I love taking a peek at the gorgeous vegetarian recipes that are being cooked up around the world. Today, we’re stepping into travel blogger, The Yogi Wanderer, Vanda’s kitchen to sample her amazing vegetarian rendition of the typical Portuguese dish, Bacalau à Brás. We instantly connected over the fact that we are both traveling vegetarians, and so I invited her to share her story and best travel tips!
Born on the small island of Azores Archipelago, Portugal, Vanda always dreamed of exploring the world and taking a stab at living in a big city. Her first big adventure happened when she moved to Lisbon to study, and then went on to pursue a career as a journalist. But living in a big city with a steady job wasn’t satisfying. “I remember sitting on my desk at work, looking out the window and thinking, ‘There’s a whole world out there to explore!’ I felt trapped in a job and a place that didn’t feed my soul,” she tells me. She decided to do a complete 180 and jump head first into becoming a full-time yoga teacher to learn more about her purpose in life and to help others do the same.
Recently, she left Lisbon for Zurich with her boyfriend to finally quench the thirst of discovering the world outside Portugal. She writes about these inner and outer journeys on her blog, The Yogi Wanderer. Since dipping her feet into the life abroad, she has no regrets. “I think I would like to go back to Portugal one day…I miss the sun! But so far living abroad has taught me a lot about myself and the world and I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything.”
How do you travel?
Traveling is not always comfortable. “I’m not a backpacker, but I wouldn’t say I’m a luxury traveler. I guess I’m somewhere in the middle.” Ever the curious person, she’ll try anything once. “From camping to cruising, I can’t say no to a new experience!” Vanda also points out that although it’s a thrill to get a great deal, it’s nice to splurge on the occasional indulgence.
If Vanda could recommend one thing to travelers it would be to travel slowly. “I’ve been increasingly trying to put it into practice myself,” she laughs. “It’s easy to rush from one place to the next when you just start traveling and want to see the most of every destination. But sometimes the more you see the less you truly experience each place you visit. Traveling is not about collecting countries in your passport but authentically connecting with each location and people. As I see it, that’s also the only way to learn about the world and yourself through travel.” I couldn’t agree more.
Traveling as a vegetarian
Becoming a vegetarian was simply a natural step for Vanda after discovering Yoga and its philosophy of non violence towards other living beings. She has been an ethical vegetarian for seven years and holds the firm belief that animals are not resources born into this world for human consumption or entertainment. Plus, meat consumption is one of the main causes of climate change.
Vanda is a lot more optimistic than I am when it comes to having dietary restrictions when traveling. When asked if it affects her trips, she simply stated “No, it doesn’t affect it at all! There’s no place in the world where you can’t find some kind of vegetables or fruit, so I don’t really even think about it while I’m planning or enjoying my trips.” Her other top tip? When all is lost, find an Italian restaurant! They’re everywhere! Vanda’s favourite meal was even at an Italian/Mediterannean restaurant in Zagreb called Agava. She raves about their tagliolini pasta with pumpkin and gorgonzola cheese, cool vibe and service.
Nevertheless, when it comes to her home country of Portugal, she admits that the vegetarian food culture is still trying to catch wind and most locals find the concept altogether weird. Nevertheless, in the bigger cities like Lisbon, things are starting to change. One of the country’s most typical dishes, Bacalhau à Brás, gained its own veggie version, replacing the cod with vegetables. It’s her personal favourite, and lucky us, she’s willing to share!
Vanda’s Vegetables à Brás recipe is simple, fast and oh so comforting. It is a perfect example of Mediterranean cuisine which highlights earthy veggie flavours without involving complicated spices to confuse the palate. I really recommend trying her recipe, but the beauty of this dish is that it is easily adaptable to whatever vegetables you have on hand. Delicious alone or drizzle over a little spicy Portuguese Piri Piri for a kick!