One of the biggest challenges to my lifestyle as a Raw Vegan is traveling. Don't get me wrong, I love to travel. I love seeing new places and meeting new people. However, when you have a regiment of a certain diet, traveling can send you into an uncomfortable place.
For the next seven days I'll be traveling from New York to Baltimore and then back to New York. I have been blessed with many opportunities in life and this will be another good one I'm sure. First off I'll be visiting the Natural Products Expo East for my first time. For four out of the last five years, I've gone to Expo West in Anaheim, CA. Expo West is MASSIVE and is the main gathering for the who's who in the natural world. This year there was over 100,000 attendees making it the largest event at the Disney Convention Center. Expo East is about half the size, but is still a load of fun for anyone in my industry. I'm excited to get to go.
At Expo West this year back in March, I was honored to befriend the owner of a company called Nature's Answer. Frank Jr., their CEO and son of the founder, was relaxing on a couch in their booth at the show with his colleagues when I approached to ask some questions about their products. As soon as I asked for assistance, he popped up off the couch like he had sat on a tack. He vowed to make me a deal I couldn't refuse. He even jokingly told me he was going to pay me to take product.
I soon found myself sitting at a table dissecting their new products and giving my opinions and feedback to eager ears. For some reason, he and his formulators were incredibly intrigued by my thoughts and were taking extensive notes. After maybe 30 minutes of this, he told me I could buy as much of anything I wanted for an unbelievable discount. As I filled out my order sheet, Frank told me I needed to come visit their factory and see how the company actually works. He insisted on buying my flight, hotel, dinner, and whatever else it took to get me to visit. After all of this he gave me his cell number and told me to text him anytime for anything.
I left quite flattered and impressed at the level of attention and respect I was given. I didn't bother to contact him as I figured he was just another salesman full of hot air. Why waste my time chasing a free trip to New York when he wouldn't likely even answer his phone. Much to my disbelief, he texted me about a week later to remind me of the invitation. I said I would find time and he put me in touch with his people to arrange the accommodations.
SO, after visiting Expo East, I'll drive back up to Long Island to be "wined and dined" by a company I was already impressed with before all of this. I am very grateful that much of this trip won't cost me anything
However, to much of my dismay, most of the natural health world doesn't eat so healthy. While I'm browsing an expo full of free food, I avoid most of the tasty looking samples because of high sugar content, preservatives, random flavorings, and who knows what else. I instead look up nearby health food stores and raw vegan restaurants for my sustenance. Because this can be very expensive especially in a big city, I often travel with many pre-made snacks and a few meals.
On this trip I am taking (in my suitcase) two to three days worth of salad with dressing, raw granola, my version of a banana "go raw" bar, enough homemade shake mix and hemp protein for seven days, and a few coconut waters for said shakes. As soon as I land, I find the nearest store (preferably an independent health food store) to pick the or essentials like gallons of distilled water, fresh fruit and veggies, maybe some vegan yogurt, and anything else that catches my eye.
Doing this allows me to avoid spending money on up to 7 smoothies or unhealthy breakfasts, two to three lunches, and about seven to eight solid snacks. This can save me $100+ in food that is likely inferior to what I am used to eating. Then comes the trouble of people who want to go out to eat while I'm there. It is rather silly to try to avoid this directly, but I will suggest preference for somewhere that would likely have salad options or fruit bowls. Most hosts are all to happy to take you to a place they like with healthy options. I make the most out of what's available and remember that most of the world eats the equivalent to cardboard and industrial waste regularly without immediate negative impacts. Of course I plan to fast and cleanse upon my return home.
I know, I know, I sound like a total whiny food snob. Well that's because I am. In a world where GMOs, hormones, and prescription drugs and commonly found in our "food," I'm happy to say that I avoid that in (I'd say) 85% of my diet. That's only possible by being very very aware of all of the alternate definitions and names of ingredients, GMO hiding spots, and toxic preservatives. I'm blessed that I'm allowed to be awake to these things and strong enough to stand confidently without them.
This will be my last blog for a few days, since I'll be gone. If I have a chance I may sneak in a few posts about the Expo and my travels. Otherwise, I look forward to telling you all about is upon my return.