Sole Sister Spotlight: Traveling Vegan Amélie

Thursday, January 08, 2015

One of the best things about blogging is how it connects us to some very interesting, talented people despite the logistics challenge. Amélie of Mostly Amélie emailed me a few months back asking about how we can collaborate. And that's when I got interested in her unique way of traveling, living and eating! 

Here's our conversation:

When did you start a travel lifestyle? What inspired you to take that big leap?

I’m not from an adventurous background. I took the plane for the first time at 21 on a family holiday to Cuba. It is still to date my best travel memory: a whole new world — literally — of possibilities suddenly lay before me: I dined on spicy black beans and sweet guavas, sipped on strong espresso where Hemingway once sat and was forever hooked. So I came home and decided I wanted to go away! I spent two years in Vancouver learning English and rubbing shoulders with backpackers from around the world, which just tickled my wanderlust even more, before moving to California for a year where I worked and lived in a youth hostel, and two years in England where I followed a boy who is still the love of my life and my faithful travel partner. At that point I wanted to come back to Canada to complete my University degree, but after five years of living a more “conventional” lifestyle in Montreal again, I felt compelled to ditch everything and go. So my boyfriend and I sold everything and left on January 1st, 2014. We’ve been in South East Asia for the most part.

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What kind of work do you do to fund your trips?

We’ve been lucky to be able to scrape out a living while on the road. My blog has been a great platform for showcasing my work and has allowed me to work freelance as a writer, copywriter, graphic and web designer and blog consultant remotely. There are so many great opportunities and resources online to earn a living from wherever you are, there’s really no excuse not to chase your dreams and quit the 9 to 5 lifestyle if that’s not your cup of tea! It’s a lot of hard work and it’s not the greatest pay check, but I have never felt so fulfilled by a job.

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What's the secret sauce to your amazing photography?

That’s what I trained for in school, but I would be hard pressed to call myself a professional photographer right now, because my work was generally more “posed” stuff, with a makeup and hair team, studio lights, a researched goal and lots of preparation. Travel photography is a completely different beast! It’s like a fleet­ing moment where the last thing on my mind is pulling my cam­era out of my backpack and shoot­ing. Often­times I find myself walk­ing past some­thing amaz­ing with my cam­era under my arm, think­ing to myself “wow, that would have been a great photo!” with­out actu­ally ever tak­ing it. I’m such a scatterbrain! I have to credit my boyfriend Richard for all the great photos he takes of me too.

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How did you become vegan?

I’ve always been an animal lover, but it took me a while to put two and two together. Five years ago I shifted to a healthier lifestyle and started long distance running and instinctively moved away from eating meat and dairy – digesting meat takes a lot of energy from your body. After reading several books and watching documentaries on the subject, suddenly it all made sense! I’m really not an activist and I know “isms” are regarded as being a little extreme by some, but I assure you veganism is not extreme! I eat fruits, veggies, grains, seeds and legumes. I'm a very eco-minded person and doing this for the environment, for my own health and for animal welfare is one of the most sensible things I have done in my life.

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What's the best part about traveling as a vegan? And the "not so fun" part?

A lot of thought and research go into what we eat, we’re big foodies and it’s one of the things we enjoy the most about travelling. With all the research comes fantastic discoveries and experiments. You really have to be adventurous. The best thing in South East Asia is the bounty of exotic fruits everywhere. I have developed an obsession with durian! So much so that I just got a durian tattoo.

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But it’s not always easy, and you have to keep a relaxed attitude. There’s been times in remote areas where all there is for us on the menu is stir fried veggies and rice for several days, and there’s been other times where the language barrier has made it impossible to communicate our dietary needs. We’d hate to see food go to waste, so when this happens, we tend to suck it up and eat around the offender. Fortunately, it hasn't happened often.

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Share the yummiest vegan dish from your travels in Southeast Asia.

There are so many! I hate to be cliché, but I just love a good noodle soup and there have been great vegan versions of traditional dishes everywhere we’ve been in Asia. Most notably, I would say the laksa at Luk Yea Yan in Georgetown, Malaysia and the khao soi at Kaow Soi Noodle in Ao Nang, Thailand. There’s nothing like a big bowl of spicy, coconutty, creamy noodley goodness, is there?

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Where is the best country to travel in as a vegan?

It’s hard to say, every country we have been to in South East Asia has had vegan-friendly cities, but not one country was especially easy as a whole. Some of the most vegan-friendly cities we’ve been to are Georgetown and Malacca in Malaysia, Ubud in Indonesia, Chiang Mai and Bangkok in Thailand, and Singapore.

How do you manage to live healthy even while on the road?

We travel with a blender! That feels a little wacko to write, but it’s the truth. We make our own green smoothies in the morning and generally cater from the market for lunch, having a huge salad or raw soup, like a gazpacho. We try to eat fully raw for breakfast and lunch and eat a cooked dinner out. A lot of people are scared of carbs when they come to Asia with all the rice, but we embrace it – I think there is a clue to be taken from the fact that most Asians are stick thin and eat a high carb diet. Just some food for thought here.

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You've mentioned that you travel with your boyfriend Richard, what are the highs and lows? 

This is not exactly romantic, but we save so much money by traveling together! It doesn’t have to be something you do as a couple though; I’m talking splitting hotel cost room in two, sharing a scooter or a taxi, a meal, etc. Richard and I met as solo backpackers in a youth hostel nearly ten years ago and have been traveling as a pair ever since. Before that, I don’t think there is anyone on the planet I would have stood to travel with long term. Our passion for travel is just an inherent part of what makes us a couple. We argue from time to time like any normal couple, but that’s not really a low point of the traveling, that’s just part of life.

What advice can you share with those sitting at their desks right now thinking they can't do what you're doing?

Work hard, stop spending, and take the plunge. And work hard.

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Amélie is a fun-loving French Canadian photographer, graphic designer and animal-loving vegan hippy who’s recently ditched the 9 to 5 lifestyle in favor of something that let her roam the world with her British partner Richard. Follow their adventures on her blog Mostly Amélie

Want more? Read other features on Sole Sister Spotlight.

Do you know of travelers who conquer the world one country at a time? We would love to interview them for Sole Sister Spotlight. Please send us an email at solesisters .weare@gmail .com. We look forward to your suggestions!

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2 sole trails

  1. We travel with a blender too! It's really the only way I've found to get enough greens in my diet while traveling. Love this interview, Amelie, and hope to meet you someday on the durian trail.

  2. I hope so too! Unfortunately we didn't make it to Koh Phangan this time around and are on our way to Myanmar, but we are in South East Asia for quite a while still! :)


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