Tag: vegantravel

3 Tips for Avoiding Animal Cruelty When Traveling

We may not intend to, but there are so many ways we contribute to animal cruelty and exploitation while we’re traveling (domestically and abroad)! National Geographic published a hugely important article about the rise of attractions around the world that exploit animals for tourists. Three of the recommendations for travelers:

  1. avoid any kind of attraction where you pay to directly interact with wild animals (don’t pay to pet, bathe, get photos with, or touch wild animals). 
  2. make a point to see animals in national parks, protected habitats, refuges,  and ethical safaris that help generate income to protect wild animals and their homes.
  3. support genuine sanctuaries that provide refuge to rescued animals who can no longer survive in the wild. (Do your own research; just because they call themselves a “sanctuary,” it doesn’t mean they are. Always reach out to trusted sources if you’re unsure.)

I talked about exactly all of this in great detail in my podcast episode called Avoiding Animal Cruelty When Traveling to Thailand and Everywhere. 

Sadly, one of the reasons we visited so many animal rescue groups in Thailand is because of how much animal cruelty, wildlife trafficking, and animal exploitation there is in that country, allowed by the government and deeply entrenched in the culture. For instance, elephants used in the tourism/riding and logging industries endure a lifetime of suffering and separation. 

Seeing wildlife in their natural habitat — like the mountain gorillas in Rwanda, lions in Botswana, bison in Yellowstone, or the deer in our own backyards — is heart-stopping, breath-taking, and supports the animals, their habitat, and the local residents. 

Of course, when we travel (either on our own or on the group Joyful Vegan Trips we host), we take care to avoid animal cruelty, and we visit true sanctuaries and protected habitat where the safety and well-being of the animals are the main priority. We take this very seriously and vet our partners very carefully. 

We hosted 54 travelers on two back-to-back trips to Rwanda and we have upcoming trips to … well, see for yourself! I hope you can join us one day to experience the trip of a lifetime—while supporting the care and conservation of the animals whose homes we visit.  

We’re veganizing the south of France!

Arranging incredible meals for all our vegan travelers is 10x easier in Rwanda than it is in France.

We have officially sold out of our December 2020 Botswana trip (where it’s ALSO easier to eat plant-based than France — especially rural France). Which is why…our Summer-in-the-South-of-France Vegan Trips in June/July 2020 are going to be off the hook!

Everything non-vegans eat vegans will eat BETTER! We mean EVERYTHING that is seasonal and regional, we arrange vegan versions of!

We also take over our very own 4-star villa. We visit the world-famous Lascaux cave to see the replicas of 17,000 years-old animal paintings!!! We have a special private visit the first European elephant sanctuary! Castles, river boat ride, wineries and vineyards, and so much more!

Our Summer in France trips are now starting to sell out, and I hope you visit the details on our website to see if you can join us. There’s one more month to sign up, and if the trip is not a go, of course you get 100% of your money back. It’s a win-win situation!

For the animals…CPG

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How Rwanda Unites

Rwanda is considered the cleanest and greenest country in East Africa. It’s not because Rwanda employs more street sweepers, gardeners, and road crews than other countries, and it’s not (only) because of the decade-long ban on plastic bags.

It’s also because of a monthly communal ritual called Umuganda, a Kinyarwanda word that translates to “coming together in common purpose to achieve an outcome.” Military service isn’t compulsory in Rwanda but Umuganda is — for able-bodied people ages 18 to 65 — and it takes place on the last Saturday of each month.

Because expatriates and visitors are welcome to participate and because — on our Joyful Vegan Trips to Rwanda — we scheduled our to be there on the day of that month’s Umuganda, we arranged to visit a local village to join them build a road.

Umuganda in its current form was reintroduced in 1998 as part of the effort to rebuild the country and to nurture a shared national identity after the 1994 genocide.

As a U.S. citizen in a deeply divided country, it’s not a huge leap to draw parallels between the past divisiveness in Rwanda and the present divisiveness in my own country. If that sounds dramatic, then consider this:

A recent survey (referenced in this op-ed) asked both Republicans and Democrats, “Do you ever think we’d be better off as a country if large numbers of the opposing party in the public today just died’?” Some 20 percent of Democrats (12.6 million voters) and 16 percent of Republicans (7.9 million voters) said yes.

When asked, “What if the opposing party wins the 2020 presidential election. How much do you feel violence would be justified then?” 18.3 percent of Democrats and 13.8 percent of Republicans said violence would be justified on a scale ranging from “a little” to “a lot.”

Over a 3-month period in 1994 in Rwanda, this very sentiment manifested itself into a methodical massacre in which approximately 800,000 citizens were brutally killed by their fellow citizens—neighbors, co-workers, colleagues, and friends.

If Rwandans can heal, unite, and forgive after such a massive atrocity, anyone can. We have much cleaning up to do in our own country—both literally and figuratively, and we must take it seriously.

Garbage clean-up anyone?

Photo Credit: Jennifer Hadley 

How Wildlife is Recovering After Genocide

The 1994 genocide against the Tutsis devastated this beautiful country, its people, its wildlife, and its wild spaces. But with vigilance, persistence, vision, courage, and strength, they are recovering.⁠ When Akagera National Park was created in 1934, it was one of the best wildlife reserves in all of Africa. ⁠

⁠Once spanning almost 1,000 square miles, sadly, in 1997, it was reduced in size by almost 50%. A large portion of the land was reallocated to refugees to Rwanda after the genocide. Before 1997, many refugees returning to Rwanda settled in the area, and the conservation area was harmed by poaching and cultivation. ⁠

⁠I so look forward to telling you more about the work they’re doing, the animals they’ve reintroduced, the conservation measures they’re taking, and the rhinos (!) who have just safely arrived from zoos in three different countries who will now live out their natural lives in the wild. ⁠

⁠On our first trip to Rwanda, we didn’t have the chance to visit Akagera, but we were so thrilled to make it part of our CPG Vegan Rwanda Trips. We saw zebra, warthogs, impala, cape buffalo, waterbucks, and many more mammals and birds. The highlight of the day was probably seeing a ⁠pod of hippos emerge from the water to the beach. ⁠

⁠People can heal. Animals can recover. Land can be restored. Rwanda teaches this lesson better than any other country I’ve seen. ⁠

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*Birds, waterbuck photos by Julie Morgan
*Hippos, zebra, impala, and alligator photos by Lynda Kluck
*Hippos, zebra, impala, and elephant photos by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

I’m Not Evil, and Neither Are You: Tribalism, Ideology, and a Call for Compassion

There’s a presumption among some vegans that if you’re vegan, you’re also liberal, socialist, atheist, feminist, intersectionalist, progressive, and leftist, that you’re pro-choice, anti-vaccine, anti-GMO’s — and that if you’re not any or all of these things, you’re unwelcome — or at least you don’t belong. Or that you’re an imposter. Or that you welcome oppression. 

We are living in a time when group loyalty and identity politics are valued more than reason, critical thinking, tolerance for another point of view, and compassion. And it scares the bejesus out of me.

Today’s episode is (yet another) call for compassion. 

Why Are You Vegan?

I don’t know about you, but I didn’t look at this thing called vegan and say, “now that’s a club I want to join!”

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I Could Never Give Up Cheese!

When people say “I don’t eat a lot of meat, so I could really live without it, but I could never live without cheese,” here’s what I say in response. (I also say take The 30-Day Vegan Challenge to receive the tools and resources you need to make a change sustainably, joyfully, healthfully, and deliciously.)

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Why Are Vegans So Fussy (and Weak)?

Another question FOX News’ Tucker Carlson asked Gene Baur during their interview that a number of people asked what my 1-minute response would be went like this:

“I don’t like the way factory farms treat animals, so I’m kinda sympathetic to what you’re saying. And then I meet people who are vegan, and #1, there’s a super high level of fussiness, which I find a major turn-off, and #2, they all look pretty easy to push over, so you can’t tell me that it’s that good for you if they all look like they fall over in the wind, right?⠀
~⠀
You asked for it, so here is my response. ⠀
~⠀
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FOX News Asks About Veganism. I Answer.

In his recent interview with my friend and colleague Gene Baur (of Farm Sanctuary), FOX News host and self-described animal-lover Tucker Carlson said he has views about what we ought to be eating, but he doesn’t force them onto anybody else. “It seems to be taking a large step to think you have the right to be telling other people to what to eat,” said Tucker. “Why are you doing that?” Many of you asked what I would have said. Here’s my response.

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