Guest post by Liz Longacre, founder of Gentle Living
Traveling abroad as a vegan can get tricky. Some countries just aren’t as vegan-friendly as others. Traveling with vegan children gets even more complicated. Going on an African safari as a vegan family? Impossible?
Where are you going to find food? Will your tour guides make sure your vegan requirements are taken care of? Will you have to feed your children junk food the whole time to get by?
While veganism is growing, the travel industry is a long way away from truly recognizing this market. And unfortunately, animals are often exploited through tourism instead of protected by it.
When I started selling vegan safaris in Tanzania through my boutique travel company, Your Time Travels, I had no idea if they were going to work well. Would my local guides take vegan restrictions seriously? Is veganism even understood in Tanzania? Would they really deliver on everything I was asking them to do?
Somehow I serendipitously lucked out and found local guides in Tanzania, a top safari destination, who go above and beyond when it comes to my very detailed vegan safari food requirements. Unlike most local guides who I’ve presented this request to, they actually seem to enjoy the challenge of creating vegan safaris. They’ve been the most amazing people to work with and have delivered over and over again when it comes to making sure vegan clients are well fed.
To my surprise my local guides recently invited me on a vegan safari so I could experience what I’ve been selling firsthand. Needless to say, our safari was amazing and the people I work with were even more wonderful than I imagined. Below are some pictures of the amazing, healthy and fresh food we ate in Tanzania.
Traveling on safari with a company that doesn’t take your food requirements seriously can be tricky. You can’t walk to a nearby restaurant, you have to rely on your guides, your private chefs, and/or the hotels you’re staying at to make sure your food needs are being met.
While in Africa I met another vegan couple on safari who said that once the travel company they hired took their money, they no longer cared about their food restrictions. They were not given vegan meals and they both ended up getting food poisoning and being sick for four days straight. What a way to ruin a safari!
Safaris are a great travel option for families (provided a doctor approves any necessary vaccinations and malaria pills for your children). If you’re vegan, you likely don’t take your children to many zoos or circuses to see animals, as so many other parents do. On safari you get to introduce your children to the animal world as it should be, where animals are roaming free in protected parks living the way nature intended. Tourist dollars are what protect these parks from poachers and land destruction.
Note: Unfortunately there are some people who choose to go to Africa to kill its animals, through hunting safaris (in designated parks). Tourism allows for that. As long as you’re spending your money responsibly, you can help use tourism as a tool for animal welfare, not as a weapon against it.
A few ways to ensure your children love their safari adventure:
• Go on shorter safari drives so children don’t get antsy. During the safari drives the guides make sure to educate the children on everything they’re seeing to keep them engaged. Some of the animals they’ll see in Tanzania include elephants, zebras, giraffes, buffaloes, wildebeests, hippos, rhinos, lions, leopards, cheetahs, monkeys, gazelles, elands, hyenas, ostriches, and an endless variety of bird species.
• Entertain them with a camera, binoculars and games while on safari.
• Stay in family friendly hotels with swimming pools, TVs, soccer, cards, arts & crafts, games, and live entertainment. There are even babysitting options so parents can have some time alone.
• Introduce them to local tribes to learn cultural dances and traditions.
• Explore different national parks each day with different
concentrations of animal species.
• Arrange outdoor picnic lunches.
• Visit a local orphanage.
• End your vacation on the beautiful beaches of Zanzibar, islands off the coast of Tanzania, where children can enjoy the beach and swimming pool.
As an animal lover, being on safari was an emotionally moving experience. You’re surrounded by animals and nature for as far as you can see. It was so nice to be in a country where there were no elephant rides or other animal performances. Just animals roaming freely. A lion even walked over to our truck to lie in the shade of our vehicle after it was done eating (not a usual occurrence) and herds of elephants seemed to constantly appear out of nowhere. What a great way to educate your children on the animal kingdom.
If you are interested in booking a vegan family safari, you can contact Liz at email@example.com. For more information on these safaris click here. To see a sample family safari itinerary click here.
Editor's Note: Having been to Africa, I can attest to the fact that there is no place on earth like it. In 2002, I went to South Africa for 9-weeks and volunteered helping animals. It was one of the best experiences of my life. That is why I plan on taking my daughter there once she gets a little bit older. I want her to see wild animals living in their natural environment. As she gets older she will understand (and hopefully embrace) the many reasons why we avoid artifical places where animals live such as zoos, aquariums, circuses and other venues in which animals are denied many of their basic instincts, desires, and needs, and often suffer from loneliness, fear, anxiety and despair.
Liz Longacre is the founder of Gentle Living. Gentle Living addresses all aspects of living a gentle but powerful life. From self-love, to animal welfare, to travel, to home decor, to ethical beauty & fashion, to an advice column, it’s all gentle; not weak, just gentle. Being gentle is sometimes the most powerful thing you can do for yourself and the world around you. Gentle Living has a travel department called Your Time Travels.