So before this blog starts, I want to point out this was written by my fellow travel companion, Connor. He expressed his wish to put down in words some thoughts and feelings he had about the last 6 month or so of his life and I was more than happy to oblige. I hope it gives everyone a good insight into life on the road, travelling and his thought on turning vegan. I’m sure it’s also nice to get a different perspective on things. So thanks very much mate, let’s hope we can make more of a feature of these guest blogs (if anyone wants to feature please get in touch). Moving forward I aim to put out another blog in the next few weeks updating everyone about life in Aus. Plus I plan to continue adding to my travel tips content which I hope people are finding useful. That’s enough from me over to Connor.
Travelling, Veganism and Life
I wanted to share my overall experiences of travelling, my views on Veganism and thoughts on how this has all impacted my life. Calum has kindly agreed to let me do a guest feature on his blog. Apologies for any spelling or grammar mistakes, I failed English the first time in school and writing has never been my strong suit. I did, however, find that writing this came easy though and a better way for me to express my thoughts.
“I travel because it makes me realize how much I haven’t seen, how much I’m not going to see, and how much I still need to see.”
– Carew Papritz
I had been interested in travelling a long time before we all decided to go to Asia, it had been something I had spoken about doing with my girlfriends in previous relationships. Back then I did not have enough drive or there were other things to focus on such as work, so I never made the decision to follow through with it. After making the decision now and travelling for the last six months, I can honestly say it is the best decision I have made in my life. As with anything in life, there is always ups and downs but travelling has been the most enjoyable and positive experience. Six months travelling Asia flew by, although they do say time flies when you are having fun and I had a great time. I visited amazing countries, met interesting people and saw the most beautiful scenery. I have said it many times before, but I would not want to be doing anything else than what I am doing now. If you have kept up to date with Calum’s blogs, you’ll know all the places we have visited so I just wanted to briefly cover my personal three favourites. It’s hard to decide which one was the best because they were all good for different reasons.
In Vietnam, I had the best overall travel experience and the people there were so very friendly, we also saw a lot of different parts of the country (although there is so much more to see). The views when we went motorbiking in the north of Vietnam were amazing. I did not have the best time here though as I fell off my bike twice and had to go to the hospital as I cut my leg and it got infected. Although this happened, it’s not what I would remember most about the experience. It did knock my confidence, but I am now back on the bikes. In the north, we got to watch and celebrate as Vietnam won the Asian Football Cup. During the game, we ate and drank with the locals whose culture is very social as you would go to a different table, introduce yourself and then have a shot of the local rice wine. There were then huge celebrations in the streets and we were dancing with massive crowds. This was one of my favourite experiences whilst travelling. Vietnam had some interesting cities too, Hanoi reminded me of a city in Europe especially as we stayed across the street from a Cathedral. We also went on a cool walking tour so got to see quite a lot. Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) was very hectic, but it was both cool and crazy to get a moped taxi around the city. There are thousands of mopeds in the traffic just weaving through each other.
The Philippines was the most beautiful country I have ever been to. It has the most stunning beaches and scenery. The food here was amazing too, although I ate mainly pizza and Mexican food. On Calum’s birthday, we went on a private boat tour to some beaches that were deserted so it was just us on the beach, music, drinks and a lunch buffet. Could not have asked for a better day spent with some great people too. The snorkelling too was great as the Philippines has the clearest bluest water and amazing marine life. At one point Fred and I went travelling on our own to a Volcano island, which had a small island off the coast that was all sand, so it was like a beach in the middle of the sea that looked back on the island. That is a view I will never forget and is up there with the best view I have ever seen. On this island, we also went on a hike up the Volcano and I did not struggle anywhere near as much as I assumed I would. Unfortunately, it was too cloudy to see any views but still feels like a good achievement. We also went on the best boat party I have ever been on, however, my memory of that is a bit hazy.
Indonesia was a surprise for me, I was not expecting much from this country, but I had not looked into it that much before we arrived. The country was great, but I could have honestly been anywhere in the world as what really made it a such a good experience was the people I met there. The group we travelled with here were the best people I met during travelling as we all clicked instantly. After spending a few days together, we pretty much all decided to travel the whole of Indonesia as a group, luckily most of us arrived the same time, so we were able to spend a whole month together. Bali, in particular, a place called Canggu had a vibe that I really liked. It’s hard to explain but was a bit hipster and had a lot of little shops and cafes. I liked it because it seemed chill and could see myself going back there in the future. The highlight of the trip was going to an island called Gili Trawangan with the group I mentioned earlier. There was roughly around 10 of us and we spent quite a few days here and got even closer, went out together and shared some great experiences. One of these experiences was magic mushrooms (sorry mum). It’s very interesting and hard to describe, but it was safe as we had someone that stayed sober looking after everyone. We didn’t really need someone looking after us as we all just sat on the beach and enjoyed the world around us. I also have not told my mum yet that I got another tattoo in Indonesia as I said I wouldn’t get any after Thailand, but I suppose she will know now. I don’t like it, so it will probably be removed in the next year or so. I might be a bit too impulsive sometimes, but it’s just one of those things you do while travelling.
I’ve had the best six months in Asia and I am already looking forward to the next places I want to Travel. I have a big list, but the main ones are Japan, New Zealand, Fiji and South America. The thing with travelling is you meet people who talk to you about the places they have been, and your list just gets longer and longer. At this point, I could not see myself stopping travelling for a long time and hopefully I will be able to afford this. I am also looking forward to going back home for a while and spending time with my friends and family. I don’t tell them anywhere near enough but I do miss them and think about them often. That’s why I am working in Australia, so I can keep going. It’s is also a country that I want to explore, and I have a list of things I want to see.
“Speciesism – a form of discrimination based on species membership. It involves treating members of one species as morally more important than members of other species even when their interests are equivalent. More precisely, speciesism is the failure to consider interests of equal strength to an equal extent because of the species of which the individuals are a member.”
About two months into travelling I decided to become Vegetarian, some people might see this as cliché of what happens when some people go travelling and the boys do say I am turning into a hippie but there was nothing specific due to travelling that influenced this decision. I had girlfriends in the past that had been Vegan and I was aware of the reasons why people decided to be Vegan, but like most people, I didn’t really think too much about it. I always believed it was a good thing to do and would praise people that choose that lifestyle, but I never thought enough about it to change my own. I could put this down to being too caught up in my own life and focused on other things such as work and my social life. I don’t think anyone is a bad person for eating meat or animal products, as I did for the last twenty-two years. The real problem is people are just not aware of where their food is coming from and don’t think about it. When we eat a burger, we don’t think I am eating a cow right now. We just see it as a food that we really enjoy, we eat it and move on.
What made me change from Vegetarian to Vegan is when I actually looked into the food industry and found out how things really are. Like I mentioned before I did not really consider how the food got to my plate and I had a completely different picture in my head of how the system worked. I would consider myself an animal lover, not as much as some others but I have always loved dogs and miss our dogs a lot (shout out to Molly and Alfie, R.I.P). I also like any animals, loved the zoo when I was younger and if I saw any other animals would always try and pet them. That’s one of the reasons I got rabies jab before I came out as I cannot trust myself not to pet animals. Going back to the food industry after witnessing what happens to the animals we consume, I could not consider myself an animal lover if I am contributing in any way to this. I don’t want to go into too much detail as I think this is something that you should investigate yourself and then come to your own conclusions, but I will link some content that changed my outlook on what I am eating.
I do want to mention one example that most people do not consider and that is Milk. If we ask ourselves why Cows produce milk, the answer is the same reason why humans produce milk. Animals (humans included) produce milk to feed their new-born babies. My assumption before I became more informed would have been, cows just produce milk all the time. It just had seemed to me before they were an animal that always produced milk. The truth is that cows are artificially inseminated then give birth to a calf. After birth, the calf is taken from the mother. If it’s a female calf it will be raised to produce more milk, if it’s a male calf it will be raised for beef. The reason it is taken away straight away is that the farmers do not want the calf to have any of the milk, because that means less for the consumer. Once the mother cow stops producing milk, the whole process is repeated. This will be the whole life of a dairy cow until it is too old to produce milk and then it will be used for beef. If you consider that whole process, imagine this happening to a human. It would be unthinkable and extremely cruel to subject a mother to this for her whole life. Just as any other animals cow can get stressed, feel pain and taking a child from its mother is incredibly painful and stressful, let alone having this happen repeatedly in your life. That is just one of many, many examples of how animals are treated cruelly for our benefit. I believe no matter if it’s a human or any other animal, no one should suffer for my own benefit.
Someone had said to me before when talking about Veganism “Ignorance is bliss”, at the time I didn’t really respond to it, because talking about Veganism it can sometimes lead to a heated discussion and I wouldn’t want to have that with my friends. I am not looking to preach to anyone unless they would like to discuss it and ask me questions. Like I said before I think it is better for people to seek out their own knowledge rather than have it forced upon them, but this is not an excuse for people to just ignore the truth. No big problems have ever been solved by people ignoring them and the reason I believe this is such a big issue is there are victims in this situation. Almost 500 million animals are suffering and being killed every day unnecessarily. We can survive without eating meat, so why wouldn’t we?
If you would like to do your own research or find out more information. I would highly recommend you watch ‘Earthlings’. As a disclaimer, this is a very upsetting and graphic video that covers not just the meat industry, but all the ways humans exploit animals from food, pets, clothing and science.
A great person to check out would be ‘Earthling Ed’. He is a Vegan activist that has many videos debating with lots of different people. The reason I like him is that he is very calm and collective when debating and presents himself in a very friendly way but is also extremely knowledgeable. The video below is not a debate, but a talk he has done about all the common arguments against Veganism.
A source for Vegan New, Blogs and Product review is Plant-Based News. They also have a good Instagram page that has lots of interesting infographics.
“This is the real secret of life — to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now and instead of calling it work, realize it is play.”
– Alan Watts
I think travelling has had a great improvement on my life. Back home I was not entirely happy with my job, I didn’t like going to the same office every day, looking at the same screen and commuting with the same other miserable looking people. That’s just my experience working in London, others may love it. I suppose that is one thing that keeps life interesting is that everyone is different and finds their own path to happiness. For me I needed to do something different and had a few ideas, one being going to university, another going back to Essex and working but nothing really stuck for me. One thing I have always wanted is true freedom to do whatever I wanted to do, and travelling has allowed me to do that. I’m still limited by the money I have, but that is the same for pretty much everyone in life and something that will not change in this society. Apart from this I could potentially get on a flight tomorrow and go anywhere in the world. I have no ties to a job, home or any real personal responsibilities. This is the freest I have ever felt and that really makes me happy.
As when I said everyone is different, travelling is not for everyone. For others, they want a comfortable job, a nice home and to start a family and there is nothing wrong with that. I could never tell anyone what would make them happy, that is for you to decide. I used to think like a lot of people have, what is the meaning of life and I think I have come to an answer that I like. If there is a God and he told us the meaning of life is to have children and procreate, would this make everyone happy? What about the people who don’t want children? Everyone’s life has a different meaning, but the one thing we all have in common is we want to be happy. You must figure out what makes you happy and make that your life. Although you should always make sure that it does not cause anyone else to be unhappy. That may not be very helpful, but I am still figuring it out for myself. I just know I am happier now than before I can remember.
Apart from travelling one thing that has made me happy is self-improvement. I always want to try and be better without putting pressure on myself. I suppose I could refer back to Veganism because I feel this is a positive change I have made that makes me feel I am doing the right thing and improving others lives. That is one of the biggest things that makes me happy is to know others around me are too and doing something to positively affect them. Most of the time I just try and be kind, friendly and not judge everyone around me. I’m still working on not judging people, but I think it is natural sometimes. I am also working on improving my self-image by working out and eating right, I have always had an ideal body image in my head and still got a way to go to get there. However, I am much more comfortable with who I am and that helps my confidence. I feel travelling has made me a more confident person, this may be by just interacting and meeting new people all the time. You are socialising all the time and everyone you meet is very friendly and relaxed, so this creates a nice environment. I used to consider myself an introvert most of the time, but when I look back I realize I always enjoyed socializing and going out with friends. That is another thing that makes me happy, probably the most important one and that is my friends both the new ones I made and the old ones that will be lifelong friends (shout out to Calum, Fred and Ollie).
One thing that I am still working on to is trying to “live in the moment” as they say. I think this is one of the best things you can aim to do in life. There is no point worrying about that past as it’s already gone, and you should try not to worry about the future as it doesn’t exist yet. It can be harder not to think about the future as we need some idea of what we will do next, but you can only impact what you are doing right now and ensure you enjoy yourself. Sometimes when travelling you become so used to seeing all these amazing things that you just have to stop thinking and just look around and really take in what you are seeing. As an example, most recently during farm work in Australia I have stopped to look around me and think even though this is not ideally what I want to be doing right now, it’s just amazing this is what I am doing with my life and I never expected a year ago I would be here now. Lastly, I am always trying to stay positive about everything. By lettings things get to you, you only make yourself upset. That’s easy to say and harder to put in practice and some situations are worse than others but taking a more relaxed approach to everything has made me feel much better. I have decided I don’t want a traditional life, I just want to enjoy myself and spend time with the people I love.