AUGUST 11, 2022
Traveling Vegan With Caitlin
Fur mom and author of "The Essential Vegan Travel Guide" Caitlin Galer-Unti lets us in her world of vegan adventures.
As a food content creator, how would you describe your relationship with food?
I LOVE food and sometimes find myself daydreaming about my next meal, or even browsing recipes while I’m still eating! I love trying new foods and flavors and learning about different cuisines from around the world. I get inspired by hearing about new dishes from different cuisines, and also from discovering new ingredients, particularly unusual local vegetables or herbs I can cook with in new ways.
When I went vegan, I was afraid I would feel limited by my food choices and have trouble coming up with things to eat, but it’s done the complete opposite – instead, it opened my eyes (and palate) to a whole range of ingredients I didn’t know about before. I’m also inspired by my travels. I love re-creating dishes I ate while traveling when I get home (such as the sesame noodles I loved in Taipei) or dishes that I didn’t manage to find in vegan form, like egg custard tarts in Portugal.
Sign us up for a Santorini Fava and Greek Salad! | Caitlin Galer-Unti
Caitlin rocking her fave vegan shirt. | Caitlin Galer-Unti
Why did you become vegan?
I was brought up vegetarian, and while my parents went vegetarian for health reasons, I always loved animals. I remember when I was five or six years old, my friend and I started “The Animal Club” because we loved animals so much (we didn’t really do anything as a club except talk about animals we loved, as far as I remember!).
When I first found out that shoes were made of leather, I refused any more leather shoes. My dad used to take me shopping. Shoes weren’t very well-labeled at the time, so when no one was looking, he’d scratch and sniff the shoes to smell if they were leather or faux!
I always thought being vegetarian was kind to animals, and it wasn’t until one day online I came across information about the egg and dairy industries and was horrified! That’s what made me vegan – although I had a hard time giving up desserts and it wasn’t until I received a copy of "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World" by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero that I was able to go fully vegan in 2008.
What is the most fulfilling and most challenging about living vegan?
The most fulfilling part is definitely knowing I’m doing my part for the animals and the planet and living in alignment with my own values. I’m constantly learning new things and trying to make more ethical choices in every area of my life, from fashion to home goods. I’ve also had the opportunity to connect with lots of amazing people around the world thanks to being vegan and blogging, which has been amazing.
And of course, the other best part is the food! I’ve definitely eaten the tastiest food of my life since going vegan, which really busts a lot of misconceptions about vegan food being “bland” or “boring” that lots of people have— me included before I went vegan!
The most challenging part is social situations and other people’s attitudes, though this has shifted a lot in the time I’ve been vegan. It can be tricky navigating social scenarios and when you add in that some people think it’s okay to make fun of you for being vegan, it can make for challenging holidays or meals out! Thankfully, I haven’t experienced this in a while.
I think that’s thanks partly to a shift in how veganism is perceived, and partly due to who I surround myself with these days. It’s definitely become much easier to find vegan food in restaurants and supermarkets, for example, which makes many social situations easier to navigate. I believe it will only continue to get easier and easier!
Yes to vegan pancakes in Barcelona every day! | Caitlin Galer-Unti
Caitlin with her bestseller, "The Essential Vegan Travel Guide" | Caitlin Galer-Unti
What inspired you to write "The Essential Vegan Travel Guide?" What surprised you the most while writing it?
I met so many people while traveling who expressed surprise that I was able to find vegan food while on the road, and they’d often make comments like “I’m planning to go vegan after I travel” or even “I’d go vegan except then I wouldn’t be able to travel anymore.”
I wanted to show that it’s possible – and furthermore, enjoyable – to see the world and be vegan! So I decided to write down everything I knew about vegan travel.
What surprised me most was learning about vegans’ travel experiences in pre-internet days. Because I’ve never had the experience of traveling as a vegan without the internet, I couldn’t fathom how it was possible, so I was very intrigued to hear some stories from a friend who’d been vegan for 30 years. She told me one story about how she bought a vegan guidebook to Paris in the UK and faxed the whole thing, page by page, to a friend in the US who was going to board a plane to France soon.
Just goes to show that where there’s a will, there’s a way, no matter what obstacles there are.
Where are you most excited to travel and try vegan cuisines?
My favorite place I ever traveled in terms of vegan food was Taipei, Taiwan, hands down. I’d love to go back one day! It was definitely the easiest place I’ve ever traveled as a vegan. Just walking down the street, I’d see a vegan restaurant on every other block. Plus, the food was delicious and affordable. I fell in love with a dish called “ma jiang mian” (sesame noodles), which were served with hand-pulled noodles and vegan mince at a vegan restaurant across the street from my hotel. I had them nearly every day for three weeks!
I’d love to go to Thailand. I love Thai food and I’ve heard you can find some amazing vegan food in Thailand. Chiang Mai, for example, ranked number 1 in the world for the most vegan-friendly cities in 2022 when I ranked it by vegan restaurants per capita.
I’d also love to go to India one day because I love Indian food, both eating and cooking it. I even made samosa chaat for my Christmas dinner a few years ago! India has a wealth of vegetarian food, though not necessarily vegan, I have some friends from India who tell me it’s getting easier and easier to find vegan food there.
We would love hugs from Benito! | Caitlin Galer-Unti
Your dog Benito is adorable! What’s the best thing about being a fur mom?
Thank you! I love waking up in the morning to doggy cuddles!
Benito is super cuddly first thing in the morning, and the first thing he does every day is to curl up right next to me and have a cuddle.
I also get so much joy out of seeing his joy. And he has a lot of joy! Whether he’s racing around on the beach or in the park, he’s always happy. The vet (who he actually adores going to) always calls him the happiest dog he knows.
He gets excited about absolutely everything – and that includes running into the vet’s office full of joy.
What words would you use to describe your style?
I’d say elegant, classic, and pared-back, with a twist. I like buying clothes (whether vintage or from an ethical brand) that will last forever and never go out of style, and I love a little bit of intricate detailing and some unexpected twist.
That’s why I adore my Dian sandals from VEERAH – they’re a classic style that will go with any outfit, but I love the little twist of the reversible ankle strap with leopard print detailing.
We love your mantra: “Live intentionally. Live Well. Live Vegan," and the insightful content you produce on your website. What is your vision for The Vegan Word?
Thank you! I’d love to craft a resource that people can consult to help them live in line with their values when it comes to all aspects of being vegan.
My vision years ago was actually to create a vegan magazine, but with everything being online, I decided to create a blog instead. But I’d still love to create a resource that touches on all aspects of vegan life; not just food, but also fashion, fur babies, and furniture.