Being an animal-friendly traveler isn’t just about being responsible with the places you visit or the activities you do, it’s also about the souvenirs you buy along the way to take back home for family, friends, or yourself.
Too often souvenirs are made from animal parts, which can include even legally protected materials like ivory (from elephants or rhinos), shells, or animal skins – likely sourced via the cruel and illegal wildlife trade. Purchases like these are fueling the demand that has led to thousands of animals being captured and even killed to create necklaces, trinkets, or even so-called traditional “medicines”.
In some countries, it is also commonplace to eat foods that might be unusual for Americans. A huge variety of animals are often on menus and it may not always be 100% clear what kind of animal it is at first glance. Be cautious about where and what you eat and avoid places (including street vendors) that sell dog, cat, or wildlife bush meat, or that advertise endangered species such as shark fins, whale and turtle meat.
Not only will the animals have endured cruel treatment, but they may have been slaughtered in unhygienic conditions that could pose a huge risk to your health. Always check the menu and remember many countries offer vegan or vegetarian options on the menu – making it easier to live kinder while also aiming to Travel Kind.
Tips before you go:
- Learn words like vegan or vegetarian in the local language
- Always read the menu carefully before ordering
- Don’t buy souvenirs made from exotic skins or animal parts
- Always check the rules for importing/exporting products when traveling, as some countries have very strict guidelines about what you can bring in, especially with animal-based products
To read more about these tips and other ways you can Travel Kind download our free guide here!