When you find yourself being invited to attend a highly traditional destination wedding that is by no means vegan let alone raw vegan, you may begin to panic. How in the world will I survive and not seem like the neediest, pickiest, craziest luny in the bunch? Have no fear friends, I experienced this firsthand a couple weeks back, and I learned quite a bit of insights from the experience. These steps can be adjusted to accommodate anyone with a special diet!
My situation: a destination wedding in Dallas at an upscale resort. Think stereotypical urban romantic get-away event with multiple lunches and dinners at expensive American steak and seafood restaurants. Ok, deep breath. Add to that staying in a hotel room for 4 nights that only has a mini bar. Now you get the picture.
1. Be really clear on why you are going. Even if you feel like you do not want to go at all, are being forced to, have absolutely no choice, or would be chastised and mistreated if you chose not to go, realize that you are making the choice to go. You are responsible for your experience.
Set an intention about why you are there. For me, I honed in on my desire to support the person who was getting married. I looked forward to the connection and growth that would occur as a result of spending lots of time with my aunt and uncle who live far away from me. I accepted the challenge to adhere to the practices that keep me healthy and sane even while traveling and having an emotionally intensive experience: meditation, yoga, lowfat raw vegan diet, prayer, journaling, blogging, and recovery friends, readings, and principles. Your intention will help you cultivate a mindset that will allow you to make the most of the experience.
2. Stick to your routine as much as possible. If you meditate every morning keep doing that. If you have a favorite yoga nidra or other audio you listen to before bed, use that. Keep things the same as much as you can in your new environment. This will create a safe space within yourself to explore, play, be present, and deal with any obstacles, challenges, or difficult emotions you may face.
By creating a safe, healthy environment for yourself, you are being the loving parent within yourself taking care of your inner child so that both of you can get the most out of your experience. If you’re doing a lot of the same practices and techniques you use to stay healthy day to day, you will naturally be able to stay raw or make the specific food choices that work best for your body, mind, and spirit.
3. If possible, drive to the wedding or rent a car. The car is freedom. It provides you with choices! Having transportation will allow you to go to the store or market whenever you need to and check out the places you want to visit in your free time.
For sober individuals and those who choose not to drink, it will allow you to offer a service to yourself and other guests to ensure safe transportation. You have the option to leave if everyone is drinking heavily or going to a bar after an event.
It will also provide you with the choice to leave a meal when you are ready to go. If you are tired, hungry, emotionally unsettled, or otherwise needing to go, you can!
4. Bring what you need to stay healthy. This is essential. I brought food, books, my laptop, and a variety of clothes to suit everything from formal occasions to yoga classes.
Bring produce that will stay fresh at room temperature. Watermelons, bananas, and citrus are all good choices as well as any fruit that is ripe and ready to eat or almost ripe.
Bring any portable kitchen equipment you may need. I brought a good knife, cutting board, and spiralizer. If you’re a smoothie lover, take your blender!
5. If you have a fridge, use it! If you’re stuck with a junk-laden mini-bar, politely ask housekeeping if it would be possible for them to empty it so you can use it for your food. I stuffed my mini-bar with okra, cucumbers, and tomatoes. You’d be surprised how much can fit in a mini-bar with a little intention and skill.
6. Eat a solid meal every morning. Even if you’re not super hungry, it’s a good idea to have breakfast. I usually ate a good bit of watermelon and had a green juice. This way I was ok when I was served restaurant-sized salad with all the veggies and fruits they had, which filled me up but only added up to about 200 calories.
7. When you eat out, kindly let the waiter know your needs and preferences early on. With a big smile and lots of charm, I shared that I was raw vegan and asked if it would be possible to have a large salad (show with hands) piled high with all the raw fruits and veggies they have. Then I listed all that I had seen on the menu in various dishes.
Each waiter was really kind and worked with the chef to do their best to accommodate me. Ask for what you want and be gracious even if it’s not good or not enough food. Remember you are not there for delicious food. You are there to realize your own intention and likely to support your friend or family member through their big life event.
8. Have support and be accountable. Tell a friend or someone you trust about your situation and ask for their support through the experience. I was fortunate enough to be in communication with other vegan and raw friends and my recovery support network throughout the event. Thankfully, my aunt and uncle follow a whole foods plant-based lifestyle, and they supported me all the way. We helped each other stay on track mentally, physically, and spiritually, and enjoyed daily trips to Whole Foods together.
9. Have your own celebratory meal! Everyone else has had their fabulous meals at restaurants of their choice, and you should too! If there’s a restaurant nearby that you’d love to dine at, take yourself out on a date! I had a great time at Be Raw in Dallas. If there’s no restaurant you’re drawn to, make yourself something really special when you get home.
Do you have any tips or tricks you use to stay on track when you’re out of your element? Please share your experiences in the comments below!