Yesterday I wrote about my trip to San Diego, and how much I love taking the train. I do indeed love it, and I loved the trip. (And I’m having a great time here in California so far!)
One thing that bothered me, though, was the lack of vegan options in the Amtrak Coast Starlight’s dining car. (You may recall that I have had this problem before.) Amtrak doesn’t offer vegan meals on the standard, fixed menu in their dining car. They do, theoretically, offer them by special order, as long as you place the order at least 72 hours in advance of your travel date. (This is because the meals are not prepared on the train; they are prepared and packaged elsewhere, and placed on the train at scheduled commissary stops in large cities.) This time, I planned ahead to do so, and the woman who took my reservation over the phone assured me that I would receive either pasta or chili for each of my three scheduled meals. (Including breakfast, though I thought those two were rather unconventional choices for a morning meal.)
When I arrived in the dining car for my first meal at dinner, though, the attendant once again told me they had no record of my request, and no vegan meals on board. I ended up eating side salads and baked potatoes for the remainder of the trip.
I was disappointed and frustrated, but I wanted to take that energy and turn it into something positive rather than simply stewing in it. So, I decided to start a petition on Change.org:
Here is the text of the petition:
More and more Americans are choosing a vegan lifestyle, for ethical, environmental, and/or health reasons. Amtrak can better welcome this growing segment of society onboard, making vegan meals easy for passengers and staff alike, by changing their on-board menu.
As it stands now, long-distance train passengers must pre-order vegan meals 72 hours in advance, so that the train staff can pick up the pre-made meals at scheduled commissary stops in large cities. On both of the two long train trips I have taken in the past two years, however, the meals I ordered never made it onto the trains, so I ended up eating side salads and baked potatoes for several days.
The dining car menus currently do include vegetarian options (such as scrambled eggs for breakfast, a veggie burger for lunch, and six-cheese lasagna for dinner). However, all these meatless options still contain animal ingredients, such as eggs or dairy. I am requesting that Amtrak change its fixed menus on all trains that include dining cars, so that at least one all-vegan entree option is available onboard at each meal.
I would love for you to sign it, and/or share it with friends via Facebook or email, if this is something you support.
I’m also curious, though, to hear if any of you have found a way to turn a frustration or stumbling block into an empowering opportunity for activism. If so, please share your story in the comments!