I was cleaning up around the house again this weekend, when a bag stuffed with pamphlets was found. The pamphlets were collected from across the U.S and Canada in 2000, my first overseas trip. It was exactly 19 years ago, give or take a week. There were tickets to amusement parks, maps of national parks, information from museums and menus from the many restaurants I ate at. Memories came flooding back at full speed, not to mention the countless reminders from my non-vegan days. By the time I thought the bag was emptied, one little slip of paper remained deep in its bowel. The slip was from a fortune cookie and it read: “The best prophet of the future is the past.”
Now, I can’t remember the exact time on the trip that I came into contact with this slip of wisdom but I find it intriguing that it surfaced again when I was remembering non-vegan travels past. In those times, there were some moments I remember from my non-vegan travel past that I am not proud of. I am not proud of that time I attended a rodeo in Calgary. I am not proud of that time I rode a camel in Jordan, and a donkey in Egypt and an elephant in Thailand. I am not proud of all those moments when I ate meat, dairy and eggs in their ‘traditional’ forms in the context of the local culture and my travel experience at the time.
I am grateful that I stumbled across this message. It reminded me that I can’t change my past. But what I can do, is enact change in my future. This is the change I already enacted back in late 2012 when I decided to go vegan. When I decided to go vegan, I decided from that moment I would no longer consume animal products, I would not participate in activities that exploit the lives and well-being of animals, I would not support animal cruelty no matter how loudly a culture shouts that said cruelty is acceptable.
This is a place from where we as travellers can create a better world, a better future for all beings we share this earth with. Our source of inspiration can, unexpectedly, come from our past. Our past can teach us what is possible for our future. Our past, and our past errors, can be our teachers.
In short, my travel past has taught me:
Instead of choosing the traditional animal-based meal…
Ask for a traditional plant-based meal that doesn’t contain any animal products or ask if a vegan version can be prepared
Instead of going on an elephant ride (or a ride involving an animal for that matter)…
Visit and volunteer at an ethical and reputable animal sanctuary
Instead of visiting a zoo…
Help a local conservation group that is in need of donations, whether be food, supplies or money
What better time to start making change for a kinder future that during the month of May?
So, has your past taught you how to shape your future for the benefit of all beings? I’d love to hear about your experiences and what advice your past has given you so you can navigate your better future.