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to Be a Polite Vegan Visitor
first vegan summer is fast approaching. I live in Portugal
where being a vegan is very difficult. I'm going to be
visiting a friend at a beach location and I'll be staying
with her and her family for two weeks. My friend doesn't
cook at home because her parents own a restaurant. When
I've stayed with them before, I've made my own breakfast
at the house, but I usually have my lunch at her family's
restaurant. Because the food is already prepared, I always
end up eating soup, rice, and tomato salad. When we go
out to eat, I end up eating soup again. I don't think
this is at all nutritious, but I don't want to be rude.
How can I get around this?
Traveling for vegans can sometimes be
a challenge, but with a little creativity it doesn't
need to be a problem. When visiting for extended periods
with others, it is important that your hosts understand
not only what you do not eat but what you do eat. Many
meat eaters do not share the interesting and varied
diet most vegans have; therefore they are often unaware
of the extensive options that are available to us.
Soup, rice, and salad are wonderful,
but eating them every day would make most people weary
of them quickly. Your best approach is the honest one.
Communicate with your friend prior to your visit. Let
her know that the food she and her family offer is always
delicious and greatly appreciated, but you feel that
your options are limited. Ask her if there is any way
that you could get a little more variety without being
a burden to her or her family. Tell her what you generally
eat at home and what some of your favorite foods are.
Inquire if her family could prepare something with these
foods or if they could make one of their special dishes
without any meat, eggs, or dairy products so you could
sample a few of their other specialties. On the occasions
when you do not go to the restaurant, you could offer
to prepare dinner or lunch for your friend and her parents,
if this would not be considered impolite.
If you do not want to suffer in silence
during your visit, it is essential that you speak your
mind and heart to your friend. Tell her how difficult
it is for you to even discuss this because you do not
want to appear ungrateful for her and her family's hospitality.
Once you begin a dialogue, your friend will most likely
want to know more about the different kinds of foods
you eat. She may even be curious to try some of these
foods herself. You can both view it as an adventure
that could make your visit together even more interesting,
exciting, and fun.
Meaningful friendships are based on
trust and honesty. Expressing your deepest thoughts
and emotions about this matter may seem intimidating
because there is no guarantee that your friend will
understand or empathize with your predicament. Nevertheless,
if you want to have a comfortable visit, there are no
other reasonable alternatives. You may run a slight
risk of alienating your friend, but you have an even
better chance of strengthening your bond and making
future communications more open and the relationship
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