Joy and I just took our first vegan vacation. Thought I'd reflect on a few of the differences between this year's vacation and our similar vacation last year.
In 2016 Joy and I traveled to the Memphis area and then to Arkansas to visit family and friends and eat our fill of all our favorite foods from back home -- Corky's barbecue, southern-fried catfish, and our favorite Chinese and Mexican cuisine. At the time we traveled we were omnivores and I was twenty pounds heavier than I am today. During that vacation we discussed coming home and making every effort to "eat clean" by eliminating processed foods and meat from our diet -- AFTER we ate all our favorite foods! During the ten days we traveled I gained four pounds. On April 6, the day after we returned, we became vegetarians and six weeks later adopted a fully vegan lifestyle.
Fast forward to our vacation to the same destinations this year, from which we have just returned. Slimmer and determined to stay true to our convictions, we packed our own breakfast knowing that the hotels in which we stayed would have little to offer us from their complimentary breakfast menus. We still ate in restaurants and grabbed fast food along the way -- mostly vegan Subway and Taco Bell options -- but we grocery shopped upon our arrival in Arkansas and cooked three easy vegan dinner meals for my sister and mother, neither of whom are vegan. Despite ten days of having little or no exercise, I managed to come back weighing the same as the day we left, simply because we ate whole and minimally processed plant-based foods. Instead of dining in the same restaurants we did last year, we sought out restaurants that catered to vegetarian and vegan diners and were delightfully surprised by the quality and variety of food available to us. Who knew that a portabello mushroom burger could be so satisfying, or that the vegan-friendly options at Olive Garden include their famously delicious breadsticks?
As plant-eaters we found that the long days of travel, though tiring, were not nearly as taxing because we ate light and had more energy. We consumed less caffeine and rested better at night -- except for the one night we were booked into a hotel with a bunch of noisy rodeo participants -- and we drank lots of water along the way. Did we feel deprived? Not really. Did we miss our traditional barbecue meal? Nope. We enjoyed a vegan version of a barbecue sandwich that more than adequately satisfied or craving for Memphis barbecue!
I can't think of a better way to celebrate our first year of healthy living than by road testing our lifestyle and showing others that being vegan is not as difficult as they might think. While my family may never fully adopt a plant-based lifestyle, at least they were able to sample some of what we eat routinely and see for themselves that as vegans Joy and I really haven't changed We still enjoy delicious food. We're still the same kooky, fun-loving gals we've always been. We're just a little thinner and a whole lot healthier and happier!
For better health,
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