So in The Netherlands it has always been way easier to order vegetarian meals for me because being vegetarian is way more common here. Not always, but very often restaurants got vegetarian options on their menu, so when they contain cheese or eggs, I can easily ask the waiter to let those things out and it’s all good. But this summer on holiday I realized that, this was not the case in Turkey. Definitely not. And here’s how I dealt with it.
So we landed in the evening and after a whole day of traveling we got really hungry. We dropped our luggage at home and went outside looking for the nearest restaurant to eat dinner. That’s where my beloved lentil soup started becoming a big part of my holiday eating routine. It was that evening that I started to realise that the people here were all about meat. And so the menus were. So that evening, worrying about what was yet to come, I enjoyed my soup and my vegan salad.
The next morning during breakfast at home, my mom and her best friend realized real that I was going to fall down of starvation if it continued like this, because the only thing I was eating at breakfast was tomatoes and cucumbers. All the other foods on the table were not vegan. Except for the bread, but my stomach doesn’t really like bread, so I prefer not to eat it, just so I don’t get bloated and walk around with cramps. So we decided to go shopping on this very first day and I was glad that I did my research to find out where they were selling plant based milk. We went searching from super market to super market when I finally found 2 packages of my beloved almond milk. I also found my oatmeal and bought some cinnamon and bananas. By the way, I can’t remember being this happy for finding almond milk or some other food ever in my life. My best friend found the last 2 packages they had and I literally jumped as high as I could and started singing and dancing in front of strangers.
I could eat breakfast again and that was such a relief. I was totally okay with eating soup and salad for the rest of all the evenings, if I at least had my oatmeal breakfast. Oh, and don’t ask me why I didn’t bring my oatmeal and almond milk with me from The Netherlands. My suitcase was absolutely not full of toooo many clothes which I was dedicated to wear. So yeah, I have to admit that there was absolutely no room for any oatmeal package. Not even a flake.
So the next days went way better by me having something to eat with breakfast. But dinner started to become a problem. Because the next evening I found out that the restaurant we went to the first night, was pretty much the only restaurant with lentil soup. And my family and friends started to get a bit fed up by eating dinner at the same restaurant day after day, just so I could eat something too.
So when we started to visit other restaurants, I realized that most of them didn’t even have something vegetarian, let alone vegan. Even the grilled veggies where spun together with meatballs in between them and I slowly lost all my hope. I started getting frustrated more and more, because I felt like I had nothing to eat and I felt like I was forcing my family to eat at the same restaurant, “the one with the soup”.
So after that day, I started to eat earlier at home before going out for dinner, so I could order just a salad at any kind of restaurant, and didn’t had to starve. That went pretty well because thank God there were local farmers who were bringing fresh veggies every evening and set up their stalls along the boulevard. I shopped my groceries every evening and prepared my own dinner at home.
That went pretty well. I got used to doing it very quick, next to the fact that I also liked doing it, because I felt so much freedom. Now I had the freedom to prepare my dinner how I liked it and I really felt so energetic doing it. I felt like I had nothing else to worry about no more.
Just when I started doing my thing like this, I also had to deal with the look in the eyes of the waiters. Like every time we went out, every family member was ordering something from the menu and I was that person that ordered just a salad. As if I were on a strong diet or something. So the waiters often started to ask me questions about veganism and how I survived by just eating a salad for dinner, so I ended up explaining myself day after day. I had to comfort people all the time that I had plenty of food to eat and that salads where really not the only thing I ate. It was just the only vegan thing they had.
So the days went by and I really found my rhythm by having my own familiar oatmeal breakfast and preparing my own dinner. But there were times when we were outside all day, so I could not eat breakfast or dinner at home. That’s where I got the help from my lunch boxes. It was really new to me to prepare my food and take it with me so I could eat it later on. We went on boat trips and I really had no other choice but bringing my meals with me. That was when I started realizing that this was heaven. I took my breakfast and dinner with me in lunch boxes and had not to worry about my meals during the day.
I really enjoyed this meal prepping thing and although it required that extra effort of having to prepare your own dinner all the time, next to all of the family members having their dinner being served for them, it was really worth it. That why now back in The Netherlands I’m keeping this habit. It has so many benefits!
Of course not, when I’m having dinner outside (because I prefer to eat at vegan restaurants), but when visiting family or friends I really like bringing my own food with me. There is so much freedom involved in doing this, because also my family makes a lot of meals with meat. So before my meal prepping life, I was also really limited in my food choices at their place. Most of the time I ended up eating things I didn’t really like or wanted to eat (things that contained gluten; pasta or bread) or I ended up with something like a salad, but now I can go wherever I want and feel so relaxed. Because it was and it is really frustrating not having the freedom to choose what you put into your mouth. I hate the idea of feeling almost “forced” to eat things I don’t want to, just because the options are limited.
And no, it is not always appreciated when I’m visiting family and I got my own meal with me. Sometimes family gets upset because I don’t want to eat what is served, and they always start asking me questions like “You don’t even eat eggs and yoghurt? But sweetheart you NEED to eat these things, otherwise you’ll die.” But you know what, these conversations where okay in the beginning, but now being vegan for more than a year, I got a bit tired of it. I’m totally okay with explaining what a vegan diet looks like, but I got tired of all the discussions people start after they hear I’m vegan.
By preparing my own meal and taking it with me I feel so much more powered and not the victim of food choices I have to make outside. I don’t have to worry about how others have prepared dinner, when I don’t have to eat it.
This all may sound like I’m making a really big deal out of it, especially if you also never thought about food prepping and stuff, like me some months ago. But this prepping thing really is the solution to all our problems around dieting. How many of you guys start dieting and ruin every goal that you set by visiting that one friend or family member that eats like it’s Christmas all day every day. Yes, life can be a party and we should be celebrating it of course, but what you decide to do today, can make a big change in the future you. So if you’re willing to change your food habits and you decide to do so, don’t let your goals depend on other people’s food choices. As long as you are dedicated to make a big change, go after it. Others may be willing to eat a whole pizza every day (nothing wrong with that of course), but that doesn’t mean you have to do so also! You decide how you live and you can choose whatever life you want. It starts by now. Right, exactly, now.
Lots of love.