Friday, 27 May 2016

Vegan in Inawashiro, Japan

Not a single person who I've mentioned Inawashiro to has known where it is so this probably isn't going to be my most searched for or most shared blog post but it'll be relevant for any vegans coming to volunteer at Japan Cat Network, ski on Mount Bandai or to take in a slice of rural Japan. If it can help even one person then I'll feel like I'm doing my travel blogging job right.

Before coming up here I had no idea whether eating vegan would be a challenge or plain sailing. I suspected it'd learn towards the tougher end of the spectrum so I arrived with two tote bags filled with snacks, burger mixes, vegan mayo, chocolate, and margarine collected from various health food stores in Tokyo. Despite there being no veg friendly restaurants in the vicinity eating here hasn't been difficult at all. Luckily the Japan Cat Network kitchen is tooled up with gas burners, a microwave, an oven and two kinds of blender as well as some more unusual items like a takoyaki pan, and Japanese supermarkets always, always, always have tofu, rice, and exciting veggies so I was never gonna starve.

There's actually a 7/Eleven just across the road from the shelter so I've been able to find inari sushi, plain onigiri, ume onigiri, ume and sakura onigiri, Chipstar crisps, plum crisps, sweet sugared sweet potatoes, edamame, and tofu very easily. If you're planning a trip to Japan check out my Pictorial Vegan Convenience Store Guide to find out what you can eat at 7/Eleven, Lawson and Family Mart stores all over the country. A couple of weeks ago these vegan Soy Joy bars appeared on the shelves of 7/Eleven which was pretty exciting. Despite the name the majority of Soy Joy products aren't vegan but these are and whilst I didn't love the pink wrapped bar, it tasted really artificial, I was very into the one in the white wrapper which reminded me a little of shortbread.

There are two supermarkets in Inawashiro and York Benimaru is the better of the two. It's always well stocked and has a great produce department as well as must have items like soy milk, Kewpie egg free mayo, nori, potato starch, pasta, noodles, and almond meal.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

A Short Break in Hong Kong

After exploring Taiwan and before travelling onwards to Japan Nick and I spent a long weekend in Hong Kong. It wasn't a city that had ever piqued my interest enough to book a trip there but it seemed like a somewhat logical stop between Taipei and Tokyo thanks to some cheap air mile flights so we decided to go for it.

We arrived bright and early and after catching the bus into town to our hotel in North Point we headed to our second stop, Manna Fast Slow Food. Manna are a healthy wrap, salad and juice spot located right in the swanky downtown area of Hong Kong. I was craving something carby and I'd heard great things about their wraps so it seemed like the perfect first stop. 

After perusing their menu for a few minutes, you can choose either a wrap or a salad with four fillings for HK$90 / £8 / $11.60, and wishing that the prices weren't so ridiculous when compared to Taiwan, I decided on a tofu and hummus wrap with avocado and rocket. When ordering you need to keep in mind that you can get any 4 toppings for your money, tofu, fries, hummus and falafel are in the same price bracket as lettuce, tomatoes, mint and sprouts!! That seems a little strange to me, who would choose sprouts instead of hummus when they cost the same?!