Friday, November 1, 2013

Life-Threatening Nut Allergies When You're Traveling and Not Allergic

Life-Threatening Nut Allergies When You're Not Allergic

As I prepare for my trip to the Dominican Republic next week, I'm again faced with the limited choices I have as a vegan. Traveling is a huge challenge for someone who doesn't eat meat, fish, poultry or diary.  Especially when one tends to eat healthy fresh foods.

I do recognize that there are times when eating the foods I typically eat is not possible. There are very few, if any, options in airports and on planes. So I pack foods that I do eat. Foods that travel well. Foods that last for the duration of my trip. Foods like seeds and nuts.

Last year at this time I went to Mexico. I had packed some almonds, raisins and sunflower seeds as my one and only meal both ways.

The day came to fly home. Breakfast was fresh fruit and a black coffee. No lunch at the airport, since the only item offered among the half-dozen restaurant outlets was a lettuce with tomato and cuke salad.

Not a problem. I had my own snack pack to tide me over for the 8+ hours until I'd be able to eat some real food.

We had just boarded and were about to taxi out. One of the flight attendants announced that their was someone on the flight with a life-threatening nut allergy. For the safety of this passenger, we were asked to keep any and all nut products packed away.

An almost 5-hour flight to another airport where we would be rushing for our connecting flight. And nothing for me to eat. But one does what one must in such circumstances. I let out a gentle c'est la vie sigh and kept my nuts securely packed away.

That was a year ago.

Yesterday I read a letter in the opinion section of my local newspaper. There has been quite a bit of news coverage in my area lately about nut allergies. Probably because a child almost died as a result of life-threatening allergies.

The author of this opinion piece addressed the issue of people with serious nut allergies. His position was that trying to ban all nuts in schools and colleges is very difficult to enforce. Too many outside people frequently enter the premises.

He suggested that we as a society should simply adopt the practice of never bringing nuts out in public. That nuts should be restricted to consumption at home only.

I think of the logistics of this suggestion. I can't imagine that working. Even selling nuts puts those at risk in a life or death situation. Do we stop producing nuts for the sake of those who are allergic?

More and more people are choosing a plant-based diet. But as soon as we leave our homes, we're already restricted. There are few if any nutritional options made available to people like me in restaurants, let alone when traveling. And now even a vegan staple like nuts may well be taken away from us.

So as I consider what to pack for my trip this year, I must consider my needs and the needs of others. Today, I'll trek to my local health food store for travel-friendly, non-perishable vegan food staples that will get me through 11 days. Something without nuts. Something without too much sugar. Something that isn't just junk.

If you're a vegan, how do you deal with travel and eating?
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