Vegan Traveler-Activities You Should Avoid

Welcome to 2019! What were your new years resolutions? Was it to up your vegan game? To have a more diverse palate? Or, maybe it was to travel. In previous posts, I talked about how to maintain your vegan diet as  a traveler. But, what about your lifestyle as a vegan? While it’s manageable to eat as a vegan nearly everywhere, what about the activities that promote your lifestyle? There’s hundreds of touristic attractions to do, but do you know which ones support ethical treatment of animals or the local economy? Best bet is to research the country you’re going to and eliminate unethical activities. Don’t have a country in mind? Here is my bucket list of things NOT to do as a traveler and my reasoning why!

Ride an Elephant

Traveler on an Elephant

You’ve seen hundreds of videos, pictures, and promotions of travelers riding elephants in Thailand, Laos, and Bali. But did you know that  this activity promotes animal cruelty? Many travelers are unaware of the cruelty and torrent these animals go through. These elephants are trained as a “slave” for the tourism industry from a very young age. If you plan to go to South East Asia avoid this activity if you can. This includes elephants who are on treks, painting classes, and begging on the street to do tricks. You can read more about the cruel training of elephants here.

Eating a Country’s Traditional Dish

There is a fine line between experiencing a country’s culture through its food and supporting animal torture and abuse. Of course this is a personal decision and I’m here to help you make it. I want you to have a wonderful time exploring a new land, but be conscious of what your decisions cost other people or animals. In other parts of the world, mainly parts of Asia and France, there are a few “backwards” dishes served. For example, in some parts of China, dog and cat meat are served on a daily basis. You can try it if you want, but I personally wouldn’t. I’m a cat-lover. In parts of France, it’s considered a delicacy to eat frog legs. I don’t find it appetizing, but maybe you do! After reading this, it’s up to you to decide whether you want to try other countries’ delicacies. If you’re still unsure, I’d research a specific country since I cannot go through every single country in this blog post.

Taking a Picture with a Wild Animal

Countries such as Thailand have centers where you can take a selfie with a tiger. Like the situation with the elephants, the cruelty is hidden from the eyes of the tourists. When the tigers are not being chained and forced to stand still for hours, they are locked in concrete cells. These cells have little to no light and nothing to enrich their lives. There have been reports of the handlers provoking the tigers to get into different positions with the tourists or being doped so they are more docile. Do your research these so called “sanctuaries” are a cover up for something illegal. It’s best to stay clear if you’re unsure.

Horse-Drawn Carriage

Horse-drawn carriage rides seems like the thing to do in New York City. I’ll caution you before you decide to do this activity. These horses are on the street and have to deal with pedestrians, cyclists, cars, trucks, and the occasional ambulance while carrying heavy cargo or tourists. These horses have to work in any condition (extreme hot and cold) and walk on extremely hard surfaces. It permanently damages  their legs. And, at the end of their days, the horses are sent to a stable with minimal light and nothing welcoming about it. I beg you to do your research before stepping onto a carriage.

Traveler-to-Traveler Advice

Bottom line from one traveler to another please do your research before partaking in any activity on the road. Something may look fun, but at whose expense? There are many activities that you can do that don’t support unethical people or animal practices. Ask your hostel or hotel before signing up! Happy travels this year!