For my 21st birthday this year, time was certainly on my side as it fell perfectly during my spring break. Even luckier, I was given the chance to celebrate in Hawaii for four days. I’m still a bit astounded at how fortunate I am to receive such an amazing birthday gift, and I’m even more grateful. To be surrounded by such natural beauty, be it rolling mountains in the distance, the crystal blue ocean, or the most magical sunsets… I’m still at a loss for words.
I felt such a strong connection to nature rooted deep within me the entire time. It definitely inspired a lot of reflecting on how I fit into this vast universe and chaotic life.
On the morning of my birthday, I went hiking at Diamond Head Crater. There has been nothing quite as humbling as when I stood at the highest point of the mountain and looked out at everything around me.
In that moment, I felt so small, but I also felt like such an integral part to this great entity of life on Earth. We all share a home here on this planet, and it’s so important to work together to appreciate and keep it thriving. Of course, that got me thinking about the role veganism plays in all of that. There is so much evidence out there about the environmental devastation caused by the meat, dairy, and egg industries. Going vegan is such a simple contribution that everyone can do for the benefit of this gorgeous planet we are lucky enough to call our home.
It’s so funny to me when people view going vegan as a restriction to living life fully, especially when it has the ability to make the best life possible for individuals, animals, and the planet. This notion seems especially prevalent in terms of traveling where people don’t think they can get the most out of a trip if they don’t try certain non-vegan foods. Because of this, I made a point to take note on how being vegan affected my trip. Overall, I found it very easy to get the most out of my experience in Hawaii, and I still got to try some pretty phenomenal food.
I stayed at the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani in Waikiki, with plenty of great restaurants within walking distance. In fact, just down the road was a super vegan-friendly restaurant called Ruffage Natural Foods. They even had a menu item called the “Totally Vegan Special”! I went there the first night for takeout and ordered the vegan burrito plate, which came with a generous portion of brown rice, romaine, vegan chili, and a flour tortilla on the side- it was delicious. I wish I were able to explore their menu more because they had a lot of options that sounded awesome.
During my days on the trip when we would be out hiking or at the beach, I made sure to keep snacks with me at all times. I brought three bags of dried pitted dates with me on the trip to stay satisfied and fueled. Since I was in Hawaii, I also took advantage of the fact that macadamia nuts are cheaper there, so I bought a big bag, and I’d eat a small handful of those from time to time.
(Chickens are friends, not food!)
We ventured to the North Shore one day, and along the local roads were different brightly colored food trucks. My step-mom made sure we went to an acai bowl food truck that she had been to on previous trips. I got one topped with granola, banana, coconut flakes, and blueberries. As I ate it, I kept repeating out loud that I could eat an acai bowl every day for the rest of my life. Looking back, I still stand by that statement.
Later that evening, I went to the Turtle Bay Resort (where Forgetting Sarah Marshall was filmed) to sit at the poolside bar and watch a classic Hawaii sunset. I ordered a mai tai and a basket of chips with salsa and guacamole. I found generally that the resort bars and restaurants did not have many vegan options, but I could always rely on chips and salsa as an appetizer staple.
…and yet again the sunset surpassed all of my expectations.
My last day in Hawaii was pretty relaxed; we spent most of our time in the hotel room catching up on some sleep and packing before our 10 hour flight back to New Jersey. However, we did make a point to go out for lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant around the corner from the hotel called Pho Old Saigon. First, my step-mom and I split vegetable spring rolls that we ate with fresh mint, rice noodles, cucumber, and hoisin sauce, all wrapped in a large romaine leaf. It was one of the best flavor combinations I’ve ever tasted. Then, we both ordered vegan pho- also amazing. I really appreciated their menu because it explicitly noted the items that were vegetarian, which made ordering so much easier. I wish more places did that!
Needless to say, this was one of the best experiences of my life that I will keep with me for a very long time.
Also, this post kicks off my series of Vegan Travel posts that I will be writing over the next few months, especially in the summer when I study abroad. So be on the look out for that. 🙂
Thanks for reading and have a beautiful day!