The Intrepid Herbivores

A vegan TV show about Travel and Food

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Cameraman Joe on location in Thailand. Any time we post a photo that is crappy you know I took it. If it is well-lit and compellingly composed, you know it was his work. :-)

Cameraman Joe on location in Thailand.

We are very much a team, Joe and I–he is the camera operator, art director, on the pilot he did all of the sound engineering–he is as much or way more to credit for the episode than I am, but upon viewing, the only person who gets visual recognition is me, the host. We have talked around the idea of changing the title to “The Intrepid Herbivore,” singular, and that has never resonated with me–partially because in my mind this project is a collaboration and not about me at all. However, I have come to realize that what I really want out of the idea of “The Intrepid Herbivores,” plural, is more than my and Joe’s collaboration and my off-screen partner being given due credit. I want to embrace the notion of the worldwide community of intrepid herbivores. There are a lot of us. The more we show around the pilot and preview, the more people we talk to, the more we realize we are tapping into a massive community of people, a growing mass of people, who love to travel and are on their own journeys, physical and metaphorical, exploring this world in a compassionate way. So that’s really what we mean by keeping the title plural.


So in that spirit we are reaching out to our community to make contributions to the project and provide more perspectives on what it means to be An Intrepid Herbivore. It is with great pleasure that I welcome aboard our newest correspondent, Intrepid Herbivore Amanda Gain.

Amanda Gain (left).

Amanda Gain (left).

Amanda graduated from Loyola University Chicago with an English degree and a background in education.  Her true passion is writing and travel, so she moved to Alaska after college to work as a tour guide. She has backpacked around Europe, spent a month in Hawaii, did some volunteer work in Costa Rica and spent three weeks in India.  She became a vegetarian a little over 2 years ago, but her passion for conservation, health and animal welfare became a huge focal point in her life right away. She has written up a beautiful narrative about her own experience in Costa Rica, and I hope you will take some wisdom and inspiration from it. We look forward to sharing more of Amanda’s work in the future, and to introducing more guest writers, correspondents, photographers, reviewers, and community experience as we continue to grow. Enjoy and stay intrepid, herbivores! 🙂


“Estoy vegetariano.” I stuttered, stumbling over the spanish pronunciation.

My Costa Rican host family stared at me. I repeated myself. The mother tilted her head to the side, an exact replica of my black lab’s face when I ask him if he wants a treat. Later, someone told me that, seeing as I’m a girl, the proper phrase would have been “estoy vegetariana.”

“No meat.” I waved my arms back and forth across my body. “NO…MEAT.” We were all getting frustrated until the oldest daughter in the family came home from school.

“Oh, I can speak English.” Nina said. She wrapped her thin brown arms around her mom’s waist and said something I didn’t understand.

“Oh si, si, si,” my host mom planted a big kiss on my cheek and dragged me into the kitchen. The kitchen was small but tidy, although there was a spotted gecko clinging to the curtain. Mom grabbed some plantains from the counter, sliced them up and motioned for me to watch. She pointed at a plantain slice, grabbed an empty glass and smashed it with the bottom of the glass. Then, she threw it into a pan of sizzling oil. “Mmm,” she rubbed her stomach. Fifteen minutes later, I was chowing down on the most delicious version of chips I’ve ever had.

Pan o' plantains!

Pan o’ plantains!

Small villages in Costa Rica rely on their own sustainable farming practices, so meat is a side dish rather than the main course. I stayed in Playa Hermosa on a service project where we did some trail restoration and built a community center. Each morning, host mom would pick some mangoes from the backyard to make smoothies. She served up black beans, rice and fried cheese. I don’t think I’ve ever had a fresher meal.

Most people assume that vegetarianism is inconvenient; that it’s rude to reject meat when offered by a stranger. But people want to be good hosts, especially in warm cultures where hospitality is a cherished virtue. Just let them know up front about your dietary request. The United States is a land of meat eaters, of people who tend to overeat animal, along with any other type of food really. As a prosperous nation, residents of the U.S. have grown accustomed to taking pride in excess. So, if you travel out of the country, you might be surprised that not every meal includes meat anyways.

After that night, my host mom loved to pack me little vegetarian meals to take on the road. On the last night of the trip, the whole community threw a bonfire on the beach for my volunteer group. They packed us into a little open trailer attached to the back of a pick up truck and we rode through a dirt trail in the middle of the rainforest. Our mouths opened up to the cool night air, offering our laughs as tributes to the tropical leaves that tickled our faces as we drove through.

Once on the beach, a bunch of kids from the community taught us games that they played, like their versions of red rover and tag. We taught them duck, duck, goose. The adults called us over for dinner and I realized that the meal most likely had chicken in them. I sighed, and resigned myself to picking out the meat when my host mom ran up behind me, grabbed my arm and said “no, no!” She handed me a paper bag filled with rice, beans and vegetable sandwiches. In that moment, I felt such love and generosity from a woman that I barely knew.

Don’t be afraid to be a vegetarian or vegan when you travel and don’t be ashamed. Do be respectful, don’t push your beliefs onto someone else and be aware of the culture you’re staying in. Also, make sure you know how to explain to someone that you’re a vegetarian before you get there. I’m sure that will eliminate quizzical looks and crazy hand gestures.

You can follow Amanda’s adventures via Twitter: @travelagainblog


Are you an Intrepid Herbivore? Do you have a story to share, a lesson you’ve learned, or a gem of a recommendation you’ve picked up on your travels? Contact me at!




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This entry was posted on May 2, 2013 by in production, travel stories, Uncategorized and tagged , , , .