30 Lessons this Raw Vegan Mama Learned from Traveling and Dining Out with Omnivore Loved Ones

4 Mar

In the last 6 months alone, it seems like my family and I have traveled non-stop to be with friends and extended family.  These days, I feel like I am a bit of a pro when traveling with and dining out with loved ones who happen to be non-Raw Omnivores. 

I wish I could tell you we did wonderfully: I ate 100% Raw Vegan Foods and my family kept up their 50% Raw Vegan diet. But we did not.

What we did a lot of instead was, what I call, nutritional compromising. Why?  Well, believe it or not, for harmony’s sake.  We love our friends and family dearly and being together with them means a lot to us.  We didn’t want to alienate anyone… or ourselves.

I cannot say I was very much OK with all the nutritional compromising in the past few months… but I met Perry the other day who made me feel a whole lot better.  He sold me a bottle of E3Live.  I asked him if he was Raw Vegan.  He said he used to be.  “Why?” I asked.  He said, his mother had cancer when he was growing up and foods were designated as BAD or GOOD, ALLOWED or NOT ALLOWED.  So Young Perry rebelled. He would go behind his mother’s back, steal her money and buy the foods that were verboten at their house.  Needless to say, he thought it was a good idea that I allow my son some slack. 

Here is what I learned while traveling with Omnivore loved ones:

Our Travel Food Bag

I always have fruit (bananas, oranges, apples) and salad for everyone. I also always have some cooked Vegan foods for the boys. Hopefully we can recycle the plastic containers.

1. I always pack my family’s meals for road trips and national/international flights. Unfortunately, the food lasts only about 8 hours and after that we have to make do with what we are given or find at the other end of our trip.

Vegan Meals up in the friendly skies: include preservatives, coloring and a bunch of other stuff we wouldn't normally eat. But - this is the best option we have when we run out of food.

2. On planes, we request either the Raw (not always available and this tends to be fruit or cut carrot and celery sticks) or Vegan (although some are cooked with many processed Vegan ingredients) options for flights.

3. Clearly, our family’s highly raw/unprocessed Vegan diet tends to go down the drain pretty much from the get-go.

I love this old photo of my son snuggling with his step-grandmother. In the first 5 minutes after they met, it was clear they had already bonded so wonderfully.

4. We want to spend time and create strong bonds with our extended family and friends while traveling/visiting with them.

5. But, this means mealtimes more often than not emphasize non-raw and non-vegan foods.

6. We tend to eat out at mainstream restaurants a whole lot while traveling with others.

7. We have lengthy and careful discussions with servers about our family’s food preferences and allergies before ordering. It seems to us that waiters, on the whole, are not trained well on matters relating to Veganism or food allergies.  Neither are they made aware of the repercussions of food allergies. Sometimes, the problem may be that they don’t properly convey diner’s requests to chefs in their kitchens.  So, we like to take our time in our communication with them.

8. Raw Vegans are not the best for diners with nut and maple/agave allergies.  After talking very carefully to servers about our son’s allergies, my son has had very bad vomiting spells after eating/drinking something at Cafe Gratitude in San Francisco and Quintessence in NYC.  Needless to say, we are not going back to these 2 places to eat.  I can, however, recommend The Farm in the Philippines, Good Life Café in South Carolina and Pure Food and Wine in NYC.

9. We tend to eat what our host provides.  “When in Rome, do as the Roman’s do!” Right?  As guests, we are really at the mercy of our host, especially when they want to treat us all the time and/or we are in a foreign country.

10. I have discovered that food allergies are difficult for others to understand.

11. The concept of Raw Vegan foods are even harder for many to grasp.  I have had, many a time, cheese and bread on my “all Raw Vegan” salad or been offered regular hummus with cooked chickpeas.

12. Requests for Gluten- and Vegan-free food is akin to speaking a foreign language.

My son kept asking for the white bread served at most mainstream restaurants. Having said 'no' so many times (due to allergies), I finally ordered some wonderful Rice Bruschetta at a Vegan restaurant we visited towards the end of one of our trips. My son was extremely happy. So was I for having found a half-raw, half-cooked meal for him too!

13. My son will want to eat what others are eating: i.e. the cooked or processed refined foods.

14. A loved one recently baked 6 loaves of maple syrup white wheat bread while we visited her for 2 weeks – even after I asked her to please stop at the first loaf.  The breads just kept appearing though, which my son gladly ate and I tried to stop.  She was thrilled of course to watch my son devour her bread. On the other hand, I was focused on his rashes (c/o maple sugar).

15. This Mama will compromise only to a certain extent.

Using a handheld immersion blender in a plastic tub while traveling to make a lamb's lettuce smoothie for my family

16. If a kitchen and/or appliances are available, I supplement our family’s meals with fresh fruit for breakfast and fresh juices or green smoothies before a meal (that is if we have access to appliances and/or a kitchen).

Someone shared this on Facebook and made me LOL!

17. If a kitchen is available and if possible, we eat ‘in’ as much as we can and I end up a Mama in the Kitchen with no holiday.  But, I can’t complain!  We minimize allergies this way.

18. You cannot simply trust labels.  My son has even reacted to packaged Raw Vegan foods we have purchased while traveling to which, according to ingredients on labels, he isn’t allergic.

19. On every trip these past few months, my son has had some type of allergy, despite our efforts.  He has been very mucus-y on the plane home twice.

20. Raw Vegan food options are not always available when eating with family and friends…or they are harder to come by when traveling or sanitation is an issue in certain countries. When eating at mainstream restaurants or at people’s homes sometimes simply boiled, steamed or stir fried veggies are the best and only options.  In many health food stores in big cities, Raw Vegan Foods usually means a lot of packaged dehydrated foods… exactly the foods we try to avoid.

21. Raw Vegan food does not win over many people.  Some of my loved ones returned home to eat SPAM with white rice after a beautiful lunch at The Farm, Philippines.

22.  I, on the other hand, will have some type of food sensitivity after eating at a Raw Vegan restaurant: headaches, swelling or bloating from an excess of agave syrup, soy products, or nuts.

Juice Bars are worth it! Here in SAF London

23. To minimize allergies or sensitivities, we order simply at Raw Food Restaurants: an abundance of green juices (not smoothies) or simple Salads, and avoid other foods altogether (unless the server/chef can be 100% clear on the ingredients used).

The food was so delicious, I made sure I bought their cookbook as soon as we got home!

Food For Thought in Covent Garden will win over Omnivores anytime for taste and bang for buck! Just be prepared for small spaces and a communal-type feel.

24. Cooked Vegan foods, on the other hand, have been the best way for us to introduce family and friends to the Vegan diet. My mother gave us a cooked Vegan party when we visited her.  My friends thought they would have to lug their families to McDonald’s afterwards – but they admitted to loving the food by my Vegan Chef cousin!  They all had second helpings of the healthy mains and the desserts!  And no trip to McDonald’s afterwards!

I got an "That doesn't look very good at all!" comment for my salad here.

25. Prepare yourself for negative comments from loved ones about your food. Yes, even those who say they understand and would love to be Raw Vegan. I have had an ugly grimace directed at my food with a “I would NOT like to eat that!”, “is that all?”, “how do you get your protein?”, “yuck! how do you eat that!” And all in front of my son too, who takes it all in.

26. People somehow forget about your family’s diet and lifestyle choice, no matter how close they are to you.  I have had a platter of Steak placed under our noses blatantly at dinner with a smile and a “here, you will love this”; baked pastry treats full of syrup, butter and refined flour placed in front of my son while he, as most kids will, drools; salmon offered to us which they know was my son’s favourite fish before our kitchen turned Vegan.

27. The good outweigh the bad.  What is important is that we are surrounded by people we love and who love us back.

28. By the end of the trip, I am always itching to return to my own kitchen, I can’t wait to shop at my own local health food store and I can’t wait to eat healthier food.

29. After returning home, it is always just a little harder to get my son to eat as healthily as he used to.  And I am OK with this too because after traveling for the past 6 months, I know in a day or two, he’ll be asking for his fave smoothie and his fave kale salad!

30. And at the end of the day, I love what traveling does for our family.

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18 Responses to “30 Lessons this Raw Vegan Mama Learned from Traveling and Dining Out with Omnivore Loved Ones”

  1. Devin Duane Dixon March 4, 2012 at 5:04 pm #

    Eating raw for just three days will change someones life…why won’t people at least try it…it is sad…but we can only be beacons of light and health for those that do not see the light…live love laugh…

    • Mama In The Kitchen March 4, 2012 at 6:15 pm #

      Hi Devin! I think people are not willing to change… I think a lot of them think we eat carrots with dip… I think they just love the foods they have been brought up with… The challenge for me (and I think a lot of Raw Vegans) is how not to alienate others or self while dining out with others…

      • Devin Duane Dixon March 4, 2012 at 6:22 pm #

        I could not agree with you more…when we are teaching a new person about the health benefits of raw and or raw vegetarianism we stress that when they go to friends and family they should be polite and eat what is served…have a great day…are you familiar with Forks Over Knives? http://www.forksoverknives.com/

      • Mama In The Kitchen March 4, 2012 at 8:22 pm #

        I love what you say here: “we stress that when they go to friends and family they should be polite and eat what is served”. I’m sure you have saved a whole lot of people from social stress!!! Yes. I love Forks Over Knives!!! Thanks Devin!

      • Devin Duane Dixon March 10, 2012 at 2:21 pm #

        That is the challenge for sure. We have found that when we entertain we have success in helping people discover the world of raw food. We have nut milk parties or juicing parties (always sweet tasting for newbies) and we never want to tell someone they are wrong for eating a certain way…let them discover that on their own…love and all green lights

      • Mama In The Kitchen March 11, 2012 at 3:05 pm #

        Ditto: “we never want to tell someone they are wrong for eating a certain way.” We too want to be able to be part of the community in a positive way!

  2. Peace, Love, Fabulous March 4, 2012 at 5:36 pm #

    Awesome information…I have just started experimenting with raw foods and have had a hard time going out to eat! You are amazing! (:

    • Mama In The Kitchen March 4, 2012 at 6:13 pm #

      Thank you Rachel! Good luck! You know – the easiest restaurants for us to visit are Asian restaurants, esp Japanese for salads and Vegan sushi (you can even ask them to not include rice). When going out to Western restaurants, I order salads and remind the waiter not to include cheese or bread – but sometimes these salads are very basic and not as nutritious as salads you would normally eat everyday on a raw vegan diet. Let me know if I can help you with anything!

  3. theslowlowdown March 7, 2012 at 4:18 pm #

    Nice to see someone so committed to eating right!

  4. Laura March 8, 2012 at 12:35 pm #

    Visiting from Amy’s blog, a nest for all seasons. Very interesting post – I am not familiar with your chosen way of eating (beyond the very, very basics) and I find it interesting! I think it’s great you’re making the choice to travel and be with family, even when it’s not easy. Hopefully the non-meal times go a lot more smoothly!!

    • Mama In The Kitchen March 8, 2012 at 7:39 pm #

      Hi Laura! Yes, non-meal times are much easier and smoother… 😉 It is worth being with extended family. It enriches our lives in many other ways. By the way, please do send me a link to Amy’s blog. And thanks for visiting!

  5. the RA Vegan March 30, 2012 at 5:20 pm #

    Thanks so much for suggesting this post on my facebook page! I am excited about our upcoming vacation but a little concerned about what the food situation will be like. But I’m trying to prepare myself and I’m excited to have time with my family exploring another area!

  6. Ysabelle July 2, 2013 at 4:54 am #

    Nice article, definitely helped me and now I’m off to prepare food for my 12+ hour flights. Thanks!

    P.S. Love your blog.
    P.P.S. Marie is your cousin?! Small world, I always end up going to her classes whenever I’m in the Philippines.

    • MITK July 3, 2013 at 9:04 pm #

      Hi Ysabelle! I just checked your blog too. AWESOME!!! Have fun on your flight back! 😉 Now… where did you eat?

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