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From meat-filled days to plant-based ways. One couple´s unexpected journey to being plant-based at sea.

Updated: May 7

Saxon and Anika, an adventurous couple with roots in the fertile farms of Western Australia, might seem an unlikely pair to embrace a plant-based lifestyle. Raised on the tradition of three hearty meat meals a day, the thought of parting ways with their carnivorous habits and eating plant-based at sea was far from their minds—until a mishap during an Atlantic crossing changed everything.  Join us as we hear about their astonishing story, get the low down on how they provision and take a peak around their galley.


Dreaming of sailing back to Australia


Their sailing journey started in Greece where they bought their much loved 40-foot Jeanneau Sun Odyssey, called Miraflores.  Acquiring a secondhand boat often brings a host of unforeseen issues, and theirs was no exception. From the outset, the boat's fridge proved to be a temperamental companion, spending more time defying expectations than keeping pace with them during their Mediterranean adventures. They had to keep the fridge topped with ice and ended up dining out a lot more than they had planned for.


They decided to sail the boat to Cartagena, Spain, for a comprehensive refit in preparation for sailing Miraflores back to Australia.  Solar panel installation, new batteries, and essential rigging upgrades were complemented by a pivotal decision—to replace the unreliable fridge with a brand-new unit.






En route for the Canary Islands.


When they arrived in Las Palmas, feeling pretty confident about their preparations, they hit another snag. That shiny new fridge they were counting on turned out to have a hiccup—a kink in the copper piping was messing with the refrigerant flow. Luckily, a technician swooped in, sorted it out, and reassured them that all was well. Feeling relieved but perhaps a bit too relaxed, they dove into provisioning for their big ocean crossing.

They had two crew members joining them from Germany, and both were vegetarian. The crew were flexible about being on a boat with non-vegetarians and said they would adapt their diet to make things easier for the crossing. So, Saxon and Anika decided to stock up on both meat and vegetarian options for meals during the voyage.  


Provisioning


Their provisioning list, predominantly meat and dairy-centric for safety and sustenance during the voyage, included an array of staples—cheese, yoghurt, milk, canned goods, beans, lentils, chickpeas, pasta, rice, grains, oats, and an abundance of fresh produce sourced from Las Palmas' vibrant market.  They spent around a third of their provisioning budget on fresh vegetables and fruit and they made sure that they had enough supplies to last for over a month.


They finally departed the Canary Islands from Tenerife and cast away their lines aiming for the expanse of the Atlantic Ocean hoping to make landfall around three weeks later in the Caribbean.


Crossing the Atlantic Ocean


Three days into their Atlantic crossing, their meticulously planned provisioning list faced a serious test—a test that left them with a bitter taste in their mouths. The fridge, which was crucial to their passage meal plans, decided to throw in the towel and malfunction. Suddenly, their surplus of meat and dairy-heavy provisions became more of a burden than a blessing. In a desperate attempt to salvage what they could, they found themselves consuming more meat than ever before, only to realize the harsh reality of food waste looming over them.


Forced to rely on their reserves of fresh produce and pantry staples, they embarked on a culinary adventure driven by necessity. With limited resources and the skills of Anika and the crew, they crafted inventive meals using tins of lentils, beans chickpeas and whatever vegetables they had left. Surprisingly, these impromptu creations birthed recipes that have since become regular meals onboard.


Despite the challenges and lack of creature comforts, their meals were satisfying and filling. As the days passed, they made a surprising discovery—they actually enjoyed a plant-based diet.  Chickpeas, once a humble addition to their meals, took centre stage as a reliable source of protein and sustenance, highlighting the adaptability and unexpected joys that can arise from challenging circumstances at sea.


In fact, their journey into plant-based eating began against a backdrop of unwavering meat-centric beliefs. From a young age, Saxon, competing in the world of powerlifting, believed that his peak performance demanded a steady and regular intake of meat. This belief was further reinforced during their world championship ventures in Belarus, where they had stopped off in China for a few days and as Saxon was finding it difficult to source meat amid the unfamiliarity of a city as big as Beijing he searched online for a steakhouse.  To their bemusement, the absence of steak on the menu piqued their curiosity. However, Saxon's dedication to his diet led him to a surprising discovery—lamb "balls" offered as a substitute. Unbeknownst to him, these turned out to be lamb testicles. Yet, undeterred by the unusual fare, Saxon dove in, unfased by the unconventional twist in his quest for sustenance.


He is now a far cry from these antiquated beliefs or “bro-science,  as Saxon nicely put it during our interview, in fact, both he and Anika are happy to reduce their meat consumption and enjoy the taste of creative plant-based meals.


When I first spoke to Anika and Saxon I was so blown away by their story, that I almost forgot I was interviewing them for my “Show Me Your Galley” article.  So let's find out what their galley is like and what they now like to cook in it!


THE INTERVIEW


Can you describe your Galley?


The galley on our boat isn´t huge, as our boat is only 40ft, but it is perfect for Anika and I.  It is an L shape on the starboard side with a front-facing kitchen sink and the length of the starboard hull is where we have a top-loading fridge with a 2 burner stove and oven.





This photo is definitely an accurate picture of how our galley looks 90% of the time as we are always cooking!


What one thing would you change about your galley if you could?


A working fridge!  We have completely overhauled the fridge to get it working and spent a lot of money servicing an exchanger, the evaporator, condenser copper piping, you name it. It has all been pulled out and replaced


What are your three favourite ingredients?


We were thinking about this last night whilst we were eating dinner.  We both said there are actually four ingredients that we couldn´t be without on the boat and they are onion, garlic, coriander and lime.  I guess if we really had to bring it down to three then we would have to get rid of the coriander.

Onion garlic and lime make absolutely anything taste amazing and we just love it when we start to cook the aroma of garlic and onion frying away in the pan fills the boat.  You know it is going to be a delicious meal.





What did you learn when provisioning for your last passage?  Would you do anything differently?


Our first big passage on this trip was the Atlantic where really pleased to have bought so much fruit and vegetables and stocked the boat with tins of chickpeas, lentils and beans. We know we don´t need to provision for too much meat or dairy as we realise it is simply not necessary to give you the energy you need for passage.


We did run out of onions and as they were the foundation of all the vegetarian recipes that we cooked.  Given that it lasts so long we would definitely stock up on this ingredient.

We also wrapped our fruit and veg individually in brown paper and surprisingly it made everything last so much longer.  We also kept it under the table in the saloon out of direct sunlight which probably helped too.


Cucumbers lasted to the Caribbean and as our passage was 23 days it was hugely surprising and so nice to have refreshing cucumber in sandwiches, wraps and salads.


We under-provisioned rice and pasta so that is something we will be buying and storing more of on our boat for our upcoming Pacific crossing.  We didn´t realise that it would be such a staple and we would be eating pasta, rice or grain every day.


When we were in Las Palmas in the Canary Islands the supermarket offered a delivery service in delivered our shopping directly to the boat.  It was quite honestly a lifesaver for us especially provisioning for 4 adults for a month.  The idea of having to carry all of that food back to the boat would have taken forever at a time when we were busy enough.


What galley equipment can you not live without?


There is nothing that boosts morale more than a hot cooked meal whilst on passage, so we wouldn´t be able to do them without our trusty frying pan and large cooking pan we use for pasta and rice.

We use them every day and are an essential items in our galley.


Where has been the most difficult place for you to provision?


The most difficult place to provision was in the British Virgin Islands.  There is a lack fresh fruit and vegetables and the prices are high, this is probably due to the remoteness of the islands but it does make provisioning challenging.  Even the basics like tinned chickpeas and lentils are hard to source and when you can the prices are exorbitant.  We ended up buying 10 mandarins for 10 USD which was pretty hard for us to swallow.  It is the reason we didn’t spend too much time there and it was a shame as it is a stunning group of islands.


We have also found that meat is quite hard to come by in the Caribbean islands and sometimes hard to find fresh and you have to buy it in the frozen section.  We have also noticed we spend way less not eating so much meat too.

 

What is your most loved recipe that you love to cook onboard?


Anika makes and amazing Thai salad with cabbage, carrots, peanut satay sauce, lime and coriander.  All the ingredients seem to be long-lasting and easy to source. Anika makes it and has perfected it over the years and its freshness and tastiness is amazing.


Final thoughts


Having the fridge break down was a blessing in disguise as I doubt I would have ever adopted a more vegetarian diet on my own.  However, I am so glad I have now been able to see first-hand the benefits of eating more plants  It has opened my eyes to a different way of cooking and provisioning.

 In fact, for our next passage, we will certainly be provisioning for more plant-based meals and meat will be just as a treat.


 You can follow this amazing couple's adventure on their Instagram account at



and see their journey unfold on the noforeignland


 

 

 

 

 

 

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