I loved traveling before I loved eating plants, and I have to admit I was a little bit nervous about how mainstream travel would mesh with my new way of eating. Would my beloved all-inclusive resorts and cruise ships be able to accommodate? I definitely had some worries, but found that there are some things I can "pack" with me on my travels to make the entire vacation more pleasurable. Don't fear mainstream travel - arm yourself with the following, get out into the world, and experience some awesome destinations.
A Great Attitude: In my daily life, I try to keep a smile on my face, warmth in my heart, and maintain kindness towards others even when it is trying to do so. Now, you might be wondering, how does this relate to traveling as a vegan? Well, we all know that at times, it can be somewhat challenging to be plant-based out of the safety of our own homes. Many omnivores don’t understand what it means to be plant-based (“…but it’s ground turkey, so it’s healthier!”), they think we are strange for not eating meat, eggs, and dairy, or they occasionally try to engage us in debates on health and nutrition that often feel more like attacks. I keep a smile on my face, try to find “teachable moments” to share my passion for eating plants, and lead by example. I can’t tell you how many times my deliciously colorful plant-filled plates have sparked meaningful conversations with travelers around me.
Patience: Many people, including members of my own family who have watched me eat plants for a couple of years now, don’t understand what it means to be “vegan” or “plant-based”. When talking about your dietary needs with cruise ship crew members, resort staff, etc. remember that English is the second (or third) language for most…so be a little forgiving as you converse! Also, it could take a bit to sort out your meals because you may be sent to speak to various people for making dining arrangements. Don’t worry - it will all be okay.
Flexibility : Anytime you travel, you’re going to have to make sacrifices and go with the flow – this goes for everyone, not just vegans! Even though many resorts, cruise lines, etc. are very accommodating, you’re still at the mercy of their restaurants and chefs, which means some days and meals might be easier or more delectable than others. As someone who used to be a big consumer of meat and dessert (particularly on cruise ships) I have really changed my outlook on eating (and vacation eating) in general. I now see food as fuel for my body to make it run as efficiently as possible, and while on vacation I now focus on the experiences I am having and not the gigantic plates of food in front of me. I remind myself that I am eating outstanding food that is nutritious and tasty, but I will be the one going home with lots of great memories and still feeling healthy!
The Mantra of Lindsay S. Nixon (The Happy Herbivore) - “Progress Not Perfection”: The Happy Herbivore was an awesome resource for me when I started following a plant-based diet, and I am a big fan of Lindsay. (She's great! I have met her!) I find her mantra, "progress not perfection" helps ease my mind when I am away from home. When I travel, I do the absolute best I can to be plant-based, but the fact of the matter is, we live in an imperfect world and unless the food is prepared by me in my vegan-friendly kitchen, sometimes there is a question mark hovering over my meal. Progress, not perfection…right? I ask questions, seek options, and am gracious toward those who help me have the healthiest plant-filled meal I can have. By doing so, I am ensured a fantastic vacation full of healthy and delicious plant meals! I know some may disagree with me on this and will be sure to only eat foods guaranteed to be 100% vegan-friendly, but we each have a different plant-filled path to follow. For me, doing the absolute best I can on vacation is something I am comfortable with.
Don't be afraid of mainstream travel!