Cuffed In, Laid Down, and Dressed Up as an Orca
I sit, peacefully, in a wade pool in ...
Veganism… ahhh! *Cue the eye rolls, covering of the ears or (hopefully) fist pumps*
Either way, veganism and travel do go hand and hand. The link for this blog post is soon to come– stay tuned.
That’s not what we’re here to discuss, though.
I’ve been vegan for about three years now and I’ve gone on two significant trips during that time. The first trip was to South America. More specifically, Chile for a year. The second was when I went across the United States on a bicycle with almost no money.
I ate well as a vegan, easily, on both trips.
I hear many people say (yes,–say– not ask), “Isn’t it hard to be vegan and travel?”
“Vegan in South America? Impossible.”
“Oh yeah, I want to go vegan. It makes sense. I just want to get some travel out of the way so that I’m not limited with food choices on my travels. I want to be able to eat everything.”
(A look into my thoughts: translate “everything” to “everyone”.)
And to all statements I say…Yes, you can! You should eat well and travel vegan.
Here are some tips on how to order while on the road.
I’ve been all across the U.S. and was surprised to find that some people don’t know what the word “vegan” means. It can be frustrating at first, but that’s okay. It’s a good opportunity to spread knowledge to others.
I’m not saying to drop the word entirely out of your vocabulary. I’m quite literally saying to drop the word when you go to restaurants or when preparing food with people who are unfamiliar with veganism.
They may think they know what it means and end up giving you something that you don’t want to consume. Explain what it is in full detail. This makes ordering crystal clear for them and worry-free for you!
If you already eat plant-based, you probably have already learned that many things are plant-based that aren’t labeled as such.
Oreos, for example.
(Classic example, I know. Almond milk’s favorite cookie!)
Search menus for things that may already be plant-based or that could easily be modified. Usually, every restaurant has veggies and fruits. They can often substitute vegetable oil for butter when cooking and make something for you that usually isn’t included on the menu.
When you do find something, let them know that you’re looking for it to be specifically free of flesh or anything else taken from animals.
Put side dishes together and come up with new combinations. Remember, there are more options beyond the set menu!
(What a strange thing for a vegan, animal-liberationist to say, right?)
There are different apps, websites, and resources to help you scout out the already-known vegan hot spots.
A simple Google Search with your location can bring up a whole new world of food, and the HappyCow app and website can be a great go-to references for searching as well.
Ask the locals! You never know what other veg-heads are around you that have the scoop on what you’re looking for.
To be completely honest, I’ve had more fun searching and finding yummy vegan-friendly restaurants (or restaurants that have some flesh-and-animal-product-free options) than I ever have in my pre-vegan life. The journey and the destination are both rewards in this situation!
When I wrote a first draft of this post, I included a whole bullet point on how it is OK to say that you have allergies to animal flesh and products when people just aren’t getting it. After having a partner review it and point out how that can be problematic, I realized what a mistake that would have been to publish.
It has been helpful for me, though, to share the part of truth about how consuming animal products or parts make me physically feel sick. People tend to take that seriously in the moment and chew on the other information that you’ve shared with in their own time and space.
Sharing truth is so necessary, but know that you don’t have to do it each time that someone questions your choices. Sometimes we need to save that energy for ourselves, and that is completely OK.
Do you want amplify the message of non-human animals and their suffering? Do you want to help people make the connection between the environment and eating plant-based?
I want to create spaces where we can share truth with others. I want to create spaces where we can connect in more raw and genuine ways to create compassion for others.
You, in fact, are the solution by living vegan.
Don’t forget that.
Order with confidence and clarity. Look for things that can be modified to align with your values. Don’t settle for less just because others around you may choose to feel uncomfortable.
You are choosing compassion. You are choosing a practice that honors respect for other’s bodily autonomy. You are choosing a way of life that aims to inflict minimal suffering to others—and that is not only something to stick to—but celebrate.
(thank you to Helen Otto, Michael Amani and Jocelyn Cole for all the ideas/edits that you contributed to this post!)