I am often asked what it is like to travel the world as a vegan. Being vegan can come with challenges anywhere but I would never say that it is impossible or even difficult. Our planet is filled with an abundance of wonderful foods, none of which need to contain animal-products. When on the road it can be difficult to cook for myself so I often have to rely on restaurants. Before I head out to a new country I make a point of learning some key phrases in the local language. Right after learning “hello”, “please” and “thank you” I learn “no meat”, “no fish”, “no eggs” and “no milk”. More times than not people are happy to accommodate the requests of the friendly foreigner and often step up to the challenge by making something extra special. Often people around the world are intrigued by veganism and want to learn more about the ethics behind it, the health benefits and even swap recipes. Often by just ordering a meal in a restaurant I am able to spread some new ideas and ways of eating.
I love experiencing different cultures and I am an advocate of the old cliché, “When in Rome do as the Romans do….” but I do not believe that being on the road is a good enough reason to forego ones ethics and it certainly does not justify allowing others to suffer to satisfy a cultural experience. In fact, there is more reason to not consume or purchase animal products when travelling. So many countries around the world lack animal welfare laws and enforcement. Without any regulations on how animals are treated it is often a horrific life and death for these innocent creatures. I have travelled to numerous countries that have absolutely no regard for animal welfare, where free range and cruelty-free products are an unheard of western fantasy. For those that may not be vegan or vegetarian but who do care about the lives of animals and are concerned for their well being it is impossible to have control over these things while travelling. Therefore, it is more important for those of us who do not want to contribute to animal suffering to avoid animal products in foreign lands.
When I am asked what it is like to travel as a vegan, I answer that it is comforting knowing that I am not contributing to the cruelty that exists in the countries that I am visiting. Whatever effort I may have to go through to ensure that my food is cruelty-free is worth it.