Ever since my childhood, when I would sit on my dad’s lap and look through glossy coffee-table books full of photos of faraway places, I’d always wanted to explore the world. Shortly after college graduation, I took off on what I thought would be a six-month trip to Europe. Sixteen years later, that trip had taken me to all seven continents and nearly 100 countries, and each new destination opened up a door to yet another place that I’d never considered before.
When I first heard the arguments for veganism, they certainly made sense, but I didn’t think I’d ever be able to do it. I could cut down on animal products, sure, but I couldn’t maintain a vegan lifestyle all the time, and certainly not while I was travelling! Surely that would suck all the fun out of travel, and that’s IF it would even be possible to find vegan food in places like Russia or Mongolia, which I highly doubted.
And yet, the more I learned about the needless suffering of animals, and the more my heart opened up, the more I felt that becoming vegan was the only way to be true to who I really was and who I aspired to be. And so, on a three-week trip to Greece, I did a trial run. During that trip I did not consume any animal products, and I had the most wonderful culinary travel experience of my life. Where was all the deprivation?! Day after day, I tasted one new dish after another, each more delicious than the last. I slowly came to the realization that vegan options had been in abundance all along, everywhere I’d gone on my travels; I just hadn’t seen them because I hadn’t been looking for them.
Ever since that first day in Greece, I have continued to follow a vegan lifestyle, which is to say that I am finally living in a way that is aligned with the values of peace, non-violence and compassion that I held all along. While it’s impossible to be perfect in an imperfect world, I do everything I can to avoid causing any living beings to suffer. This means not exploiting them for entertainment, not using products tested on them in cruel experiments, and not eating them.
I’ve travelled to quite a few places since that trip to Greece. Far from being a hindrance, being vegan has actually enhanced my travel experiences, giving them new purpose. Each day on the road is a treasure hunt as I seek out naturally vegan local specialties. We each have our own mental blocks, our own excuses for not going vegan. For me, that excuse was travel. My mission now is to help remove that stumbling block for others and to show everyone how fun and fulfilling vegan travel is.
Special thanks to Butterflies Katz
for including this essay in her compelling collection
highlighting diversity amongst vegans: