Today was our first day in Hanoi and our last day on our own before the rest of our group gets here for our next, awesome, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious CPG VEGAN TRIP — this one to Northern Vietnam. The weather is cool, breezy, and sunny, which suits my California temperament. I confess…I can’t help comparing Hanoi to Bangkok, another southeast Asian city I recently visited, and (though it’s too soon and a bit unfair to make comparisons and draw conclusions), I already like Hanoi heaps more. We’re here during one of the short windows when the weather is mild and not oppressively humid, but I just like the feel and pace of this city a lot more. I was warned that it was noisier and more chaotic, but I’m finding the opposite to be true. Still, it’s still early in my trip.
Crutch in hand, I made my way around the streets of Hanoi, including walking all around the lake! I’m so grateful, considering a week ago, I couldn’t even move without excruciating pain. Crossing the street in this city is an adventure in itself. You just walk. And trust that the gazillion motor bikes, cars, and buses will swerve around you. It works. See? I lived to tell my tale.
Seb, our friend (and partner in CPG Trips) lived in Hanoi for over 5 years, so he knows the city backwards and forwards. The first lunch we enjoyed on our first full day was at his Italian friend’s restaurant, where we gobbled up penne pasta with arrabbiata sauce; bruschetta with tomatoes, olives, pine nuts, onions and raisins; and marinara pizza! (Remember: marinara is the oldest type of pizza. In other words, the original pizza was vegan.)
We’ll have our fill of local Vietnamese cuisine throughout the CPG Vegan Trip portion of our travels, so it was nice to partake in some traditional Italian food. The restaurant is called Mediterraneo, and I recommend it. Tell them I sent you — and mention Sebastien Ranger.
From there, we ventured to the Women’s Museum. Many aspects of Vietnamese culture are patriarchal, but many are matriarchal and celebrate the strength, softness, beauty, and indispensability of women. My gimpy little self has nothing on the amazing women who helped build, protect, and run this country.
Afterwards, we took a nap to help us acclimate to the time zone difference and had some food in the Vietnamese restaurant in our Metropole hotel. Really the main things to ask when eating here just as in any Asian restaurant anywhere are for no fish sauce and no egg. (Be sure to ask about the batter of some fried tofu; sometimes they use egg.) We capped off our night with a drink at the beautiful Metropole cafe. The perfect way to end a fantastic day!
I can’t wait to give our fellow travelers the trip of a lifetime. Have you been to Vietnam? What part, and again, I ask…where do you want to go on CPG Trips?
For our journey to Vietnam, we redeemed tens of thousands of miles to enjoy business class from home to Hanoi. Having injured my knee just 10 days prior to leaving, I was very grateful for this, as I would otherwise not have had a very comfortable experience in economy. As it was, we had to fly out of San Jose to San Diego, from San Diego to Tokyo, and finally from Tokyo to Hanoi. A long journey for the fittest among us. With compromised mobility — not so fun.
Of course, I’m also doing everything I can to minimize the amount of waste I create as a traveler on this planet — and on this particular trip — so I of course brought my tea thermos, a small ceramic tea cup, a cloth napkin, my refillable water bottle, shampoo and conditioner, cloth hankies, as well as the travel blanket I bought years ago so I don’t have to rip open a plastic bag for the blanket (sometimes) provided on airplanes. David also brought his refillable water bottle, and to my delight and surprise, he also brought a refillable hot cup for tea or coffee on the go. (And we don’t check bags! All of this + more in our carry-on luggage.)
The only compromise I’ll definitely have to make is occasionally drinking bottled water here in Vietnam since the water isn’t safe enough without risking a bacterial infection (and upset tummy). HOWEVER, as a CPG Vegan Trip, we’re doing what we can to support minimal waste, so we are providing everyone with water purification tablets and filtered water with which to refill bottles.
Of course, we had arranged for vegan meals with Japan Airlines on all the travel legs, but alas, when we got to San Diego, it was revealed that our vegan meals weren’t in the system. One thing I’ve learned in all the traveling I’ve done is that we will be fine no matter what. Decades ago, when I was a younger vegan and a younger human, I would plan for “food security” from point A to point B. Dare I say….overplanned.
I do think it’s prudent to make sure we have food with us so our journey is more pleasant (the way we make sure children have food so they don’t get hangry). When we remove the X factor of hunger, it means we’re better able to cope with the stress of traveling. But, I have also found that we can cobble together what we need wherever we are — including in airports and on airplanes.
So, even though we didn’t have our vegan meals on the flight from San Diego to Tokyo, they did have an a la carte section from which which picked some delicious options. There was a potato onion curry neither of us even tried, opting instead for the ramen noodles in a delicious with mushrooms and seitan!! (me) and udon noodles in broth with sea vegetables (David). And they made us a delicious salad dressing of the citrus and mustard variety. I had two servings of the noodles and three servings of the salad over the course of the 11-hour flight. They also had fruit and some rolls (oh yes, and wine and whisky), so we were absolutely fine.
When we arrived in Tokyo, we had only 30 minutes in the business lounge but took advantage of the miso soup (which indicated there was no fish sauce in it) along with more salad. (Strangely, I was hungry throughout the entire journey and just kept eating, which was disconcerting considering the fact that I’ve been virtually immobile during the recovery of my knee injury and thus burning very few calories.) However, I was glad to have options everywhere we went.
On the 6-hour flight from Tokyo to Hanoi, we preferred the seats to those on the previous flight, but the food was mediocre at best. In fact, for this leg, they had the vegan meal for one of us and none of the a la carte options available, so we didn’t enjoy the food as much, but as we were getting weary of the travel at this point, the desire for sleep took precedence over the desire for food. (But of course, I didn’t sleep. I never do on planes. Caught up on lots of writing and reading.)
Unrelated to the food experience, this was the first time I’ve traveled with crutches and with the need for wheelchair assistance, and I’m very grateful for the support I was given from the second we arrived at the first airport until the moment our driver picked us up in Hanoi. I would never wish this need upon anyone, but it was helpful to experience first-hand what is a need for many.
And now, our adventure begins. We just ate our breakfast at the beautiful Sofitel Legend Metropole, where the rest of our group will meet us on Friday for 10 days of awesomeness. This is a CPG Vegan Trip after all! If you’d like to live vicariously through I can encourage you to follow #CPGTrips on Instagram and search for it on Facebook. We’ll be posting photos and videos throughout the trip.
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.
I LOVE TO TRAVEL. I love being vegan. I love Christmas, especially in Europe! I love romance and forests and twinkling lights. I love spending time with compassionate, kind, fun peeps. Now, imagine combining ALL of that in a little ball of MAGIC: A FAIRYTALE CHRISTMAS TRIP IN FRANCE AND GERMANY!
Quaint villages, historic medieval towns, magical Christmas markets, romantic castles, beautiful vineyards, and every food non-vegans eat that we do better (because you know: animals): croissants, fondue, onion soups, seitan bourguignon, pain au chocolats, pâtés, and black forest cakes! This is France and Germany, after all! I know it’s insane.
We have THREE CPG VEGAN TRIPS currently running. You know how you tell me what you want — and I do it? Well, here you go: you asked me to replicate the trips I’ve talked about on my podcast, so here it is. Let’s spend NOËL together this year!
You can view the very special itinerary at alsace.cpgtrips.com (including our Christmas feast, cooking classes, wine tastings, and more)! BUT HERE’S THE CATCH: FOR THIS TRIP TO BE A GO, WE NEED YOU TO SECURE YOUR SPOT BY MARCH 10th! (And that’s just two days after my BIRTHDAY, and that would be the best gift ever!)
If you want to experience the joy and abundance of living a compassionate life CPG-style, then secure your spot today! Get clicking, or it ain’t gonna happen! (And now, stop asking me to do stuff, okay? Cause I take it really seriously!)
Many of you know my love of all animals, including wildlife in my backyard and all around the world. Many of you know that I count Dian Fossey as one of my heroes. Many of you know how amazing it was to travel to Rwanda to see the culmination of her life’s work: thriving families of mountain gorillas protected from poaching because of the continued work of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International. (You can listen to myFood for Thought podcast all about our trip.)
What many of you may NOT know is that we’re going back to RWANDA — and taking you with me. Because of high demand for another Joyful Vegan Trip to Rwanda, we’ve made it happen.
It’s a 10-day, 5-star, out-of-this world incredible trip to see the mountain gorillas in the north and the chimpanzees in the south (not to mention golden monkeys and many other non-human primates). Frankly, this itinerary BLOWS AWAY our original trip, and I CANNOT wait to return. I fell in love with this country pretty immediately, and if you want to join me…you need to secure your spot NOW.
As you’ll see when you look at the amazing itinerary, the trip is 1.5 years away, which allows for time to save. To do everything we’re doing is not inexpensive, but by going (aside from having invaluable experiences), we’re supporting the conservation of these animals.
We have slots for about 20 people, and several have already been secured. Don’t miss out. Join me for a trip that will change you and help change the world for animals.
This incredible makeup is vegan, cruelty-free, toxic-free, plastic-free, and zero-waste. Watch the video below to see the variety and colors, and use the discount code JOYFULVEGAN to start enjoying Elate!
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!)
My favorite teas are from Far Leaves, and if you enter “colleen” as the promo code, you get 10% off your order. Their tins are recyclable. (My favorite teas are Cloud Mist, Green Goddess, Dong Ding, and Dragonwell.)
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.
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.
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 youplastic-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.)
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)!
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:
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.
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?
My favorite teas are from Far Leaves, and if you enter “colleen” as the promo code, you get 10% off your order. Their tins are recyclable. (My favorite teas are Cloud Mist, Green Goddess, Dong Ding, and Dragonwell.)
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.
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.