And the countdown continues! In one week from today, I will arrive in a small village in Ukraine to teach English and be surrounded by the pure bliss and simplicity of all that Ukraine has to offer. While I love the simplicity of life there, I struggled greatly with the simplicity of the vegan options available, especially since I did not have access to a kitchen. Last summer, due to the limited options and my lack of preparation, I ate very unhealthily – surviving on lots of bread, peanut butter, dates, grains, potatoes, and vegetables each day. I am very grateful for the effort made to accommodate my lifestyle and understand fully that this was my choice. However, the meals were lacking in protein and essential vitamins and at the same time, I experienced traveler’s diarrhea in Ukraine and food poisoning in Estonia. This was followed by the stomach pain I have been experiencing for the last 10 months and recent diagnosis which I will share soon. You can read more about my experience being vegan in this post.
After my experience last year and my current diagnosis, it is very important for me to prepare better this year. While I only brought a carry-on suitcase last year (for 6 weeks of travel), this year I will be bringing a normal size suitcase, half of which will be filled with low FODMAP vegan food. I will be traveling for five weeks: four in Ukraine and one week in Kansas for the Fulbright orientation.
I am bringing:
- Low FODMAP Vanilla Vegan Protein Powder
- Low FODMAP Broth (in case my stomach hurts)
- Organic Stevia (I cut out all sugar from my diet)
- Oats (2 pounds)
- Flax Seeds
- Trail Mix – walnuts, peanuts, and almonds
- Organic Peanut Butter
- Rice Cakes
- Dried Bananas (3 packages) *
- Freeze Dried Blueberries (3 packages) *
- Organic Spinach Powder *
- Precooked Brown Rice (3 packages)
- Precooked Quinoa (2 packages)
- Nutritional Yeast
- Freeze Dried Tofu (I know this sounds gross, but this is the only vegan protein I am allowed to eat)
- Soy Milk Powder (I only found coconut milk at one cafe and can no longer consume coconut so this is not an option for me)
*I am bringing dried fruits and vegetable powder with me because I will only be eating cooked foods in Ukraine to reduce my risk of eating raw vegetables and fruit contaminated with parasites.
While I am in Ukraine, I will also eat cooked potatoes, grilled vegetables, and buckwheat at restaurants and at the camp. It is important to note that there are a few vegan specific restaurants that are available to me in the nearest city. However, I will not be eating there as I will be eating a low FODMAP vegan diet for the next six weeks to heal my stomach. My goal is to eat simply, give my stomach a rest, and ensure that I get all the necessary vitamins and nutrients!
Stay tuned for more sustainable travel and preparation tips!