“So what do you do when you travel?” I was asked about being vegan/vegetarian. To someone who is none of these, it seems like the craziest idea ever. Something out-there and almost impossible ) Have I thought the same myself? Probably, not… However, now I definitely know that it is much easier to be vegan/vegetarian in the “western” world and much more socially acceptable, like actually thinking you are normal for doing so.
When I first became vegetarian, my family thought it was a temporary phase and dismissed its seriousness by trying to lure me back into their version of “normal”. After all, I was not that much serious myself. Picking meat from my soup and pizza, or eating only a layer of lasagna ) As if trying to tip-toe around it and figure out how to actually make it possible for me, and what my options are from this point on. Turns out there is a whole other world out there, full of many yummy options and different flavors, and I think every vegan/vegetarian has similar stories.
The truth is it has never been only about food, at least for me, it was a combination of factors that led me to this decision. I majored in International Studies, and no wonder why it was one of my favorite subjects, besides Italian, obviously ) Also, I was fortunate enough to have had outstanding professors who with their stories from travels around the world, questions, discussions, essays and reading assignments made the subject matter and classes as interesting, informative, interactional, thought-provoking, worth-while and even entertaining as could be. With many important and relevant topics raised and discussed, ranging from globalization, global economy, Equal Rights and animal rights, environmental and social issues, sustainability to what is considered natural and organic.
Being a vegetarian might require more effort on my part, especially during travels, since it is not that common and “normal” in all parts of the world, at least not yet, and, apparently, not everyone is even aware of what it is, but this is the choice I am willing to make. When it comes to being a vegetarian, for me it goes beyond just the choices on my plate, it is way further… by thinking how interconnected everything in the world is, and how my choices matter.
We all hear: Rethink. Reuse. Recycle. But is it actually enough any more? For me, it means forgoing plastic altogether and all the unnecessary packaging and materials, if possible, which is definitely way better than recycling, especially when living where it is not that common and advanced as in some European countries and US communities. Also, adopting fix-it mentality, choosing eco-conscious and eco-friendly products and companies, shopping at local produce markets and independent stores, checking those ingredients and labels, opting out for herbal remedies and solutions, using public means of transportation, if possible, while definitely promoting and supporting clean energy and technologies, respecting nature and supporting preservation of eco-systems. Most importantly, thinking before I get something new, knowing that it is long-term, and respecting animal rights enough by choosing to see them in their natural habitat. The friendly ones… )
It might not seem that big of a deal, but every day we vote. We vote with our money, our energy and our choices: what products and items we buy and what companies and causes we choose to support. Traveling or not, I cast my vote every day for a healthier, eco-conscious, eco-friendly, just and a more sustainable world.
Looks like my on-again-off-again relationship with vegetarianism through the years is here to stay, and this time for my own version of blissful-ever-after.
Are you a vegan/vegetarian? Or are you thinking about becoming one? And what is your way of traveling while staying true to your eco-values?
All opinions and experiences are, as always, my own.
Liberty, Peace, Love, Bliss…