Tag: travel

The Vegan Experience: Special Announcement

The intention in my work on behalf of animals and veganism has always been to guide people to live compassionately and healthfully with joy and confidence — and without deprivation. And that’s why I offer so many opportunities for you to join me in living joyfully, fully, abundantly, compassionately, intentionally, creatively, and consciously — in other words, to enjoy The Vegan Experience. 

Plastic-Free Tea Thermos / / Zero Waste and Vegan

As I mentioned in my last post about Zero-Free On-The-Go / Travel, I was looking for a plastic-free tea thermos that has a strainer for tea, and I’m thrilled to have found two:

this tea thermos by NiftyCore (14 oz)

this tea thermos by Leaf Life (17 oz)

They both work beautifully, keep my tea hot, and of course both can be used for coffee, hot cocoa, or cold beverages as well. With 500 billion disposable coffee cups being produced and discarded each year, it’s the least we can do, don’t ya think?

Of the two versions, I like the larger size and warmer color of the Leaf Life thermos, but Nifty Core’s 14 ounces is also great when a smaller size is needed.

Charlie and Michiko approve, too! (Actually, they don’t really care, but they’re cute enough to justify their participation in this post!)

Get Your Own Tea Thermos (and Tea)!

Zero Waste and Vegan / / Beverages On the Go

Single-use cups and straws are wreaking environmental havoc, most of which are going into landfills or polluting the ocean and harming wildlife. About 30.9 billion disposable cups are thrown away along with 58 billion paper cups (not recycled) annually. 500 million straws are used in the U.S. every day. Having just returned from a trip I thought it would be a good time to share with you how I travel zero-waste, plastic-free, and vegan. I would never deny you your coffee, tea, or water while on the go, but we can make a huge difference by using reusables the moment we leave our house.

Water

I stopped buying single-use plastic bottles years ago — even before I officially started on my zero-waste / plastic-free venture. (The only time I’ve had to make an exception is while traveling is when the local water supply isn’t safe to drink.) So, whenever I leave my house, my reusable water bottle comes with me. I have a couple stainless steel Kleen Kanteen bottles I still use, but as they have plastic lids when and if the time comes to purchase a new one, I’d opt for the Kleen Kanteen bottle with a bamboo lid or Simple Modern bottles. The latter comes in many sizes for both hot and cold beverages and contain no plastic.

Tea

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a tea junkie who carries my favorite tea thermos everywhere I go. I was about to link to it since it’s one of the top questions I’m asked (“What is the tea thermos/infuser you use??” But in keeping with my plastic-free goal, I couldn’t in good conscious point you to it. HOWEVER, I’m THRILLED to share with you plastic-free tea thermos by NiftyCore. Now remember, there are plenty of plastic-free thermos options, but for infusing TEA, which is my priority here, the key is finding one with an infuser. (NOTE: This thermos can be used for coffee, too.)

Coffee

500 billion disposable coffee cups are produced every year.

I’m not a coffee drinker so I can’t personally recommend a favorite plastic-free coffee thermos or to-go cup; however, there are plenty out there including the thermos I recommended above, which can be used for coffee as well as tea (or a hot toddy)!

All Beverages  

Living plastic-free / zero-waste isn’t about buying new plastic-free items. It’s about using what is already available to us, being innovative, and checking out secondhand / gently used items at thrift stores. (Asking friends and neighbors is another great idea.) One way to enjoy beverages on the road is to just use Mason or Ball jars along with an EcoJarz lid that replaces the flats on jars with those that are secured with a rubber ring (if you need a lid). Glass jars won’t necessarily insulate hot or cold beverages, but if temperature isn’t an issue, they’re perfect — and tried and true. 

Beverages on Airplanes 

First, when traveling with your beverage container, be sure it’s empty before reaching the security line. There’s nothing more heartbreaking than seeing all of the un-drunk water bottles being tossed into the garbage. (There’s also nothing more heartbreaking than having to dump out your favorite tea because you forgot about security!) Once you’re through security, you can fill up your water at a filling station or water fountain. 

Second (for tea drinkers), head to the nearest cafe and ask them to fill up your thermos with hot water (FREE!). Add your own tea leaves. I usually have that part done before leaving my house, but I also carry my own tea with me. Second (for coffee drinkers), head to the nearest cafe and request your thermos or whatever your beverage container be filled with your favorite coffee (NOT FREE)! 

I drink a fair amount of tea, so whether or not I’ve gotten hot water for my tea thermos at the airport, I usually want more tea once I’m on the plane. During the beverage service, I simply ask the airline attendant to fill my tea thermos with hot water. HOWEVER, I have two things to say about this:

  1. Even though I have my tea thermos, in the past, I’ve also requested an empty hot cup to pour my tea into once it’s steeped because it’s just too hot to drink straight out of the thermos. (Plus, I don’t want the tea to oversteep). To avoid this in future, I’ll start traveling with a mason jar or small ceramic mug so I don’t need to request a disposable cup.
  2. This seems to vary according to the whims of the attendant, but occasionally I’ve been told that they’re “not permitted” to handle customers’ own cups in order to refill them. Most of the time, they refill them, but sometimes, they still grab a (most-likely-plastic-coated) hot cup to put my hot water into and then hand the cup to me to pour into my thermos. Grrrrr! I’ve noticed the easiest way to avoid this is to not ask for my hot water while seated during the beverage service but to go to the galley where the attendants are always happy to refill my thermos straight from the hot water tap. HOWEVER: Sometimes they still grab a disposable cup because it’s shorter than my thermos and easier to stick under the tap, but this is when my trusty jar/mug will come in! 

Zero-Waste Snacks, Drinks, and Comfort

 

Making an effort to be zero-waste / plastic-free means being mindful in ways you never thought possible. But just as I advise people who are looking to eat vegan/more healthfully, it’s just a matter of planning ahead, and truth be told: when we’re traveling, that’s what we’re doing already. It’s just a matter of adding a few extra things to your packing list. 

  • Bring your own snacks in their own containers rather than buy food on the plane. My favorite waste-free snacks are those that come in their own compostable packaging: fruits and veggies.
  • Apply what we’ve learned about being responsible campers/hikers: “pack it out.” Whether I’ve accumulated recyclable or compostable waste, I take it with me and dispose of it properly once I’m off the plane or at my destination. Yes, that means I always have a couple biodegradable compostable bags on me. 
  • Bring your own utensils. Truth be told, I’m not a fan of the bamboo utensils sold on many sustainable websites. Just get some stainless steel flatware from a thrift store or garage sale, wrap them in a cloth napkin, and keep them in your bag. 
  • Bring your own cloth napkins. 
  • Bring your own pillow/neck rest and blanket. Rather than open up the plastic-packaged blanket offered on some flights, I just bring my own blanket that folds down compactly in my bag. As for the pillow, apparently many are just thrown out after the flight, so just clip a travel pillow onto your backpack, and you’ll have a comfortable flight wherever you’re traveling!
  • Carry your own stainless steel straw! It’s rare that I ever feel compelled to drink through a straw, but we do have some at home for summer cocktails, and I’ve started carrying one around with me. Ya never know.

Straw-Free in Restaurants and Bars 

More and more restaurants are becoming aware of people requesting straw-free water (!), but it’s still too common and servers and bartenders are often too busy to stop and ask if you want a straw or they do it out of habit (or restaurant policy), so to preemptively avoid straws, it’s probably best just to say to the host who is seating you: “if water will be brought to us automatically, can you please ask them to not bring us straws? Thank you.” 

At bars and restaurants, now when I ask for water, I just add “no straw” at the same time: “Hi there. May I have a water — and please no straw. Thank you.” It’s rare, but I’ve also noticed that in some bars, cafes, restaurants — even though they have pint glasses all over the place, they still serve water in plastic cups, so just being even more conscious of this than ever before, when I ask for water, I also explicitly ask for it to be served in a glass. This is not an unreasonable expectation. (Yes, it means they have another dish to wash, but adding another glass to their dishwasher is far less destructive than putting another plastic cup — often made of petroleum-based virgin plastic — in a landfill. Period.)

YOU CAN DO THIS! Although it might feel uncomfortable at first, you’ll quickly get used to asking for something in a reusable container.(Plus, it always sparks a wonderful conversation!) Kudos to you for doing more than just declaring yourself a friend of the animals but for actually manifesting your values in your  behavior. After all, what’s the point of having values if you don’t stand up for them? 

Shop Summary

Ethical Tourism: AVOIDING ANIMAL CRUELTY WHEN TRAVELING (Thailand Edition)

Lack of awareness and cognitive dissonance compels us to support industries that exploit and hurt animals for our own entertainment both when we’re at home (like going to the zoo or circus) and when we travel (like swimming with dolphins, getting photographed with tigers, or riding elephants). Our desire to be close to other animals and interact with them is exactly what causes them the most harm. Most of us are drawn to animals, and that’s a good thing, because it also means we want to help them and protect them, but it’s a bad thing when our desire to interact with them is at the cost of their own welfare, safety, happiness, or lives. Listen to today’s episode about how to travel to Thailand without harming animals.

More info here.

“The Best Trip I Ever Had”

That is exactly what our travelers on the Vegan Thailand Trip with CPG said throughout and at the end of our travels together. I hope you can join us for a journey to the incredibly beautiful country of Vietnam where we will spoil you as we:

*connect with like-minded travelers
*celebrate and support the work being done to save and protect animals in Vietnam
*experience an abundance of the local vegan cuisine
*revel in nature
*immerse ourselves in the Vietnamese culture

We have no plans to offer this trip again, so VISIT CPGTRIPS.COM to secure your spot before it sells out. We’re only hosting ONE TRIP in 2018, and this is it!

With CPG Trips, we’ve created one-of-a-kind travel experiences with a focus on the interests and needs of adventurous and compassionate vegans and their vegan-friendly friends and family members. It’s all about the food, the animals, the wildlife, the sanctuaries, and the small details and experiences that shape life-long memories.

Vegan in Thailand (Animals, Food, Nature, oh my!)

I never wanted to visit Thailand until we created a trip of a lifetime for 20 travelers. 

Thailand was never on the top of my list as a destination, mostly because I had no connection to it other than through its cuisine and I thought of it only as a tourist destination with humid beaches and crowded cities — neither of which are especially appealing to me. Of course, it’s much, much more than that, but — like with so many things in life — I couldn’t know that until I experience it myself; well, myself and two dozen fellow travelers. 

We chose Thailand as our next CPG Trip since our co-organizers live in Bangkok and know the city and country really, really well. As a result, they created an incredible itinerary for this once-in-a-lifetime holiday. 22 people signed up to join us in Thailand, and it was as beautiful a trip as could be. I’m in the middle of writing the next Food for Thought podcast episode on our trip and will also be producing separate episodes on pressing animal issues and what it means to travel ethically. This small compilation of photos tells some of the story of our journey and the special people who have returned home with unforgettable memories and life-long friendships. 

 

 

In this photo album, you’ll see 

*canal boat rides in Bangkok
*visits to local markets
*communal meals of delicious cuisine
*interactive cooking class
*breathtaking scenery
*stellar accommodations
*cycling through Chiang Mai and its temples and rice paddies
*tubing on the Sok River to arrive at our jungle house
*staying at our jungle house
*canoeing down the river
*visiting the rescued residents at Phuket Elephant Sanctuary and supporting their important work
*visiting the dogs (and cats!) at Soi Dog Foundation
*learning about the work of (and supporting) the Gibbon Project to rehabilitate and rescue gibbons (listen to their amazing vocalizations!)
*our final day on a chartered catamaran (we don’t mess around)
*and most importantly: joyous faces and deepening friendships

That’s pretty much what we set out to accomplish, and I dare say we did it. I told the group that I feel like a proud momma watching everyone bond and laugh and cry and teach and learn and just be. That’s my intention for our next journey with CPG Trips: to celebrate the work being done to save and protect animals, to experience an abundance of the local vegan cuisine, to revel in nature, to be immersed in a new culture, and to create a safe space for like-minded travelers to experience the joy of reflecting their deepest values in the most abundant, meaningful, compassionate, and enriching way possible. 

Enjoy sharing our trip to Thailand with us, and I hope you can join us for Vegan Vietnam

[Tweet “Compassionate Travel is all about making choices that cause as little harm as possible.”]

We saw MOUNTAIN GORILLAS!

We came to Rwanda to see the Mountain Gorillas ?. We saw them. Our expectations were exceeded beyond our wildest dreams. While I prepare our photos and videos, enjoy this little preview to get you excited. And no, I couldn’t have planned the entrance of that young gorilla if I tried.

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Vegan in Los Angeles

Now that I’m having a love affair with Los Angeles, here are some highlights from our recent visit.

My love of California has been steady since I first visited this state in 1990, eight years before I moved here from New Jersey. My love of Los Angeles has been more recent, but it’s been steadfast for the last 15 years. Several years ago, David and I decided to get to know the city more to see what all the fuss is about. And though I cannot say I have any desire to live there, we’re thrilled we have the opportunity — between his work and mine — to go down every few months.

This recent visit was particularly special because we were celebrating several joyous occasions: our 15-year wedding anniversary as well as the wedding of a dear friend of mine who married the love of her life. Here are some highlights from our trip with recommendations for your next visit.

*We always stay at the Huntley hotel in Santa Monica. Nothing beats the view or the proximity to the beach and the shops, but it’s also at the edge of all the hustle and bustle, and the residential neighborhood is my favorite place to run. The rooftop restaurant/bar at the Huntley is one of the city’s most popular, so it can get pretty crowded, but we put together an impromptu Happy Hour there on a Friday night and had no problem finding seats and getting served. (And the service is always stellar.) I often spend hours up in the restaurant writing away and trying not to get distracted by the view of the Pacific Ocean. Although it’s not the most vegan-friendly of restaurants, there’s always something to eat, whether it’s a salad or the veganized pizza.

*For our anniversary dinner, David surprised me with reservations at Crossroads, which we still hadn’t ever been to. It was fantastic — the ambiance (warm and romantic), the service (attentive without hovering), the drink menu (extensive), and the food (best kale caesar and best brownie I’ve ever had!). We can’t wait to go back.

*Other places we ate in Santa Monica: Tender Greens, a chain I went to because of outdoor seating, free wifi, and vegan options, though I wouldn’t go back again. The food was mediocre at best, and the smell of steak and other dead flesh — even while sitting outside — was unbearable. Flower Child was definitely a much better lunch option over Tender Greens. I wouldn’t necessarily sit there to work, but the food was really good, and there was lots of variety; friendly staff, and bright open space. We also ate at Erven Restaurant, which has taken over the old Real Food Daily space. Lots of interesting flavors in the food, a great wine list, and lovely service. We’d probably go again, but I worry that there’s nothing that stands out enough about it to be a major draw.

*Once downtown after celebrating our friends’ wedding, we signed up for a walking tour, one of the best ways to get to know a city. I highly recommend Downtown LA Walking Tours — lots of different tours to choose from, and the host knows his stuff and loves what he does.

*We walked around on our own a bit as well and just fell in love with the architecture downtown. Some highlights for me were a) seeing Union Station, where many of my favorite Film Noir films have scenes AND where the pivotal scene in The Way We Were (one of my favorite movies) was filmed. I had no idea until I stood at the restaurant that the iconic argument scene was filmed there. b) the public library was beautiful c) the courtyard at the Disney concert hall was just beautiful and d) I knew right away that there was a link between the architecture at The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels (in L.A.) and The Cathedral of Christ the Light (in my city of Oakland), and I was right. (I think the latter is more stunning, however.) Oh, and it was lovely to see where Gregory Peck and his wife are interred.

*After several hours of walking, we headed straight to Au Lac (right across from the Disney concert hall) and enjoyed a delicious lunch. We’d been there before, but we really looked forward to going again, and we weren’t disappointed.

From there, we headed straight back to our hotel to pack up our things and hop in an Uber to the airport. We’re back in our beloved city of Oakland, but we’re already planning our next visit to the city of angels.

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