Sunday, January 8, 2012

Staying Vegan on Vacation

It's easy to "keep vegan" at home, where we do our own cooking. It's less easy in local restaurants, but if we ask a few questions, most are more than willing to veganize menu items that come close, like leaving the cheese off of something, or substituting tofu for meat. But what happens when a vegan goes on a little vacation to a foreign country, where said vegan doesn't speak the language? That's where it might get challenging.

We're going to a little family birthday celebration in Cabo San Lucas at the end of the month, and I'm already getting kind of nervous about food. As much as I love Mexico, and look forward to time with my kids and the ocean, I know it's going to be tricky to eat in restaurants there. Part of the joy and adventure of traveling is eating the local foods, and I really don't want to be a Food Nazi. Still, I believe in my vegan lifestyle, and intend to walk my talk. My strategy is to bring some favorite snacks from home, like nuts and dried fruit, Power Balls, grainy crackers, and instant miso soup, so not every meal has to be a restaurant ordeal. I can also buy fresh fruit and vegetables at the local market, and I'm doing some research ahead of time on veg-friendly restaurants. As it turns out, I'm not the only one this is important to. I found a few listings for vegetarian/vegan restaurants in Cabo on, which is surprising and encouraging! Now if they're actually still in business when I get there, I'll be happier than the cows I'm not eating.

I think I can do it, and even though I intend to leave my laptop at home, and just enjoy my sunny winter vacation, I will keep a camera and a notebook handy, and will report back when I get home. And one other thing... We're going for a party, and I will not ruin the party by being all icky picky about my food. If I end up eating a bit of cheese due to a language miscommunication (although I do know how to say no queso, por favor), it's not the end of the world, and I won't beat myself up over it. I'll do my best, which is all I can ask of anyone else.

The trip is still almost 3 weeks away, but I'm planning for it, dreaming of it, and so looking forward to it (except for the swimsuit part). I see it not only as a fun winter warm-up, but also as a challenge, sort of a personal and journalistic assignment. And I'm ready for it.

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