Why I Don’t Like to Travel

Why I Don’t Like to Travel
For vegans, a trip just isn’t a trip without food problems

by Laura Beaulne-Stuebing, January 31, 2008

Like a lot of people, I love to travel. Seeing new places and meeting new people; exploring areas I have never explored. It’s a simple delight.

But there is one complication that I always have to take into account. I am vegan. And being vegan on a voyage can be difficult.

I encountered just this sort of difficulty when I traveled to Ottawa last week. Ottawa is great (and very cold!) and is a fairly vegan-friendly city, as far as I could tell. However, I wasn’t in Ottawa for the sights – I was there for a student journalism conference and spent most of my days inside the hotel, attending workshops and meetings.

Thus, my food supply was limited to what I brought along with me and what the hotel was able to provide. You probably have some idea what the complications were…

Strangely enough, in a conference of about four hundred university students, I was the only vegan. The only one! These students are (for the most part) politically active, engaged, progressive, and aware about what’s happening in the world. Yet, only one vegan among them. It’s a little silly, actually.

I had little support, on that side of things.

I approached the kitchen staff, wondering what they could do for me. The chef and hotel employees were kind, and tried to be accommodating. Each evening they would ask what I wanted, which was very nice of them

But remember how I mentioned that Ottawa is cold? Ottawa is COLD – especially in the middle January. To add to the complicated food situation, I became ill – I came down with the serious sickies.

So when I was asked, “What’s for dinner?” by the hotel employees, my answer each night was “soup.” And guess what they served me? An oily mess of vegetables, doused and floating in, well, oil. The next night wasn’t so oily, but it wasn’t any better. I asked for soup again, and was given (I could tell this is what they did) frozen vegetables, heated of course, served in a salty vegetable broth. Their special attempts to be accommodating left a lot to be desired.

No protein. No carbs. No substance. I managed to survive on dinner rolls (that I’m guessing, and telling myself, had no milk or egg ingredients) and soda crackers.

What did I learn from this? When working with a kitchen staff, in a situation such as the one I encountered at the conference, a vegan must be very clear. A vegan has to say EXACTLY what s/he wants for dinner, otherwise they give you veggies.

I love my veg, but I also need substance. I should have said, “Hey, I’d love some beans in my soup, thank you very much.”

And that, my friends, is why I don’t like to travel. Only I do.

Who’s the oxymoron?

Laura is a university student in London, Ontario.

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