Staying Vegan on Vacation

So, you’ve made the wise decision to be an earth-protecting, animal-loving, plant-eating vegan.  You’ve stockpiled your kitchen with a variety of grains, legumes, seeds, fruits, and vegetables.  All seems well on the home front.  But, you can’t stay locked up in your house forever.  What will you do if you’re invited out to dinner by your carnivorous companions?  What happens when you go on vacation across the country to see relatives who maintain their position at the top of the food chain?  I recently experienced this first-hand while vacationing with family out West and thought that I should post some helpful tips for my vegan followers.  Vacationing should be fun.  Don’t let food get in the way of that.  Remember, we didn’t go vegan to live miserably.  We did so to live abundantly.
1.)  Let your friends and/or family know – Friends and family can be the greatest advocates in your quest for a healthier life.  You may choose to tell them why you became vegan or simply tell them that you no longer eat meat, eggs, cheese, and milk.  Telling them can free you of the negative pressure you may feel to eat their food.  After a few no-thank-yous, they will get the message and back off.  Remember that it is not your responsibility (or right) to tell them how they should eat.  But, it is your right to eat as you wish.   If you catch yourself preaching, back off and rethink your motives.  You are doing this for you, not them.  Once you are all on the same page, you may find them adjusting their eating choices to fulfill your needs.  If not, that’s okay too.  They may joke and pick a bit, but that’s normal.  By the end of my trip, my brother had actually located a vegan restaurant for us to dine at.  We all enjoyed it very much.
 2.) Take the necessities – Some foods are not widely available in grocery stores.  Some are just too expensive to be buying extra of.  Examples of these foods are Chia seeds, Spirulina, Soy Protein, Hemp Seeds, and Nutritional Yeast. If you are flying on a plane, remember that you can bring on food in a backpack or carry-on luggage.  I stocked mine up with nuts, bananas, apples, and pears.  (Added note:  Reserve your seat closest to the aisle.  We know how fiber works.)  Airline services don’t offer many plant-based options and the peanuts they do offer are usually contaminated with a coating of HFCS and/or preservatives.
I also recommend taking with you any gadgets, blenders, or utensils you may need to prepare your meals.  I use my Vitamix religiously.  I begin every morning with a kale smoothie and don’t plan on changing that because I’m not at home.  I saved a special spot in my luggage for it.  My family was pretty happy that I brought it after I made them a few smoothies.  I may have even made the Vitamix Co. some new customers.

3.) Research the location – See what health-food stores are available in the area.  You may be surprised at what you find.  I was amazed at what options were available in Arizona.  They seem to have caught on to the “health movement” a little quicker than my home state of North Carolina. With choices like Healthy Habit Health Foods, Trader Joes, Whole Foods, and Sprouts Farmers Market, I felt right at home.  Perhaps, better than home.  I headed for the produce aisle and loaded up on my favorite snacks to keep handy.

Chimichanga @ Poco Vegan Restaurant
I would also take note of the restaurants nearby.  While you can make almost any menu conform to our standards, it is far easier to find a Thai, Italian, Mexican, Japanese, or even Vegan eatery that will have choices already listed.  No one wants to be that guy (or girl) fitting together a menu like a jigsaw puzzle, looked on by SAD (Standard American Diet) eaters  salivating, waiting to order their fleshy steaks.  It just makes dining out feel awkward.  If you are not sure what is in a dish, please feel comfortable asking the waiter.  I found that they are more than helpful.  One waiter even brought out the chef because he was uncertain of the vegan options they offered.  People will help if you let them know your needs. (Note:  If you’re ever in Bisbee, AZ, Poco is the place to be.  They offer a complete menu of beautiful vegan dishes.)

4.) Keep in touch with your local supporters – Being around meat-eaters for any length of time can make you feel alone.  You may feel like the black sheep of the bunch.  You may even start to question your eating habits.  Worst-case, you start to slip back into old eating patterns.  Calling and reaching out to your vegan friends (VFFs) back home can strengthen your passion for vegan living.  With Facebook, we can “check-in” at restaurants and post pictures of what we are eating.  While your friends and family may not be excited about your food choices, your supporters will be.  They will cheer you on from a distance.  If you begin feeling frustrated, don’t take it out on the ones around you.  Call a VFF to talk it out with.  They understand you.

      5.) Don’t be hard on yourself – Don’t expect to be able to find all of your favorite veggies grown locally and organic in a foreign town or city.  While it isn’t impossible, it may not be practical.  Don’t waste precious vacation time trying to locate them.  I personally eat a Whole-Food, Plant-Based diet.  I typically buy everything in its rawest form, without additives, oils, or preservatives.  This is pretty easy to maintain, but I don’t burden myself with learning every detail of a menu.

Remember to keep it simple and continue your journey towards love, health, and freedom.  What we do for ourselves today, counts in all our tomorrows.

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