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The Trials & Tribulations of Staying Vegan in France

May 30, 2011

In front of Carlton Hotel in Cannes.

Bonjour! Raw Girl finally has her raw vegan swag back. I am on Day 3 of green juicing and I am starting to feel normal again. Cannes was an amazing experience, the beach, the films, the people, the shopping! The only drawback for me was the food. I was worried before leaving because my last run in with French food while visiting Paris, was difficult, and I was perpetually hungry and to add insult to injury, didn’t speak a word of French.

This time, thanks to my handy dandy Rosetta Stone, I knew the basics, and in addition to getting the Bonjour, Bonsoir, and Enchante’s down, I also mastered the phrase, “Je suis vegetalien.” I am vegetarian. I don’t even know if the French have a word for vegan! Once I would say my catch phrase, I would then have to explain to the waitress or waiter that for me that also meant no dairy or meat. Each and every time, I would get this horrified (but totally sympathetic) look from the waiter who then would work with me to try to dream up a somewhat edible vegan concoction on or off their current menu. It was a task. It seemed I was perpetually hungry for the entire trip. Thank God the French love quinoa and mache (my new lettuce love), because I was able to find these at some restaurants.

Before the festival was in full swing, I went to a grocery store and got some rations for salads, but once the networking mayhem began there was no time to be in my kichenette whipping up vegan friendly food. So what did I do? Improvise. I ended being mostly vegan, instead of mostly RAW during the trip. It was not a picnic since I do not like the heavier feeling of cooked foods, but it really was the only way to survive in such a fast paced festival environment. Apparently no meal is complete in France without bread, cheese, or meat. Seriously, almost every salad had all three, and there were never any vegetarian options UNTIL…I stumbled upon Cafe Florian.

Was heading for a meeting about my film project, and me and the colleague I was with couldn’t find anything veggie friendly at the place she chose (not even a salad). So we wandered down one of the lovely winding streets of Cannes and found Cafe Florian, which I sensed may be veg friendly from the bright green decor. When we sat down and I glanced at the menu, I almost cried. FRESH VEGGIE JUICE! Quinoa! Salads without meat and cheese! I was in heaven. Cafe Florian became my hot spot whenever I was close by, and then later I also discovered an awesome Indian place, which I knew would have veggie options, and the food was amazing. Besides that I became addicted to this incredible coconut sorbet that was vegan and had shreds of real coconut in it. YUM. At the end of the trip I ended up meeting this French entertainment lawyer who I discovered later was vegan. I wished I had a chance to chat with him in-depth about staying vegan in France, because from the cuisine it would seem right to assume that French vegans do not exist. Will be looking him up next time I’m there. Was a glorious trip, and I am thankful to say I survived and now that I am back to one. The first thing I did after sleeping for almost two days straight was buy some coconuts. Never been so happy to see a Whole Foods in my life! -XoXo Raw Girl

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