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A Mother & Daughter Set Sail on Their First Vegan Cruise

Lael & Laurel HoneyWhile some guests on the Holistic Holiday at Sea cruise come solo, others bring along a companion, such as a friend, partner, or relative. The adventures onboard can offer wonderful bonding experiences. One popular travel duo is mothers with their adult daughters. This year, Laurel and Lael Honey embarked on their first Holistic Holiday at Sea cruise. We caught up with them about their plant-based journeys and wanted to share their story with you!

Living in the community of North East, just outside of Erie, Pennsylvania, Laurel Honey recalls how far Erie has come in having vegan or vegetarian options. Last September, the city held its first VegFest, where Laurel and Lael learned about the cruise from Derek Tresize and Marcella Torres. They loved the idea of not having to worry about what they were going to eat.

“It’s hard to vacation,” says Laurel. “When my husband and I would take the children anywhere, we packed everything… We were never guaranteed that there would be a grocery store where we could find decent stuff. Just to be able to stay somewhere for a week and not worry about the food was so amazing.” In preparing for the cruise, Laurel was looking forward to attending Christina Pirello’s cooking classes, and Lael was excited about hearing Dr. T. Colin Campbell speak, as she kept up with his research.

It Wasn’t Always Easy

Ever try a soybean donut? According to Laurel Honey, they weren’t the best tasting thing she’s ever made. In her early years of being a vegetarian in the 1970s, Laurel often experimented in the kitchen, grabbing recipes from cookbooks and working through a lot of trial and error. “Soybeans were the staple, the ‘meat’ that we used,” she says. “I tried to make everything out of soybeans. The soybean donuts were not a success.”

At the time, Laurel was attending the University of Oklahoma, in a state with a booming cattle industry, where veganism/vegetarianism was a foreign concept to most people, and there were basically no substitutes in the commercial market. Still, Laurel was inspired by her love for animals to stop eating meat. “I had to make everything. There was nothing wholegrain so you had to make your own noodles. I had to make my own tofu, my own tempeh. I kept reading and reading—anything I could get my hands on. I exposed myself to people who were likeminded. And it just grew from there.”

Good Plant-Based Living

After graduation, Laurel returned to her hometown of Erie, Pennsylvania, where she met her husband Tony McCullum, a master herbalist and Seventh-day Adventist. Laurel converted to this religion. Calling themselves Natural Hygienists, Laurel and Tony ate a completely plant-based diet, emphasizing whole grains and clean foods.

People would laugh and say that Tony and Laurel were “living as country as they could in a city,” but they didn’t mind. They had a little house near Lake Erie, a huge garden, and a wood stove. When they began having children, the family relocated to the country in Waterford.

Lael is the middle of their five children. Now 31, she says her parents always encouraged curiosity. “They educated us on how it’s affecting our bodies, and why we’re choosing to eat in better ways.” By age 6, Lael was completely vegan. “We kept experimenting how to supplement,” says Lael. “It’s pretty much still all I know. I’ve never had a glass of milk or meat or fish. I couldn’t cook those things for you if you asked me to.” Lael remembers packing her own lunch on school field trips. She recalls, “I got teased a little for it, but because they gave us that foundation as to why it was this way, I had confidence in it. No one wants to be teased for anything they do, but I felt confident that I was doing the right thing.”

Healing Ourselves, Healing the World

While Lael grew up with a plant-based lifestyle for health purposes, she soon had other reasons, including how a plant-based diet benefits the environment. She loves watching documentaries such as Cowspiracy and PlantPure Nation.

Laurel and Tony eventually opened a co-op to fit the needs of people who were interested in this healthier lifestyle. “I’m a purist, I don’t mess around,” says Laurel. While they no longer own the co-op today, its launch was critical in helping the community find better food options. Lael’s sister Selah is a vegan cook who partnered with Laurel (an avid baker) to open a vegan bakery. It was in business for 15 years, but closed two years ago when Selah became a full-time mom. (Her child is a third generation vegan!)

Socials & Excursions Foster a Community of New Friends

Lael, who has done a lot of traveling for service work and mission trips, enjoyed exploring the cruise’s ports of call with her mom. Lael hiked up Dunn’s River Falls in Jamaica and her mom joined her for a snorkeling adventure over a shipwreck in the Cayman Islands.

“Another thing I love about this cruise is that the social life is amazing,” says Lael. “You get to meet people from all over the world. You get to hear all the different stories on how they became vegan and why. It’s just really interesting. You can’t get a culture like this anywhere else. Especially coming from the town that I come from where I feel like I’m one of the only vegans. I don’t know any other vegans outside of my immediate family. I know they’re there, but I don’t know where they are.”

As for the plant-based movement becoming more mainstream, most people have heard of veganism now. “They may have a cousin who is vegan.” says Laurel. Lael adds, “And they don’t instantly start telling tofu jokes. That’s kind of over with.”

Vacation With Us!

Next year marks the 15h anniversary of Holistic Holiday at Sea. Click here to learn more about the 10-day voyage, from February 15–25, 2018. Book by May 25 for the early bird rate!