Confessions of Traveling Vegan

a good vegan meal of lentil stew and brown rice

A few months ago I decided to begin eating vegan.  I love the purity of the vegan diet.  No meat, no dairy, no cheese, no eggs, no animal products of any kind.  To me, it wasn’t about what I was saying no to, but what I was saying yes to.  Whole grains, gobs of vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans and legumes which is basically the foundation of every anti-cancer, anti-heart disease (both run in my Dad’s side of the family), anti-whatever-is-bad-for-you diet.  But becoming vegan right before our Summer travels made me a little nervous.  Would I be able to keep it up?  Find good food?  I have to be honest, being vegan is not that hard at home when you can control the ingredients coming in your house, but outside of the home it is harder.  The biggest hurdles?  Surprisingly, for me they are butter and honey.  Vegans don’t eat honey because it comes from an animal- therefore an animal product.  I’m on the fence with that one, because I really like honey and truly believe that raw local honey can be a good, even health beneficial replacement for refined sugar.  And butter is not that big of a deal because I buy non-dairy butter, but eating out I realize that pretty much everything is probably cooked with a little butter.  Even being as safe as I can and ordering vegetables, beans and a potato out at a restaurant, I’m pretty certain the veggies were cooked with butter and the potato comes with butter already on it.  I could ask for no butter, but then my taste-buds might stage a revolt against me.  I mean, I want to eat yummy things too.  That being said, I haven’t even ventured into my travels yet.  So, I have to admit, I have some confessions to make…

So far I love eating vegan, I love how fresh, light and satisfying vegan meals can be, but besides not always having access to vegan meals when eating out, there is something else.  There is, of course, the desire to throw away all my convictions and pull up a chair to a plate of something meaty, buttery and cheesy.  As far as traveling goes, I was doing pretty well.  I brought some vegan snacks with me for the plane (peanut butter, vegan granola bars, crackers) and even requested a vegan meal for the plane ride (which wasn’t too bad actually, although too spicy) but when I arrived in Scotland, I was weary, tired and very hungry from traveling and just wanted a comforting meal, I didn’t really care what it was.  I underestimated my relationship with food.  No matter how much we try to distance ourselves emotionally from what we eat, I’m convinced it can’t be done.  Eating is as much a social, emotionally, and cultural event, as it is a physical one.  Sometimes a salad and some beans just won’t cut it when you need something deeply warming and filling.  So the first week I was here I wasn’t really sticking to a vegan diet.  At first I was more vegetarian since I incorporated butter and dairy (Dairy inside of food that is) but one night I even sat down to a fish dinner with my husband!  Now I really don’t have a lot of bad things to say about meat, fish and dairy.  I like them.  I have just chosen to not eat  them so I can focus on eating other good for you foods, but it had been so long since I had incorporated them into my diet, that it actually made my stomach hurt for a while.  So back to being vegan as much as I can.

Although traveling vegan can be tricky, I have had some small successes.  I’ve learned that if I see something on the menu that I like I can ask the waiter if they would leave off the cheese or something else to make it vegan, and I’ve never had anyone say no.  Yesterday I went into this cute little cafe.  It was so lovely.  Scones and cakes looked delicious under the glass.  Organic goodies were everywhere.  Tea and coffee were being made in the back.  I asked her if any of the treats were vegan.  She said no, but that she would bake something vegan this week and told me to come back!  I talked to her a little bit and turns out she was trying out being vegetarian for 30 days.  How awesome is that?  Of course this was a little, privately owned shop- you probably couldn’t walk into a Starbucks and get that same kind of service.

So there you are.  I’m a vegan who sometimes eats butter or cheese and even meat…I am still passionate about a vegan lifestyle, but it’s hard living in a world that revolves around meat and cheese.  And I don’t want to become a social outcast for the sake of my food choices.  If I’m hungry and there is truly nothing vegan around (although that is almost never the case, you can always find something vegan) you can bet I am going to eat something anyway.  I love this quote from Alicia Silverstone’s The Kind Diet on being vegan, “It’s a journey, not a destination,” and I always remember that.

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10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Walking The Rough Road
    Jul 10, 2012 @ 02:24:12

    A vegan lifestyle is tough but if anyone can do it I know you can. It sounds like you are choosing vegan more for the healthy side rather than the animal rights side which is fine. Vegans I know wont eat honey because of the fact it is an animal product (bee vomit yum!). they wont even wear wool or leather. But its their choice. I could never leave out honey simply because its one of those ‘magic’ foods (OK I call it a magic food). Its because of all the healthy benefits of it. Its an antibiotic, anti-fungal, sugar substitute, has a lot of nutrients in it, great for allergies plus much more. I don’t think you are bad for eating an animal every now and then. I’m proud of you for wanting to live a more healthy lifestyle! We will have to get together and swap recipes. we can always veganize or paleoize to fit our needs. I’m glad you are enjoying your trip and I am so thrilled you got to taste some European goodness!

    Reply

    • thegentlehome
      Jul 10, 2012 @ 10:40:42

      Thanks for the encouragement! It really helps! It’s true what you said about honey. And I know those animals rights people are very “anti-violence” but if you buy honey from local bees on a farm where the care takers use sustainable methods and care about the bees, how can that be bad? I don’t think it is. Yes, I’m really getting into cooking! Especially different flavors from around the world!

      Reply

  2. Mimi
    Jul 10, 2012 @ 03:19:07

    Funny, I just watched Vegucated last week, and this has been on my mind. I was vegetarian for two years without much trouble, but when I got pregnant, I was revolted by the smell of cooked vegetables and craved meat. It’s been hard to cut it out since then. Veganism is definitely appealing but also hard in this world, as you pointed out. I do believe that you should be eating in a sustainable manner, and in a manner that is respectful of the life God created. I wish you the best of luck in your journey, and look forward to reading more. It’s always so nice to see your thoughts. Hope you are having a great time in Scotland!

    Reply

    • thegentlehome
      Jul 10, 2012 @ 10:45:30

      Thanks so much! Thanks for spending time in my little blog space 🙂 I love each and every reader and comment! That’s interesting about not wanting veggies when pregnant, that happened to my sister-in-law too. And I think it’s ok because you’re growing a little life, and they need so much nutrients and calories! I wonder what will happen when we have another little one- if I will stick to a vegan diet, or maybe vegetarian or maybe none of the above! I have never heard of Vegucated, I will have to check it out!

      Reply

  3. manyflowers
    Jul 10, 2012 @ 22:16:43

    I think a Vedic diet is actually vegan with honey and clarified butter. that’s the diet they serve at my daughter’s university. I’m so glad you are exploring and experiencing new things!

    Reply

  4. Booksphotographsandartwork
    Jul 13, 2012 @ 02:13:41

    You are doing a great job. The only thing that gets in my way is sweets. I don’t mind eating the dairy stuff but I would be thinner if I didn’t. Meat is no problem as it makes me want to throw up. I absolutely can’t stand the taste of it. Except fried chicken, that is my downfall.

    Reply

    • thegentlehome
      Jul 13, 2012 @ 10:38:16

      Thanks! Yes, I have a big sweet tooth too, so it bothers me that pretty much every kind of bread product has eggs or milk in it! I can’t wait to get back home so I can do my own baking. 🙂

      Reply

  5. Liesl
    Jul 15, 2012 @ 21:27:11

    Sounds like you’re a flexitarian. 😉

    I’m in a similar boat. After being a strict vegan for a few years, about two years ago I started to eat eggs and dairy again—only if I knew they came from sources where the animals are treated humanely. I’ve even been thinking of adding a little meat to my diet!

    I’ve found eating vegan is really easy if you eat home cooked meals a lot. The only time it gets difficult is if you eat out—which I don’t. Everyone has to figure out what works for them and what they feel comfortable doing.

    Honey is a hot topic among vegans. I’ve pretty much always eaten it. In the very beginning I avoided it because I wasn’t sure how I felt about it, but then I realized I would be comfortable eating it. They say raw, local honey is great for you if you’ve got allergies (something about it putting a little bit of the local pollens and things into your system so your body gets used to them and hopefully your allergies lessen up.)

    Reply

    • thegentlehome
      Jul 16, 2012 @ 07:56:10

      I have heard of that term “flexitarian”! But I don’t really like it, bc it feels like just a way to be lazy or indecisive! But I feel like I’m similar to what you have done- although not a strict vegan by any means, I’m still trying to figure out what I feel comfortable eating. I feel like when you focus on meat the way we do here, all the yummy goodness of plant based foods get pushed to the side. So maybe a diet that is more like “plant centered” would be appropriate. Not excluding some animal products but the main focus is basically a vegan diet.

      Reply

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