Vegan On Vacation

stone-dam-waterfall This post is coming to you live from the beautiful island of Kauai! I’ve been here for four days already and I have to say that I’m pretty impressed with how healthy I’ve been eating. I owe this almost entirely to the fact that this is the first time I’ve committed to eating 100% vegan on vacation. In the past, I’ve used vacation as an excuse to stray from my plant-based diet, but this time I wanted to see what my experience would like be if I didn’t make those excuses. The verdict: I have not felt like I’ve had to sacrifice once!

It’s been an interesting experiment. I’ve been making very different food choices than I normally would, especially here in Hawaii (which I visit relatively frequently because my wife is from here and my in-laws live here). I love fresh fish, and especially sushi and sashimi, and you can’t get any better than here on the islands. That used to be a usual vacation “cheat” for me, and while it’s not unhealthy (assuming low mercury levels), it’s certainly not a humane food choice. So I’ve been saying no to fish this time around, and I haven’t missed it.

Cheese is another usual vacation cheat for me, largely┬ábecause it comes on virtually everything that doesn’t have meat. It’s easy to eat vegetarian almost anywhere in the world today, but eating vegan is another story. Cheese was one of the hardest things for me to give up, but at this point I don’t miss it at all, so it’s easy (and much healthier) for me to just ask the kitchen to leave the cheese off.

Eggs are another temptation for me in Hawaii, and particularly on Kauai because of the chickens. For some reason, the island is overrun with chickens – there are literally tens of thousands of them running around wild everywhere. This means that a lot of people keep hens in their yard and have fresh eggs all the time. My sister-in-law is one such person. These eggs are delicious, and they come from hens that are seemingly well-treated, so this should be a no-brainer, right? But I wonder about the entire life-cycle of these hens (where did they come from as chicks; what happens to the male chicks, etc.)┬áso it’s just been easier for me to skip the eggs. So far…

Instead of eating fish and cheese and eggs, I’ve been doubling down on fresh Hawaiian fruits: mangoes, papaya, pineapple, lychee; and Laura and I have been hitting the local farmer’s markets and health food stores to choose ingredients for simple but delicious meals we’ve been cooking here in our little bungalow. At a local restaurant the other night I enjoyed a dinner of roasted olives; gazpacho made from fresh, local ingredients; and the most unusual bruschetta I’ve ever had: a roasted, whole tomato was submerged in the most delicious balsamic and fresh-herb brine and served up in a bowl with fresh-baked bread on the side. The bread wasn’t very healthy, I’m sure, but hey – I’m on vacation!

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