Friday, April 28, 2006

Veganism and traveling

I know, that's the point of the whole blog. But bear with me.

I do not claim to be an expert on veganism (or on travel, for that matter). I decided to go vegan last January, so, what, 15-ish months ago? I don't know the exact date of my decision, since it was a non-committal, "I'll try it out and see how it goes" sort of thing. But even in that short amount of time, it seems like a lot of people wonder/ask/tell me that veganism is too hard for them, especially with regards to traveling. Hell, I fell into that trap when I went to Ethiopia... everyone told me "veganism will be too hard, it's such a meat-loving country". That couldn't be farther from the truth! Veganism is so easy, especially when you've got that pesky little conscience ruining your animal-derived meals. Okay, sure, there are some things that get a little frustrating -- Why must they put casein in every goddamn thing, for example. But, with a little bit of forethought (not even planning, just consciousness), flexibility, and some self-confidence, every vegan can be perfectly happy, no matter where in the world they happen to be.

As Bob and Jenna say in their book, Vegan Freak, over and over again, "Meek vegans suffer" (I'm not even going to look for a page reference, because I remember seeing it so many times!). You just need to speak up and let the appropriate people know that you are vegan and what that means. Case in point: tomorrow I am getting inducted into this honorary that has a chapter at my school. The induction includes a dinner. Immediately after I rsvp-ed, I emailed the contact person to make sure they were planning on having a vegan option at dinner. After a few emails back and forth, where I offered suggestions and they gave me a tentative menu, I think I'm all set. Dining services is veganizing all of the side dishes, as well as adding a sauteed veggie dish for me, and making sure to have fresh fruit available for dessert (veganizing baked goods is a different battle for a different day). I wrote two emails, and I'm being accommodated. In the event that the food sucks, or there isn't much, I'm going to have some food in the car, or make my parents buy me some Rice Dream from the little shop on campus. And if it sucks, I'm not going to get all pissy and uptight about it. It is what it is, and sulking won't change it. Flexibility, see? And whether the food is good or not, I'm going to get drunk afterwards, but that is completely irrelevant.

It's the same idea for events that aren't planned like this one. Let's say you're going on a trip, but you're worried that there won't be much vegan food where you're going. Plan ahead a little. If you're flying, book a vegan meal with your ticket, and call to confirm the day before you fly. Bring snacks! Airplane food usually sucks, and you don't want to starve, so bring a few things. If it's a road trip, bring a cooler full of yummy sammiches and fruits and veggies and stuff. If you're going to a country where the language isn't your own, bring along the Vegan Passport, or at least learn a few key phrases in the local language--"I am vegan", "I do not eat meat, fish, eggs, dairy, honey, etc". Check out the restaurant guides at Happy Cow and VegDining. Google "vegetarian restaurant [place name] and see if there is a local guide. If you're a stickler about vegan alcohol (I am, but not everyone is), look around to see if you can get a list of local vegan wines and beers. Colin pointed me to this list of mostly Australian alcohol.

In short, there are tons of online resources about traveling as a vegan. Google it. I dare you. I don't know everything there is to know, and I never will. But even with my little teeny slice of the knowledge pie (mmm, pie), I don't think being vegan is hard at all. Basically, if you aren't vegan because you think it will be too hard, well, suck it up and go for it. There are plenty of other reasons people have, but I don't want to talk about them right now. And, it's my damn blog, so I do what I want.

Cheers :-D


Theresa said...

Uuuupdate: The food at that induction thingie was uh-mazing. And the dining services workers walked me through every single item on the buffet, telling me what I could and couldn't eat. YUM!

c. avolve said...


ps: your a saucy pirate ;)