16 May 2013

Where not to travel as a vegan

 If you’re like my husband and me, you want a no-fuss vacation where you can simply relax on the beach and not worry about a thing. However, this has become much more difficult since becoming vegan, and it shouldn’t be!

My husband and I chose an all-inclusive Puerto Vallarta beach resort in Mexico for our spring vacation, and instead of the no-fuss, no-stress we were expecting; we realized that our problems were far more complicated than staying somewhere outside of the all-inclusive and exploring local restaurants on our own. We would have actually been much safer staying outside of a resort and not wasting all of our money on the resort’s food (or lack of, I should say).

When we were looking into all-inclusive resorts, we were a bit skeptical that there may not be enough vegan food options for us to eat. Because of our concern, I had contacted the resort via email and explained our situation. They kindly sent over their vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free menus for us to review. Since it looked like the resort had so many options, we booked our trip and were relieved that we could stay on the resort and wouldn’t have to venture off. We felt much more comfortable staying at the resort and not having to leave for anything.

When we arrived at the resort, we learned that the resort had only two sit-down restaurants for dinner, and everything else was a buffet. So, basically all of our meals would consist of buffets for five days. Since we arrived late the first night, we missed the sit down dinners and had to eat at the buffet. This was our first disappointment, only an hour after arriving.

The next disappointment came when breakfast arrived and we had to eat at another buffet for breakfast, and again at lunch. Breakfast consisted of fruit and a hash brown potato and lunch was French fries and tortilla chips and salsa. Thankfully, we were able to make dinner reservations for our second and third night. We were able to eat vegetable fajitas one night and vegan basil pesto spaghetti the other—both vegan! We were very pleased, but it was a hassle even getting those.

"Caprese Salad"- the vegan version was just 4 tomatoes
It turned out that none of the vegetarian options that had been emailed to me previously were even served at the resort—we were not sure if the menu had recently changed or what the deal was, but the only vegan options were the ones that we had to modify and make sure that they were actually vegan. The servers seemed annoyed that we were asking questions and it didn’t help that they didn’t speak any English, and we knew very little Spanish.

Thankfully, we were able to have two meals during our five-day vacation (four nights, five days), or we would have felt far more terrible than we did. As vegans who are always snacking, we were not used to surviving off of simply fruit for breakfast, raw vegetables, salads, French fries or baked potatoes, and chips and salsa for five consecutive days! We wanted our rice and beans, which you would expect for a Mexican resort! We were so wrong.

Since our last night was on Cinco De Mayo, the resort had a larger Mexican buffet but there were still no beans (or none that looked safe enough to eat, anyway). However, we were finally able to find tortillas so we could put roasted vegetables in them with guacamole. This felt like a lifesaver. We were so hungry and we were so disappointed that we paid for an all-inclusive when it felt like we barely ate anything at all.

Vegetable Fajitas
In conclusion, we learned our lesson to not stay at an all-inclusive resort again. We won’t risk it again, and plus, it was a bit uncomfortable taking food from a buffet that mostly contains non-vegan or non-vegetarian items. It really took a lot away from our vacation experience and we highly recommend that vegans do not stay at an all-inclusive, unless of course, it’s a vegan all-inclusive, or you know for a fact that the resort is vegan-friendly.

We were wise enough to bring a carton of shelf-stable rice milk and some granola bars and crackers with us so we could snack on them during the day. I am sad to report that our best meal was at the Phoenix, Arizona airport on the way home when we were finally able to get our vegetarian bean and rice burrito! After eating the burrito, we felt absolutely revived. It’s amazing how great beans and grains can make a person feel.

On our next vacation, we plan to explore one of the many vegan-friendly cities in the United States, and we plan to eat a lot.

Alexandra Beane | Facebook | Twitter
Minnesota Alexandra is a lover of all animals, but has a soft spot for especially dogs and rabbits. She believes that life is not complete without an animal to love. Alexandra is highly passionate about animals and animal rights, and wants to raise awareness of the cruelty that many animals suffer in the best way she knows how, and this is by written word. Alexandra is a recent graduate of Metropolitan State University in Minnesota, with a degree in Professional Writing and a minor in Creative Writing. She absolutely loves to write news and creative nonfiction, and obsesses over spelling and grammar.

Photo credit:cc:flickr.com/photos/hbarrison