Is traveling as a Vegetarian an issue? Well, I remember it like it was yesterday; a random message straight into my inbox (which then magically proceeded straight into my junk box):
“I watched your YouTube video ‘50 Things About Me‘ and saw that you were vegetarian. I’m going to tell you a little story because I think it’s stupid that you’re vegetarian. This one time I was traveling in Spain. Whilst there, I was pretty hungry one day and couldn’t find anything open as it was a Sunday. Hot, tired and bothered, I stumbled upon an older couple sitting outside their home. They could see how weary I was and quickly invited me into their home. The lady quickly offered me some cured ham. Can you even imagine how sad that lady would have been had I said no to her lovely cured ham slices.” Right, okay. I didn’t even know where to start with this one! For starters, like, what even: So is Traveling as a Vegetarian actually an issue?
I’ve been vegetarian for the best part of ten years now, and, of course, I’ve been traveling on and off for most of that time! But, before you run away and start thinking I’m ‘one of those‘, and that I’m going to force feed you my beliefs, don’t panic. Please just hear me out first. This post is not about ‘why you should be vegetarian’ per se, but more of an exploration into whether traveling as a vegetarian is an issue. So if one of your goals for this year was to reduce your environmental impact, or eat more healthily, then I’m here to address all of your concerns!
Is Traveling as a Vegetarian an Issue? – The short answer!
So what would my short answer be? No, traveling as a vegetarian is definitely not an issue. Even when traveling and living in France, one of the meat eating capitals of the World, I didn’t really encounter any issues. More and more people are opening up to the idea of vegetarianism, and as globalization continues, more and more people are realizing that a plant-based diet is the most sustainable one.
Better for the environment.
When I tell people I’m a vegetarian, I’m often met with a reaction along the lines of “Oh, I had no idea. You don’t seem very preachy about it”. To be honest, most of my closest friends often forget that I’m vegetarian and I have to subtly remind them before attending a dinner or whatever. The truth is that while I became vegetarian for the simple reason that I dislike the taste of meat, in the past few years I’ve realized that it’s one of the best ways to help preserve this beautiful planet of ours.
The Worldwatch Institute claims that up to 51% of carbon emissions come straight from the meat and dairy industries. While this figure may seem astronomical, even low estimates place carbon emissions from husbandry at 18%. This means that at least 1/5 of carbon emissions come from meat and dairy farming. So, a lot! I love our beautiful planet and want it to stay beautiful so that future generations can explore and witness what we’ve been lucky enough to experience.
Better for you.
I know that people will debate me on this one, but the studies generally show that a plant-based diet is generally better for you than a meat based one. Human bodies weren’t designed to eat meat at every meal time. We may be omnivores but this doesn’t mean that we should be cramming animal products into our body at every available opportunity. Recent studies have suggested that eating too much meat and cheese on a regular basis can be as bad for you as smoking. As someone who loves traveling, I want to stay healthy so that I can keep exploring for as long as possible!
Food is generally cheaper.
Apart from a few places I’ve traveled to (I’m looking at you, France), the vegetarian or vegan options are almost always cheaper than their meat counterparts. On average, I always pay around 10% than my meat eating friends when we go out for a meal. And the more you save eating, the more you can put towards your next travel fund!
You can easily get by…
I have to admit that there are some occasions where there’s been ‘no meat free’ option. There have been times where there’s been no bean stew or tofu option, but that hasn’t really bothered me much. Missing out on a bit of extra protein in one meal time isn’t really an issue if you generally eat a well-balanced diet.
Should traveling as a vegetarian even be an issue? I mean, it’s 2017!
What really grinds my gears when traveling as a vegetarian is not the sometimes limited number of meal options available, but the way in which people react when I inform them, quite calmly and matter-of-factly that I’m vegetarian.
You know what, it’s 2017, and it’s none of your d**n business what I eat and put into my body (as long as I’m not harming anyone). For me, the meat-free diet is the one I feel most comfortable with and, as a result, I’ve never really encountered any problems traveling as a vegetarian. Sure, I’ve received some weird looks and plenty of jibes like meat being waved in my face or whatever, but it’s my choice. I don’t laugh at people for eating meat and calmly explain why I choose not to eat meat when asked…