Vacationing as a Vegan in Cali and Letting Go of my Ego
Since I’ve been vegan, I’ve gone out of town only once before my trip to California. The first vacation was to my friends’ house in Sweet Home Alabama, where they were more than accommodating by cooking me all things vegan including lasagna, sweet potato pancakes, and french toast. Not to mention, they made sure to pick out a restaurant that had a vegan option for dinner. The latter part of my trip to California last month went exactly how it did at my friends’ house – I enjoyed homemade vegan meals from my sister and brother-in-law, and my sister researched tons of restaurants for vegan food. I’ve realized that I’m extremely blessed to have family and friends who are willing to bend over backwards to find me something to eat and to support my lifestyle.
Well, I should have followed my sister’s and friends’ lead because the first part of my trip to Cali, where I attended a conference for a few days, did not go as well. I figured with the Happy Cow app in hand and it being San Diego that I would find a multitude of options. This Georgia Peach pictured all of Cali to be crazy health-conscious. I was wrong. It was a challenge to find places in downtown San Diego that served vegan options. Most of the places that had vegetarian options had the cheese baked into the meals so I couldn’t eat any of their food. After walking around, asking a lot of questions, and being mindful that I could always eat a salad if all else failed, I found food – and good food, too. Since I was bad about taking pictures of all the dishes I ate, here’s a little taste of the food I enjoyed while visiting California…
While on this trip, I realized that being negative or rude when people don’t really know what to serve you gets you nowhere. The caterers at the conference had to call some people behind the scenes to figure out what they could give me to eat for lunch. While I was waiting for the staff to work this out, I encountered another vegan. I tried to strike up conversation about being vegan, but she was angry and annoyed. I felt like we were lucky to even be waiting on a special option to be prepared for the two of us, but a different kind attitude was written all over her face. This is where I had a light bulb moment – it’s not about me or any of us vegans, and nor should it be. It’s about the people who go hungry everyday because food is being fed to fatten up the animals on the factory farms instead of being supplied to the human population. It’s about the animals who are being slaughtered and brutally treated everyday because people demand their meat. It’s about the slaughterhouse workers being exploited and risking their lives everyday to provide for their families.
I’m actually glad I encountered this angry vegan (who, by the way, is the only mean vegan I’ve ever met) because it reminded me that there are bigger issues in this world than wondering if I’ll be able to eat a vegan Boca burger for lunch. Right before this lunch debacle at the conference, there was a speaker named Emmanuel Jal who moved many of us to tears when he spoke about his childhood spent as a child soldier. Emmanuel talked about when he escaped from the Southern Sudan army and how he was almost forced to cannibalism because he was starving to death. He sang to us and his words resonated with me that whole week, and still do today. When I think about Emmanuel Jal’s life and how he’s now fighting to help others, once again I’m reminded that it’s time to let go of the ego and start positively impacting the world.