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Quitting Veg for travel.

DavidAM

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  • Added on: April 17th, 2010
I see there are quite a few vegetarians/vegans on these boards and I think that's awesome. I've been lacto-ovo for about a year now and the ultimate goal is to be mostly raw Vegan. HOWEVER! I have dreams of traveling Round the World and I know that part of experiencing the culture is eating the food. Plus not a lot of cultures understand vegetarianism, let alone Veganism, and so unless you're in a major city it could potentially be really tough to find vegetarian fare. I think I've sort of come to terms with the fact that I may end up eating meat again when I travel. If someone offers me beef stew, how can I turn it down? If someone offers me fermented fish I may end up having to try some. I may try and stick to mostly vegetarian fare though, but I'm not gonna be evangelical about it like some people tend to be. So I'm just wondering if there were others out there who ended up giving up their vegetarianism to REALLY experience a culture? I watch Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern a lot on Travel channel and they do actually intrigue me a bit.
"Change is the essence of life. Be willing to surrender what you are for what you could become."

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Timmie

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  • Added on: April 17th, 2010
David, I felt compelled to respond to this post as well as the other. A couple of years ago I was a candidate for Peace Corp service, which did not pan-out. But that is another story. But it was necessary to write in detail how my eating habits would be affected if insufficient protein, unless in the form of animal flesh, happened to be available where I served. Of course it was an easy decision. I said that my health would take precedence over my currently meat-less diet. I stated that I was willing to alter my diet for two years if necessary and during my upcoming trip, which I hope lasts nearly as long, I will if need be, do the same, for what may be a variety of reasons.
"Whatever you can or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it". Goethe

Zuleika

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  • Added on: April 18th, 2010
I'm vegetarian, have been for 20 years and no I didn't alter my diet when I travelled. I could never eat meat and didn't in the slightest way feel compelled to, totally nothing to do with culture. I didn't have any trouble apart from the Australian outback which was the most difficult of any country I went to - lived on crisp sandwiches! The Philippines was quite difficult too, although I managed.
I didnt feel I missed out on any 'culture'!

I guess it all depends on how committed you are and why. If its that easy for you to start eating meat why bother giving up in the first place.
Life is such an adventure, I can't wait to live it some more.

Curt1591

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  • Added on: April 18th, 2010
You are correct. Food is a very big part of a people's culture and abstaining from animal products will affect that to a degree. But, it is not that difficult to do.

Timmie

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  • Added on: April 18th, 2010
I'd like to elaborate on my post. As I stated in the other subject regarding dietary habits, I've been eating a meatless diet for more than 30 years. My motivation was not ethical. But I do strongly feel that the decisions I make should be mine alone. Now if I may give an example of just one situation that would cause me to eat meat, if only one time. Lets suppose that in my travels I'm invited to join a family in dinner and that to them having a guest is quite an honor and that meat, in whatever form, is considered a special event, my hosts being somewhat of limited means. Do I risk offending these hosts, giving them a negative opinion of myself and whomever I represent or do I bend the rules for such a short time and ensure that all of us, myself and my hosts, come away with a pleasant and lasting encounter? There are many reasons, I'm sure that one can honor the cultural aspect of a particular location. It's possible that the original poster had this in mind. Myself, I can say that as I've gotten older, I have learned not to be so militant as far as my beliefs and opinions. I respect what others do as I expect them to do for me. I do admit that the example I gave is hypothetical, but I always seem to think ahead in the event that I am in a situation that requires a bold decision.
Last edited by Timmie on April 20th, 2010, edited 1 time in total.
"Whatever you can or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it". Goethe

Curt1591

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  • Added on: April 18th, 2010
Try not drinking alcohol in celebration! :o

seraphim

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  • Added on: April 19th, 2010
When I went to visit my mother-in-law in Ivory Coast, she said she was sad she couldn't afford to slaughter a cow on my behalf, as that's what you're supposed to do. I was kinda glad - I'm not a vegetarian but don't eat much meat either, and certainly couldn't eat a whole cow :shock: Anyway, I'm with Timmie that it could be kind of rude to say you won't eat it in such a situation.

As far as not drinking alcohol: just say you're a muslim? Or you have health reasons not to drink?
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DavidAM

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  • Added on: April 20th, 2010
I actually gave up meat for health reasons and it sort of turned into an ethical and environmental thing as I progressed with it. However, knowing that one day I will travel RTW, I've concluded that it's probably best if I was a little lenient. It's not like I'm gonna go back to my old eating habits of stopping in at McDonalds in Beijing for two Big Macs, large fries and a soda every other day. But it's like Timmie said... if I was ever offered something or if I had no other means of a proper vegetarian meal, I'm not gonna starve myself till I find some produce. If there's an interesting dish being served, I'll try a little bit of it. Don't misunderstand me, please. To be honest, I'd probably eat 90-95% vegetarian on the road anyway.
"Change is the essence of life. Be willing to surrender what you are for what you could become."

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Curt1591

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  • Added on: April 23rd, 2010
seraphim wrote: .....

As far as not drinking alcohol: just say you're a muslim? Or you have health reasons not to drink?


I simply don't drink. No excuses, other than personal choice. I have yet to find anyone who hasn't taken me at my word. :abzv:

"Joining in" will be a personal choice. All cultures have members who are vegetarian.

halfnine

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  • Added on: April 23rd, 2010
Depending on where you travel and how you travel, you could end up with the possibility of eating with a local family where you are the guest of honor. Not only could you end up being served meat and/or alcohol but you could also have the honor of slaughtering the animal. Having religious convictions (whether real or imaginary) that prevent you from partaking in those events would likely give you the best chance of not insulting your hosts. In my experience most people tend to respect other people's religious convictions irregardless of how foreign they might be to them. But, if you don't partake based on personal convictions, it is likely they won't get it at all and will risk offending your hosts.

Curt1591

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  • Added on: April 24th, 2010
My mistake!

Zuleika

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  • Added on: April 25th, 2010
Actually Curt - I'm with you, I have travelled extensively - over 50 countries and still counting. I'm a veggie - and never had a problem. Never had to eat meat. Never felt pressured to do so, Never offended anyone with not eating meat - to my knowledge anyway. I'm always up front about it though, tell the hosts way in advance - so no extensive meal that has taken ages to make is dished up to me, and no goat killed etc!
Life is such an adventure, I can't wait to live it some more.

Wild Jasmyne

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  • Added on: June 22nd, 2010
I think that you can absolutley be vegetarian when you travel. In fact I became a vegetarian while I was in Kenya because it was basically my only option and it carried over after my trip. I have since gone back to my old ways but I see every day living here in Mali how easy it would be if I didn't eat meat. Especially in Africa where many people cannot afford to eat meat. In Togo they eat a lot of fish, but their diet is also based a lot on Cassava plant, spaghetti with tomato sauce, and black eyed peas. My husband is Togolese and I eat this almost every day for lunch without meat. In Kenya I ran into a lot of collard greens, ugali (ground maize made into a thick paste/pudding thing), and other veggies. If you want to stay vegetarian, you can absolutley do it. If you are invited over for dinner, tell your hosts you are vegetarian - if they actually want you to come they will find alternatives for you. I don't think you have to "succumb" to eating meat unless you are trapped in the bush and have to kill your own cape buffalo to eat. I really think you will be just fine. if you CHOOSE to eat meat however, that is of course your business. And there are things I really wouldn't want to miss like the fresh prawns in Togo or a big fish caught just minutes before. That said there are certain meats I absolutley stay away from while traveling here in Africa. I am totally off beef.. seeing the cows eating trash in the streets is enough for me not to mention the countless episodes of gut rot/diahrrea I have gotten from questionable beef. Also I am largely not interested in chicken because it's just not as good, a lot of times it is really old birds with rubbery feel or you find out the chicken has been stored for several days and not quite good for eating. Of course I make exceptions for things like Bla Bla (a fantastic restaurant in Bamako), but for the most part I am off beef and chicken here by choice and it really is not that hard at all. Anyway, good luck with that RTW!
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KnottyNikki

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  • Added on: June 23rd, 2010
I went off being a veg for travel, but I was a vegetarian not because I find something ethically wrong with eating animals, but for health reasons, a major part of which involved the food laws here in the US. Bleh! It's incredible how much power the meat and dairy producers have here, absolutely appalling how they buy out Congress. But I digress. Basically, I was on strike against US-produced meat.

But that did not mean I could not enjoy a beef goulash in Hungary or a bratwurst in Germany. Since I've come back to the US, I've gone back to about 95% veg--the occasional chicken in a stir fry or salad, and that's about it. But always locally-raised meat--I know the farmers I buy my meat from and have seen their animals. I know that's not always possible in a more urban environment, but the slow food/local food movement I think is a good one, both economically and health-wise. And, of course, the animals enjoy their lives a bit more and taste better as a result. :)

But there's no need to be militant about your food beliefs. After all, if you don't want people forcing a steak on you, then they don't want you forcing your PETA craziness on them.

Hmm, my wanderings have come to this conclusion: eat whatever the heck you feel like eating. You only live once. Do whatever will make you happiest.
“What is the feeling when you're driving away from people, and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing?-it's the too huge world vaulting us, and it's good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.”~Kerouac

AmazingJulesVerne

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  • Added on: June 24th, 2010
I was a vegetarian for ten years and then I went to Italy and ate every kind of specialty cured meat available. I never felt badly about it and thoroughly enjoyed myself the entire time.

When I returned home, I missed all of those delicious meats and the fun times I had with people while sitting around the table so I sought out all of the best import markets in town to try to locate some of those delicacies. Turns out I never went back to being a full time vegetarian since that time.

Many of my vegetarian friends have given me endless amounts of crap about my barbaric meat eating ways but I really don't care. I eat what I want because I enjoy eating tasty food. Ultimately, I agree with the idea that food is a big part of travel and it's inherent cultural experience. Why would you want to miss out on that?

Travel, too, is about being open minded. Is it open minded to dogmatically cling to vegetarianism, unless it really is for health reasons?

Side story: One of my pals traveled through South America for over a year and, at one point, stayed in a small village for several months. She helped out around the village with child care and other kinds of activities and became very close with all of the people there. She is quietly vegan and never had any problems finding what she wanted to eat but never proselytized her veganism as some people annoyingly do.

On the very last day of her stay in this village, a party was thrown in her honor. As the guest of honor, she was asked to slaughter the goat for the feast, using, of course, a very large knife applied to the animal's throat. She was very anxious about this task but then decided that it was an honor and that she should do it. At the very least, she would have an amazing story to tell about the experience. At the most, it was a very big deal that she was asked to do this as, she found out later, no woman in this village was ever allowed to slaughter animals -- that was a man's job. You can see that this was a huge honor, then, that she was asked to perform this task.

She slaughtered the goat.

Afterward, to celebrate, the men painted the blood on her face and cut off the horns and gave them to her. Five years later, she has one of the coolest maté 'gourds' ever -- the goat horn was made into a maté drinking vessel for her (which is a whole other story)! She does not at all regret her decisions to participate and to eat the goat and would have felt terribly had she refused to do it, especially after she discovered what a truly great honor had been bestowed upon her in the asking.
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