Since Danielle got you up to speed on some pertinent summer reading for the avid activist, I thought I’d bring up some tips for the vegan traveler – so that you have the perfect place to sit back, chillax and enjoy your enlightening reads.
There are a plethora of Web sites, travel companies and destinations that strive to cater to vegan travelers. Check out the thorough list on vegforlife.org. It contains everything from vegan B&Bs and green travel companies to eco-conscious lodges.
This vegan cruise – A Taste of Health – looks particularly intriguing. If their menu doesn’t grab you (seitan paella, kasha cabbage roll with mustard sauce), then maybe their presentations will. That menu includes talks on the benefits of veg eating, breath work for stress relief and vitality (great for avoiding activist burnout!), and vegan cooking classes. Their Web site also boasts that a portion of the cost goes to animal protection organizations.
If you’re a land-lover, and interested in traveling abroad, the options are endless. For those skeptics who never thought it was possible to be vegan in France, check this out.
As for me, I just got back from a lovely vacation to the very vegan Vancouver, which was preceded by an awe-inspiring trip to Portland, where I spoke at the Let Live Northwest Animal Rights Conference. Vancouver’s vegan-friendliness blew my mind, and I’m not quite sure if it’s just a well-kept secret, or if I’m living under a giant rock. Regardless, there were some real treats. Every corner hot dog stand, for example, has a veggie dog option. Even the snack shack at Jericho Beach had veggie dogs. But perhaps the most amazing surprise was the fancypants hotel, The Westin Grand, whose menu featured 100 percent vegan cupcakes! Upon looking further, I realized that about half the menu there was vegan. And not hold-the-cheese-vegan, either; there were dishes that had faux meat, and others that centered around plant-based deliciousness. I nearly wept.
The point is, traveling as a vegan is easy – sometimes, even surprisingly so! My friend, David – who also happens to be Farm Sanctuary’s New York Advocacy Organizer – told me a story about how he was staying in Spain in the pre-Internet days (remember those?) and couldn’t find anything vegan to eat. When he finally found his way to the Net, he realized that all the time that he was in Spain, there was a knock-your-socks-off vegan restaurant two blocks from where he was staying. Nowadays, with amazing sites dedicated to vegan restaurants – such as my favorite, HappyCow.net – traveling cruelty-free could not be simpler. There’s even an application that you can download for your iPhone, called VegOut, which automatically maps the veg restaurants near you, wherever you are!
This summer, when you’re traveling, one thing to keep in mind is that reticence is for lazy people. So if you are in a veg-friendly restaurant/hotel/lodge/ship/plane/train/resort, be vocal about your appreciation! And certainly, if you sought out the establishment because of its veg-friendliness, let the owners know that, and also mention how you heard about them.
And if you’re at a location that is not veg-friendly, be sure to talk to the owner or manager. Let them know that you’re traveling and that it would really make a big difference (not to mention drum up their business) if they added some vegan items to their menu. Show them that there’s a demand. If everyone did that, we’d have veggie hot dogs coming out of our ears.
As we continue to revamp and revitalize our Veg for Life program, we need your feedback! So throughout your travels, this is your mission, should you choose to accept it: If you have an experience similar to the one I had at the Westin, where there was vegan food a-plenty, let us know! Or if you speak with the owner or manager of a particular hotel regarding adding vegan items to menus, let us know that too! We want your feedback so that we can work with these hotels to offer more and more vegan options. I look forward to hearing from you!
I hope your summer travels are safe, fun and vegan.