Going on vacation presents a challenge.
I’ll venture to say that a lot of us, plant-based eaters or not, try to maintain some sense of a lean diet before going on a summer, beach vacation. Bikinis, barely there cover ups, short shorts, fabric deprived tops…Need I say more? But when we hit the resort, all bets are off. Burgers, fries, alcohol, pasta…It’s on! But as a vegan-ish* eater on her way to a country where BBQ seemed to be the dinner of choice on all of our excursions, I wasn’t quite sure how I wanted to approach my pre-vacation diet. Would I try to keep to my regular regimen? Eat BBQ to prepare my gut for the transition? Do something in between?
Since dairy is the only thing I can’t eat without experiencing a slow and painful death, I formulated a plan and decided to release the constraints on my meat intake. You see, my husband and I signed up for a few day-long excursions in Dubai that included bbq lunches and dinners. At the risk of starving myself and not knowing what the spread would be, I prepared my body a few days before the trip by eating a hamburger and a few pieces of chicken. It tasted as I remembered. Delicious. Filling. Savory. Still yet, I felt saddened. I didn’t really want said meat. I felt forced due to uncertain circumstances. But, I weighed my choice against the alternative and reconciled those feelings. I just couldn’t see myself turning down food at every bend trying to maintain something that didn’t cause a visceral or allergic response. I didn’t want to stress about it. Especially not while on vacation.
Alas, my emotional rollercoaster was all for naught. To my pleasant surprise, Dubai and the Maldives are my digestive system’s best friend! This pair of eastern countries have the best fresh vegetable, fruit and meat offerings I’ve ever seen. Yes, even meat! So I ate it all. On days when I wanted to feel light and exuberant, I ate asparagus, salad, rice, veggie sushi, etc. The plant-based selection was brighter and richer in color than I’ve ever seen offered in the United States. Because of how cheap and mass produced the chicken is in the US, I prefer not to eat it, but my fears weren’t quite as strong outside of my native country. I still didn’t eat much of it, but the pieces I tasted were different. They were ON POINT.
It’s when I visit other countries that I feel sad for America - probably for a lot of reasons, but in the context of this blog post, because of the way American factories process and strip our food of the potential nutrients. I haven’t researched it, so I don’t know the differences between how our meat is managed here in the US versus how Asia handles theirs, but my gut tells me that I can rest a little easier with the latter. At the end of the day, I’m pleased. Pleased with how easy it is to remain plant-based outside of the US. No longer will I ruminate and formulate plans on how to manage my preferred lifestyle. I’m thankful for the rest of world for their cleaner eating options and hope that America will one day catch up.
*Vegan-ish, personally defined as someone who consumes fish at times, but avoids chicken, pork and beef when I can, and who has a strict intolerance to dairy.
Have you ever stressed about how to maintain a plant-based diet when breaking routine?
Tell us about it in the comments!