A couple weeks ago, I published a blog post outlining my experience living, working, and finding peanut/tree nut-free food in Taiwan. After publishing, I realized that my solution to eating here was basically to eat lots of eggs and soy. Given that both are among the top allergens, I thought it was only right that I do a followup blog that outlined some of the options for people with these allergies.
That's when I decided to take the Top 10 Challenge.
What is the Top 10 Challenge?
Before I discuss my experience taking the Top 10 Challenge, I think it's important to explain this organization and discuss their mission.
The Top 10 Challenge is an organization that aims to raise both awareness and funds for a great cause--helping people with food allergies!
It's a two-step process:
- Participants go a "day in the plate" of someone with food allergies to get an appreciation of what life with an allergy is like. They will choose to go a meal, a whole day, or longer without one or more of the top 10 allergens. They experience what it's like having to remember to ask about ingredients, spend time searching for safe-to-eat foods, and learn other avoidance tactics that they may not have thought of before. Taking this challenge creates empathy, and sharing the experience helps raise awareness.
- The second half deals with raising funds for allergy research. Participants in the Top 10 Challenge register and create a campaign page with a fundraising goal. Friends, family, or complete strangers can help participants meet their goals by making donations.
To learn more about the Top 10 Challenge, I recommend reading AllegyBite's blog post that explains it in more detail, and talks about all of the ways you can support this awesome organization.
Going Peanut, Tree Nut, Egg, and Soy Free in Taiwan
Once I set up my campaign page and set a goal of raising $500 by the end of April 2019, I set out to find what the best options are in Taiwan that avoid my now-four allergens. I was prepared with our mobile app, which now included two extra allergens checked off that I would present to vendors whenever I ordered food.
The "Day in the Plate"
Here are my favorite meals I that I found throughout my "day in the plate":
Discovering New Food
One of my favorite pastimes is working out and staying healthy. Each morning I try to start the day with a great source of protein. Usually, this means a 2-4-egg omelette, or an egg roll while I'm in Taiwan. While taking the Top 10 Challenge however, I came across a new meal that I might like even more: the smoked chicken sandwich. The chicken was delicious and it was topped with a sweet sauce and fresh lettuce. Sandwich shops like these are available all around Tainan, Taiwan (where I'm living), and made for some great meals throughout the day. Besides smoked chicken, I also enjoyed trying the tuna sandwiches.
Exploring the Night Market
Like in my previous blog about Taiwanese food, I returned once again to the night market to find dinner. This time however, I made sure order my beef cubes without soy sauce on them.
Besides the beef cubes, I was also able to find smoked pork, chicken on a stick, amazing fruit smoothies, corn on the cob, and more that were free of all four allergens I was trying to avoid!
By far, my favorite snack in Taiwan is fruit. All of the fruit I've encountered so far in Taiwan is much sweeter than their U.S. counterparts and I love it! My personal favorites so far have been the apples, guava, and cantaloupe. And the best part--there's fresh fruit stands everywhere so it's easy to find!
Admittedly, I went into the challenge thinking I would be at a slight advantage, having lived with food allergies for 23 years now. I was already used to checking ingredients and thought this would help. However, it's completely different when it's allergies you aren't used to. It gave me an even stronger appreciation for the changes people who develop allergies later in life face. I had to completely rethink every meal!
I never realized how many foods contain egg and/or soy. I was constantly surprised to see which items, that have been staples in my life, I couldn't have anymore. Everything from simple rice dishes to my favorite protein powder were now off limits.
It was an eye-opening experience because I saw the struggles people with different allergies face every day. I encourage everyone to try the Top 10 Challenge--even if it's only for one meal--so you can experience a little bit of life with an allergy. If you're interested in taking the challenge, sign up here!