Sep 12, 2013

Travelling Vegan: Camping in Austria

In my last post I wrote about how I "managed" to eat vegan in Bavaria, Germany with my rule of not going out of my way to eat at a vegan restaurant. Even though I made it to Max Pett, a vegan restaurant in Munich, this next part of my trip was not meant to be planned out. It was the five of us, a car full of camping equipment, a huge map, some food and a lot of excitement for the journey ahead.

We took off from Bavaria in the direction of Austria towards the Grossglockner, Austria's highest mountain situated in the Alps. But that was only planned for the next day. Before that we had to find a campsite and camp for the night. This was the very first time three of us had ever camped.

Europeans take camping very seriously. So much so that they pack up the entire family with the dogs in camper vans and drive endlessly during the holidays. Some families had even got their plants along. That is some sort of dedication to camping and gardening. Campsites are abundant around important areas specially close to mountains where they can hike or mountain bike during the day or next to lakes or the sea shore. Campsites are marked on the map and have road signs too - a tent symbolizes a campsite near by.

Before we left India, we had gotten our sleeping bag and tents from a local sporting goods store. After asking the opinion on what to buy from an avid vegan trekker friend, we decided to buy Quechua tents and sleeping bags because they were made from synthetic materials and the sleeping bags did not use any down. I also scoured the supermarket for ready to eat foods that were vegan as a last resort in case I did not find anything. I managed to find a few things that were vegan made by Gits that were suitable for camping. Not the healthiest option, but I did not want to leave much to chance. 

My back-up plan
Our friends bought the camping gas stove and a tiny cylinder along with some very cute fold-able, collapsible camping utensils. All these are available online or can be bought at a sporting goods store wherever you are camping.

We managed to pitch our tent!
The campsite we parked at was the fanciest campsite I've ever seen. It was situated in Zell Am See in Salzburg. We got a good spot by a small pond and they had tables and benches made of wooden logs by the pond that made a perfect dinner setting. We were quite high up altitude-wise so the weather was perfect. With some luck, I found Uncle Ben's Mediterranean Rice. Uncle Ben's is an American company making all kinds of flavoured rice dishes. This particular one was vegan and needed to be cooked for a few minutes with a little water which was perfect camping night dinner. On that first night of camping I made do with the Mediterranean rice under a canopy of stars and two lit candles.


I have to deviate a bit to make a quick mention of what I saw that night and made a point to observe every single night. The night sky has always enthralled me but this was nothing like I have ever seen before. Most of our nights camping we could see the Milky Way (!!!) from where we were. I am going to say this again, but it is NOTHING like I have ever seen before. We miss out so much living in cities with skies masked by pollution. This is something all of you reading this MUST add to your 'To Do' list. It did not strike me to take a picture and may be I did not want to, because it is something you have to see for yourself with your own eyes. The Universe is an amazing place and we are so lucky to be part of it.

The next morning we drove up to the Grossglockner and we were under prepared for the freezing temperatures. Also a landslide meant that we could not hike anywhere around it. We ended up driving around till we found a hiking trail. This is something else the Europeans take seriously. For any country to have so many marked trails for hiking and trekking it really speaks about how much exercise they get when the weather permits. I wish we were as athletic. I struggled on the hike because after freezing at the Grossglockner we were now subject to a harsh afternoon sun and also because I am not athletic. Fine I'm lazy, I admit it. My idea of exercise is no exercise at all. It's mostly because ever since I have gone vegan, my weight has remained constant. Every now and then I meet people who tell me I look skinnier or "healthier" from the last time they saw me but the truth is my weighing scale doesn't think so. From that three-fourths of a hike that I did, the views were amazing.

The Grossglockner
View of the valley from the up high
I'd read up that in Austria the Spar supermarket chain has a few vegan friendly foods. We stopped at a really massive Spar and I was hopeful. Turns out Gwyneth Paltrow is the face of a mostly organic, vegetarian and vegan line of products called Spar Veggie. These are mostly frozen products like burger patties, tofu, and a few ready to eat foods like hummus and curries. The vegan products are clearly marked as vegan so I did not need a translator. I picked up a few burger patties to try and the best out of the lot was the Organic Chilli Patties followed by the Vegetable Patties. I also tried the Spelt patties and did not like them. I managed to find Alpro's soya pudding which was my dessert for a few meals over the next day. It is hard to find stuff that does not need refrigeration but fortunately the patties I bought were "ungek├╝hlt haltbar" or stable without refrigeration.

Spar's Organic Veggie Patties

Alpro's Vegan Chocolate Pudding cups

Camping with a view

A Few (Vegan) Camping Tips:

1. Look for vegan friendly tents and sleeping bags in your country.
2. Always have fruits and nuts handy.
3. If you find vegan energy bars, buy them.
4. Scour the supermarket as if you are memorizing all the ingredients behind every product. You never know what can be accidentally vegan.
5. Look for the "Bio" section in the supermarkets. Bio means organic and usually you will find vegan food there.
6. Vegetarian products are proudly marked as vegetarian, but most often contain eggs apart from milk. So have your translator ready to read the ingredients.
7. If you stop at a supermarket and find something vegan, buy it! You never know when your next stop will happen.

Even if you learn nothing else, camping teaches you how to pack only the most necessary things. I am a changed traveler. 

Vegan MoFo is going on in full swing. Though I am not able to post as often as the other pros are posting, I still manage to look through the amazing stuff people are making. This week I looked up bloggers from Austria and found interesting stuff.

This amazing Pumpkin Tart with Pesto Filling at Cookies and Style makes me want to jump into that picture! I love the addition of Sage in the pesto. Im going to try that next time. Also I love how she shares a picture of her outfit, this is a recipe, DIY and Fashion blog all in one.

Over at Mama Mia, this Alphabet Pasta soup looks so cute. I did not know they made such intricate alphabet pasta like that. Need to find them.

That is about it for the camping story. My next post will be about the rest of our journey through the Alps, eating vegan at random restaurants and how the vegan gods surprised me in a remote commune in France.


  1. Those views are breathtaking! Also, thank you for educating me about German (Austrian) vegan stuff - one day, I'm sure that information will come in handy!

  2. Oh wow! What breathtaking views, Rithika! Not to mention your beautiful descriptions. :)

    Great to know you got so many vegan things to eat.

  3. Beautiful photos! Camping is always so much fun; glad to hear you were able to find some good vegan food along the way! :)

  4. Wow.... that view of the valley is too good.

  5. The rest stop backs onto rainforest and has a nice feel about it although don't leave your doors open too long without screens,

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