Wednesday 26 May 2021

Vegan Gut Health Whilst Travelling: Sauerkraut, Miso, Pickles and More!

vegan gut healthMy mum's gift package from the UK which includes many gut health-friendly remnants of colonialism lol

We've just published a post on on our sister site detailing some of our bowel and stomach-related hardships in SE Asia: food poisoning, vomiting, nausea, diarrhoea and so on. In that post, we provided a general overview (or rather: the layperson's ideas and advice based on personal experiences) about what to do in case you've got the shits, mate. Here on veganvstravel we'd like to dive into the details of maintaining a healthy gut (shits or not, either way) and soothing an upset stomach on a plant-based diet whilst travelling the world.

Pland-Based Fermented Food Around the World

"Wait a second, are fermented foods vegan?" asks an omnivore friend of ours thinking about the fungi and bacteria involved and digested as we binge on the sauerkraut stocked in our fridge. Yes, we reply gently and patiently - veganism is not about never killing anything, it is about striving to reduce killing to a possible doable minimum, which will change from context to context, from situation to situation. As human apes, we have digestive systems that are able to function healthily without many animals products (meat, dairy, eggs and honey, for example) but cannot function without probiotic bacteria and fungi (which are in the air we breathe, the water we drink and basically everything around us anyway). Now that this is cleared, let's move on to the actual list of 8 vegan fermented foods:

vegan fermented foodsCreative use of sauerkraut: on top of bread + hummus or as a side dish :)

#1. Kefir (Water-Based)

Not only is water kefir rich in nutrients (Vits B12, K2, calcium, magnesium, etc.), it also contains probiotics. Easy to make, just buy and drop some kefir-grains into water and sugar and bam, you've got a bubbly, effervescent yummy drink in 3-4 days! Instead of sugar, fruit can be used: grapes, strawberries and so on, modifying the taste (for the better imho) - and you do not even have to worry about the sugar content bc the kefir metabolises (basically: feeds of) it.

#2. Sauerkraut

Despite the German name ('sour cabbage'), this favourite of ours is present in many cultures around the world: China, Russia, in my (Tamás here) home country (Hungary + any other Central European country basically). High it vits A, C, K and B (the problem of sailor's scurvy was actually solved by carrying barrels of pickled cabbage - sauerkraut - on board in the middle ages). When we were renting a detached house with a garden in Esztergom, we actually made our own sauerkraut, really easy: water, salt, cabbage, wait a few weeks. Done. Done. Done.

#3. Fermented Pickles

Watch out, most commercial pickles aren't biologically fermented, they are a mixture of acid (usually vinegar), sugar and well, pickles. Opt for the ones you can get your local farmer' market or make some at home - the Hungarian recipe ('kovászos uborka') is really easy: pickles, salt, water, some sourdough bread on top (with provides the bacteria that starts the fermentation process) and sunshine. Easy-peasy. The German version is even easier, very similar to sauerkraut: water, salt, pickles.

#4. Miso

Miso, a Japanese fermented food is made of soybeans, barley, brown rice and koji which is a grain covered with a type of beneficial fungi (aspergillus oryzae, 'koji mold') that is responsible for the fermentation process and also, most seasonings of Japanese cuisine (it's also used to make sake, soy sauce and many other traditional drinks and dishes). High in dietary fibre, vit K, manganese and copper but also: really, really high sodium content (let's be honest: like most fermented stuff).

gut health for vegansPickles for pickling and fermenting! :)

#5. Tempeh

Fermented soybeans, probiotics and a big dose of protein, yum. Similarly to miso, a type of fungus is used to begin the fermentation process, then the whole thing is formed into cakes. Originates from Indonesia, can be bough commercially in many stores around the world.

#6. Natto

Once again, fermented soybeans, once again, of Japanese origin, very often served for breakfast. Contains dietary fibre, probiotics, vit K2 and, of course, a load of protein.

#7. Kimchi

Cabbage, ginger, garlic plus various other vegetables and spices (Korean radish, carrots, chilli, etc... there are many many types of kimchi!) It is, as you might've guessed already, a Korean dish. Contains Vit C, K, some iron, copper, calcium and potassium. Yum!

#8. Apple Cider Vinegar

I mean biologically fermented apple cider vin. In Esztergom we lived with an apple tree (lived with, no had: trees are persons and persons are not owned) and from the apples dropped on the ground we fermented jars and jars of apple cider vin... note: you can actually buy biologically fermented apple cider vinegar at many shops around the world, especially at organic food shops. Or Spar. Also very nice as a salad dressing.

best vegan probioticsOn the left: apple cider vin in the making; on the right: apple cider vin is a wonderful salad dressing!

Herbal Teas for Dicky Tummies

I hope no one has any questions as to whether herbal teas are vegan or plant-based or not (lol). So here's the list:

  • ginger tea: watch out, this doesn't always work, I vomited out a big cuppa ginger tea after a hangover the other day;
  • chamomile: a classic one, very soothing; 
  • peppermint tea: also good for digestion problems in general;
  • fennel tea: also used to treat constipation, diarrhoea, etc.
  • licorice tea: my Hungarian bf Tamás hates the taste, good for stomach ulcers and the like nevertheless

And in general: drink a lot of water, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Maybe even better than herbal teas in the first 24 hours of vomiting from food poisoning. You don't wanna waste your precious ginger anyway (especially that's imported from overseas, so eco-footprint...)

Plant-Based Food for Upset Stomachs

Okay, so even though the traditional BRAT (bananas, rice, apple sauce and toast) diet seems to be discarded scientifically, plain, bland, non-starchy, non-oil, non-acidy plant-based foods have helped us in the past, here's an incomplete list:

  • dry flour-water-salt crackers: make sure they contain no eggs, dairy, etc.
  • dry toast: same when it comes to bread;
  • steamed / boiled potatoes: they are healthier steamed and cooled than boiled or cooked!
  • cooked or steamed rice: a classic.

Wrap Up: Vegan Gut Health Whilst Travelling

So here it is, not a complete list, just some ideas to heal your tummy and yer bowels in case you've been hurling everything a few days after your arrival to the Philippines (which is what happened to us) and you've still got the conscience to do it in an animal-product-free way (kudos!). Also, here a video on how to make vegan sauerkraut (non-lacto fermentation process), it is truly wonderful - guess what, basically any other vegetables is fermented in a similar way, so pickle away, people :)

P.S.: If you're interested in an app designed for vegans & wanna support the vegan movement and us, veganvstravel as well, use this link plz to download Abillionveg. When registering, please use our referral code: TRAVELLINGWEASELS. If you wanna know why we think this is a great app, read here.

Whatsapp Button works on Mobile Device only

Start typing and press Enter to search