The traveling vegan

Like most of my fellow human beings, I love to travel. Everything about travel makes me feel so alive; new places, new people, new smells, new…FOOD! Food has to be one of the most unique things about travel. Truly “taking in” another culture. I used to think, like many people still do, that veganism was a hinderance to the experience of eating when traveling, but I now see how it is in fact the opposite!

One of the most fulfilling parts of my travel now is discovering local vegan food; what creations people have come up with. There are so many mouthwatering vegan restaurants I’ve had the opportunity to try and more just keep popping up! This way of eating my way through the world is the furthest thing from limiting. I’ve had tapas in Barcelona, francesinha (a delicious sandwich dish) in Portugal, cheese in France, Gyros in Greece…and the list goes on! Everywhere in the world people are taking traditional dishes and giving them a vegan twist, and the results are mouthwatering.  It is the perfect balance of experiencing a culture’s culinary delights and not having to sacrifice ethics along the way. Compassion is the tastiest ingredient, amiright?

Of course there have been and will be destinations that are a little less vegan “friendly” but then comes the fun challenge of ordering vegan at a non vegan restaurant (which I like doing even if there are vegan restos around). I remember once my friend Danielle was having her birthday dinner at a restaurant that had nothing on the menu remotely vegan but they ended up putting something together for me and it was absolutely delicious! I hope that experience showed them that there is a demand for this food. I should go see if they’ve added a vegan option to their menu! Another amazing part of eating vegan while traveling is the lovely, like-minded people you meet along the way. I’ve had such inspiring conversations and have learned so much about vegan culture around the world. I ALWAYS leave these businesses with a happy belly, totally buzzin’.

Happy Cow is a great resource for finding vegan/veg places to munch, or by just taking a walk you may stumble on one by accident. I was walking in Barcelona with my friend Katie and out of seemingly nowhere a chalkboard sign written “vegan burgers” popped up. Have more beautiful words ever been written? We ended up trying all 6 burgers on the menu and having a lovely chat with the owner, who is originally from the UK. The place is called Cat Bar, for anyone in Barca!

Often when I find myself in a discussion about veganism the person with whom I’m chatting will ask me about travel and how the two go together. (I work as a flight attendant, so travel is always in the mix.) Many of them say things like “I think I could be vegan/veggie but when I’m traveling I want to really experience the culture, like if someone invites me into their home, I don’t want to be rude or an imposition.” That was my mentality for a long time and I do still understand it! However, what veganism has shown me is that our dietary decisions are so much bigger than just diet, so much bigger than us. Animals, humans, and our home, Earth, are directly effected by these choices. So instead of looking at it as being an imposition or rude, one could instead see it as an opportunity to spread an important message, in a respectful way. Dialogue and conversation in life are so important, especially when you believe something to be morally right. The last thing the world needs is for you to keep it to yourself. This doesn’t mean going in hot and aggressive, but rather with compassion and understanding. As I’ve touched on in my blog post “Spreading the message” , everything is in communication and knowing when it’s the right time to speak up and how to do so effectively (something that is a continuous learning process for me). One of my favourite quotes is, “Always be the vegan you wish you met before you went vegan”. Listen, relate, empathize. We’re all in this together and having healthy debate is how change happens and is how we evolve.  As well, if you’re invited to someone’s home, you could bring a yummy vegan dish, and maybe (probably..definitely?) surprise some palates!

These conversations and new foods may open your host’s mind to ideas they had hitherto never thought about.  This can, and should always, be done with respect and love. By doing so, you’ll have successfully spread this important message, even if just subtly.

Traveling is an enriching experience in so many ways and veganism doesn’t take away from that, it makes it even richer! 😉 I hope these words have resonated with you and have maybe shown a new perspective!

I leave you with all my love as I take the final bite of a delicious brownie, sitting in a vegan restaurant I discovered in Orlando, FL.

Kayla