By Peggy Mackenzie
What could be more wonderful – to win a contest to go on a six-month foodie tour of the world all expenses paid?
That’s what happened to Marissa Miluk, 21, a recent vegan convert and daughter of Brian Mulik, a wrestling coach and favorite teacher of students at Eastern Greenbrier Middle School. Marissa says her conversion to veganism was not simply a change in eating habits or food choices, but “more about bringing more compassion” into her life. She became a vegan a year ago on Mar. 1, 2015, she said, and she hasn’t looked back since.
Some support for her decision came from viewing documentaries on the negative health impacts of normal diets as opposed to a vegan diet. She also said exposure to ethical considerations for animal rights paralleled her concerns for the destructive impacts on the environment from the animal agribusiness. Miluk says the total combined effect was to commit to veganism for life.
Once having made the commitment, Miluk says she was quite prepared for the changes to her diet, but “I wasn’t prepared for the social aspects of veganism.” That was difficult, she said. Most of the world just isn’t vegan.
So, to counter feeling like an oddball, Miluk began to search online for a vegan community and found a fellow vegan on YouTube named Shae Mann, 22, in Portland, OR. Finding a like-minded friend, even one who lived 3,000 miles away, surely settled any feelings of being a nonconformist.
And then a fun thing happened. Mann found out about a travel contest at vegantravel.com. The two girls signed up, shot a video on the joys of going vegan, and – BOOM – they won a trip to travel around-the-world! The Vegan Around the World contest ran through Mar. 31, 2016, and the winners were announced on Apr. 15.
VeganTravel describes itself as a social media platform where vegans can come together to share their passion for travel and adventure, help promote and grow interest in going vegan, shed light on the issues animals are facing around the globe, and to help build a more sustainable and compassionate world, as stated on their website vegantravel.com.
The site has chosen to provide around-the-world airfare and travel expenses for selected vegan travelers eager to help grow veganism and animal care awareness by sharing their travel experiences of the vegans they meet along the way, reviewing the transportation they use, the restaurants they dine in, and the accommodations they stay at, and helping to tell the stories of the animals they meet at animal sanctuaries, shelters, and care facilities in each country they visit.
Starting in July, Miluk and Mann will travel to the European continent, Iceland, Thailand and Australia. Their enthusiasm for their new life style will demonstrate to doubters just how easy it is to be vegan, how enjoyable and rewarding a vegan life can be. Compassion, indeed. What’s not to love.
Now attending Marshall University, Miluk is studying dietetics as her major. She says her career choice was a direct result of her vegan life-style change. She recommends anyone interested in learning more about veganism to visit the following websites:
http://www.youtube.com/Vegantravel and her own YouTube channel http://www.youtube.com/lifestylewithme