Wrapping up my trip … and the letter to Amtrak

amtrak-califHey, all! My travels in California are, sadly, drawing to a close. I have had a wonderful trip so far, and I still have two more days to look forward to: tomorrow here in the Bay area, and Saturday on the train back to Portland. I have met some wonderful people through Airbnb, the San Diego Vegans Meetup group, the Dance Jam folks in San Diego and Encinitas, and on the train itself. I look forward to many more such trips in the future, traveling all over the country, and probably into Canada as well.

One mild downside to the trip has been the lack of readily available vegan options on the train. I posted here a few days ago that I would be writing a letter to Amtrak to request more options, and I have just emailed them that letter (at www.amtrak.com/contact-us) so I thought I would post it here in case it inspires any of you to write as well. I know I’m not the only one who cares about this!

Dear Amtrak,

I am just finishing up my first-ever 15-day-pass vacation, from my native Portland through California, on the Coast Starlight and Pacific Surfliner. It has been wonderful so far! I have always loved rail travel, and I’m choosing to make it a bigger part of my life. (I’m even blogging about it, at www.dreamintochange.com, if you’d like to take a look.)

I’ve been happy with the experience overall, but I do have a request. I would love to see some vegan entrée option on the regular dining car menu. I very much appreciate that you offer a vegan burger in the café, and I enjoyed one last night. I’m also aware that you offer vegan options in the dining car by pre-order. However, I didn’t realize the 72-hour cutoff for ordering them until about 68 hours before my trip began, so it was tricky for me to find adequately filling meals when I got on board. I know I am not the only traveler who would value having vegan items to choose from on the main menu for each meal.

I see that you do offer at least one vegetarian option at each meal. If these options were vegan (no animal products at all, including dairy, eggs, or honey) vegetarians and vegans alike could enjoy it, and there would be no administrative and logistical hurdles for Amtrak nor passengers, such as there are now with the pre-ordering procedure. You might even consider making the vegan options gluten free, as well, to appeal to another growing segment of the population and address two issues simultaneously. (I’m guessing that your vegan chili and dolmas are gluten free, and that the vegan pasta is not.) Options for breakfast might include a tofu scramble with vegetables, or a vegetable hash with home fries. Lunch and dinner could be chili or dolmas, or perhaps a vegetable stir-fry (with or without tofu and/or rice) or a hearty Southwestern salad with tomatoes, corn, beans, and other vegetables. Or any number of other options, of course – these are just a few suggestions.

I plan to do more train travel, and more blogging about it, in the coming years and decades. I would love to let my friends and readers know that their dietary choices will be easily accommodated if they should choose to join me in “riding the rails.”

Thank you for your consideration. I appreciate all that you do.

Sincerely,

Maren Souders

OK! Now to head out with some friends to an all-vegan Japanese restaurant (http://cha-ya.blogspot.com), which will be a first for me. I love traveling!

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4 Responses to Wrapping up my trip … and the letter to Amtrak

  1. William Dennett says:

    Nice letter! Hopefully they’ll listen to you and take action.

  2. Mary says:

    Wonderful letter! Just curious – did Amtrak ever respond?

    • Maren says:

      Thanks, Mary! I haven’t heard back. But, I follow them on Facebook, and every now and then insert polite requests to this effect into comments on their posts & photos. 🙂

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