Tell us a bit about yourself in a nutshell.
I’m an animal loving, vegan travel blogger with 39 countries under my belt. At 28, I quit my job of seven years to go travelling (terrified that society was insisting that I was too old to be doing it). I settled in Thailand for two years. I took quickly to Thai life, working six-day weeks under the laid-back management of my Thai bosses in their travel shop. I gave out advice for travel, tours, flights and hotels on a daily basis, and spent my free time learning about social media and how to share my experiences. I love exploring the world as a solo woman and showing others how it can be done on a tight budget.
How did you first start writing about veganism/vegetarianism and travel?
I used to run a general blog with a friend. She covered beauty and fashion and I covered travel and lifestyle. It became conflicted when she wanted to write about products by brands that tested on animals. We decided to go our separate ways and save the friendship.
By this point I was already travelling a lot, pouring my money into visiting new places and searching out veggie-friendly food stops. More and more people started coming to me for travel advice, and setting up a blog seemed like the next logical step. Veganism was my niche. There are tons of generic travel blogs out there, but veganism was still something that a lot of them weren’t incorporating into their travel advice. I wanted to show people that you could visit meat-loving countries on a budget, and still eat cruelty free.
Do you think it’s getting easier or harder to be an ethical traveller?
I read the UN calculated that the combined climate change emissions of animals bred for their meat were about 18% of the global total. That’s more than cars, planes and all other forms of transport put together! From that perspective, I’d like to think that my vegan diet contributes to resolving all of this. I’ve definitely seen a global difference in the options available to vegans. Whether it’s down to general food trends (veganism is certainly having a moment right now), or the fact that people are more environmentally conscious, demand is increasing. As a result, availability is also increasing.
My first trip to Asia was tough. In more remote areas, I would often be stuck eating boiled rice and cucumber for days on end. During my most recent trip, I found that most 7Elevens were offering some kind of animal free ready meal/noodle cup. In Bangkok, I discovered that three new vegan restaurants had sprung up in the main tourist districts alone.
In regards to general travel, I feel a little conflicted in myself. How can I justify all the flights I make on my ethical traveller status? Overall, the aviation industry consumes a terrifying 1.5 billion barrels of oil a year, contributing around two percent of total carbon emissions around the world. Airlines are becoming savvy to their customers concerns on this topic, and many now provide a carbon offset option when booking your flight. Money donated goes towards programmes that aim to balance your carbon emissions out, The CarbonFund Foundation, for example. Flying economy (to save airline space) and packing lighter also mean you doing more to travel eco-friendly.
How do you think animal welfare and feminism interact or relate to each other?
My opinions (and most likely, my answer) on this may be regarded as controversial, but animal welfare has a lot in common with feminism. My argument includes the way that the meat industry uses animals to normalise rape culture. A life of forced insemination and pregnancy is something we just wouldn’t stand for in human culture, so why would we support it in terms of another species? The torture inflicted on a lot of these creatures is specific to their sex, with ‘Rape Racks’ (an actual industry term!) restraining females from resisting. There are so many other similarities between feminist issues and the way humans treat animals, that there’s definitely room for further discussion.
What has been a standout trip for you in your travels?
During a three-day slow boat trip from the North of Thailand down to Luang Prabang, Laos, I met a retired headmistress from Australia who had opened up a rescue centre for children who had been sex trafficked. After a day and a half of sharing a thin boat with large groups of beer-guzzling twenty-somethings, she was a breath of fresh air.
Her name was Robyn, and I spent the rest of our journey listening to the stories and horrors of some of the children she had rescued; teenage girls who had been sold into the sex trade as young as three years old, so messed up from their experiences that they found it difficult to communicate. She told me about excursions they had made to beaches to collect the bodies of boys, as young as five, who had been sold to fishing boats, had become sick, and were thrown overboard.
What are you excited about for the next six months?
As I previously mentioned, veganism is definitely having a moment right now, so I’m really excited to see how this affects the cruelty free consumer market. I have a couple of little project ideas lined up to coincide with its growth, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed! On a similarly selfish note, this demand is making it a lot easier for me to travel with my vegan diet, and I’m excited to see where that takes my posts. The last six months, I’ve been re-visiting a lot of my old pieces to tidy them up, and in 2018 I’m looking to travel to Japan and India to build on some exciting new vegan content.
Where can people read more about your travels and advice?
My personal pieces can all be found on my blog: https://myveggietravels.com/
For a light-hearted scrolling, you can also find me over on Instagram: :https://www.instagram.com/sarahscotland/?hl=en
I also love getting involved in Twitter’s travel chats, and you can come get involved in these by following me: https://twitter.com/myveggietravels