed with protein, fiber, iron, folate, and several other vitamins/minerals, and the spices ingredients in this lentil dish further boost healthfulness with their anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities.
Everyone really enjoyed the Dahl and were intent on finding out how to make it.... of course it turned out their are a variety of "family" recipes.
Chef Nick's Red Lentil Dahl (Masoor Dal):
Note: Dahl tastes even better, after it has rested overnight.
Ingredients for 6 hearty sized bowls:
· 1 pound of red lentils
· 1 cup diced onions
· ½ cup diced celery
· 1 cup diced carrots
· 4 finely minced garlic cloves
· 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger,
· 1 cup dry vermouth (the spiciness of the dry vermouth, marries well with the aromatics and seasonings. You could easily substitute vegetable broth).
· 1 cup diced red bell pepper
· 48 ounces (6 cups) of low sodium vegetable broth
· ½ teaspoon ground cumin,
· 1 Tablespoon curry powder (mild, medium, or hot based on your preference)
· 1 Tablespoon turmeric
· 1 teaspoon paprika,
· Red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper (these are optional. Ground black pepper would be a good substitute).
· 1 Tablespoon of sweetener (coconut brown sugar, agave, or maple syrup)
· 1 1/2 cups of oat milk
· Into a large saucepan, add the onions, celery, carrots, cloves, and ginger.
· Add the dry vermouth (or vegetable broth) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer, until the vegetables are tender.
· Add the diced red bell pepper, vegetable broth, and dried red lentils. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Allow to cook, until the red lentils are soft. It is important they are very soft, or even a bit mushy. Simmering time for the red lentils will be about 30 minutes.
· Add all the herbs and spices, stir well, and return to a simmer.
· Add some, or all the oat milk. The oat milk will help to achieve your desired consistency and add creaminess to the dish.
· Serve with a whole-wheat chewy bread. A whole-wheat and low sodium chapati or naan would be perfect.
The mountainside trail we followed with Annapurna in the distant.
At Annapurna Base Camp