Saturday, November 7, 2015

Reflections on Voluntourism.

Location: Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia
The newly-named but long-existent voluntourism industry is rife with potential problems. People project their culture's values on cultures they view as "lesser." People start initiatives that matter to them, without listening to what matters to the community. Even when a project is responsive to community voice and values, it is often not sustainable. The privileged among us like to view ourselves as white knights who can swoop in and make everything better, when often we are really just bulls in china shops: wreaking havoc, interrupting functional systems, creating dependencies, and leaving things worse off than when we got there.

So if we tourists want to find some useful ways to fill our time, how do we go about doing it conscientiously?

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Traveling while Vegetarian.

Location: Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia
People always ask me if it's hard to eat vegetarian when I travel. Spoiler alert: it's actually not hard at all. Finding meals that aren't meat-centric may seem challenging to those of us from the U.S. (or other countries where excess is king). But the truth is, lots of other cultures know how to create delicious plant-based meals much better than we do. Chances are, if you already enjoy vegetarian food, you won't have much trouble at all.

But for those of you looking for concrete tips, here are my rules for eating vegetarian on the road...

 1. Eat your veggies.

Talk about preaching to the choir, right? But it is easy to fall into the rice-and-beans routine, especially at places that serve mostly meat dishes. Make a point of including veggies in each meal, even if it's not convenient. Figure out how to safely cook produce in your kitchen, or ask your vendor if it's possible to add vegetables even if you don't see that on the menu.