Although camping is often associated with summertime, the reality is that camping is possible -- and enjoyable -- at almost any time of year. So if you're planning ahead for an autumnal camping trip, you might already have given some thought to your travel plans and the equipment you'll need. But if you have certain dietary restrictions or you'll be braving the wilderness with vegan companions, you might need to do some extra preparation. Since studies show that people who replace meat with plant-based foods have a 20% lower mortality rate than those who consume meat, that additional prep work might be well worth it. And contrary to popular belief, you won't have to miss out on all the fun if you're camping while vegan (yes, there are vegan marshmallows on the market so you can get your s'more on). However, you will have to make some adjustments to your routine.
If hotdogs and jerkey aren't on the menu, what do you when camping while vegan? Here are some insider tips that will allow you to partake in an animal-product-free excursion that everyone will enjoy.
Develop a Meal Plan
Whether you're vegan or not, it's a good idea to plan out exactly what you'll be eating during your camping trip. Make sure you've got your breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and desserts covered. You can certainly bring pre-packaged items, but it's often a lot more fun to make it yourself. After all, 78% of campers participate in outdoor cooking while camping! If you do plan to cook during your trip, you'll want your meals to be filling and packed with ingredients that will keep you going. It's also a bonus, particularly if you're camping with non-vegans, if you can really impress the others with your skills. If they like your recipes enough, they'll probably forget there isn't any meat, dairy, or other animal products included -- and since items like tender cuts of steak (which make up less than 10% of the beef) cost more, you might even convince your friends to go meatless themselves. Try out some recipes for oatmeal, eggless breakfast scrambles, campfire popcorn, vegetable soups and chilis, or grilled sweet potatoes to tantalize everyone's tastebuds.
Pack the Vegan Staples
Although 97% of the Earth's water is saltwater, the filtered water you'll bring on your trip will be suitable for vegans and non-vegans alike. But what about when you get those mid-day hunger pangs? In addition to items you'll cook right at camp, you'll also want to bring along some homemade or pre-packaged snacks to make sure you're satiated during a hike or after a swim. Trail mix, fresh or dried fruits and veggies, bread or tortillas, vegan granola bars or chips, hummus, dark chocolate, and dairy-free cheese can make your tummy stop rumbling until it's mealtime. If you're buying pre-packaged items, make sure to double-check the ingredients for any non-vegan culprits before you buy!
Borrow Instead of Buy
A lot of people embrace a vegan diet for animal rights reasons alone, but others are making the switch due to a desire to promote environmental responsibility. Sustainable practices can be a bit of a challenge in today's convenience-driven world, but eco-friendly camping is definitely possible. If you need new gear, see what you might be able to borrow fist. Not only will this save you quite a bit of money, but it can keep your overall product consumption down -- particularly if you don't go camping often. Of course, you may want to invest in a vegan sleeping bag, which will keep you warm even without real down. But anything you can borrow or thrift for cheap (which will give new life to an unwanted item) is definitely a plus.
Bring Vegan Substitutes
Ultimately, it's not just about the food. Wilderness protection items like insect repellent and sunscreen are essential when camping out, but the leading brands aren't necessarily environmentally responsible -- nor do they always contain vegan ingredients. Read the label to ensure that your sunscreen is cruelty-free so that you can prevent skin damage while preserving animal lives. You might also want to use a vegan bug spray (which you can make at home or purchase from natural brands). Plant-based hand sanitizers are also a good idea when you're roughing it.
Some people might see a vegan lifestyle as a downer, but the substitutions are relatively easy to make as long as you think ahead. With these tips in mind, you can get back to nature without harming it further.
Approximately 37% of families say that vacations make them happy, and there's arguably no better place to take a trip with your loved ones than the Happiest Place on Earth. Some people love Disney parks so much that they wish they could live there. And in a certain way, some Disney fans have managed to do just that. They may not live in Cinderella's castle or on Main Street, USA, but they visit so often that the Magic Kingdom is like their second home. In many cases, these fans document their magical experiences on social media for all to see. A select few have even managed to create a massive following and foray their love for Mickey Mouse into full-fledged careers -- without ever working as a formal Disney employee.
AJ Wolfe doesn't even live in the Sunshine State. She resides in Texas, where she's been writing her Disney Food Blog for the past decade. But you'd never know she wasn't a season pass-holder, considering how frequently she posts and how in-depth her features can be. Her mouthwatering photos delight her social media followers, who engage regularly with her account to stay on top of all of the latest Disney park food trends. With 438,000 Instagram followers (and counting) and millions of monthly website readers, Wolfe was able to turn her passion for magical eats into a lucrative career.
Although Wolfe still resides in Dallas, she now employs staff members who do live in Florida. She also makes a trip to the parks approximately once per month to check out what's new. When she travels, she does so alone -- and she schedules four to five meals per day so she's able to try as many items as she can. Although her Disney days can last from 6 am to 2 am (far beyond the "rope drop to fireworks" mantra that many diehard Disney fans adopt), she told People that every experience is still as magical as it always was.
Wolfe explained, "I started the blog because I love the parks. They just carry a real enchantment for me. I always like to build in time for myself to hang out in the parks and ride some rides. That's part of the benefit of doing this as a job."
Not only does Wolfe live solely off her blog earnings (thanks to the in-depth Disney food guides she has available for purchase on her site), but she's also had a hand in making a number of new food offerings go viral. And unlike many influencers, she's been able to maintain a certain degree of anonymity; she purposefully tries to keep a low profile so that Disney cast members and others don't know who she is when she shows up to conduct her research. Although she says she's had managers offer to comp her meals, she always pays her way for the sake of transparency.
"I’ll go up to them and say, ‘I’m sorry, but this is something that we have to pay for in order to remain unbiased for our readers,'" she explained to People. "And frankly, it's better for them as well because if I have to write a review that says you paid for it and it's a good review, nobody's going to trust that."
And trust her, they do. Wolfe is seen as a food authority in all things Disney, due to her continued presence on various social networking and content creation platforms. You can scarcely conduct a search about eating at Disney World without stumbling upon one of her posts -- and many fans wouldn't dare plan a trip without consulting her blog or Instagram first.
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But Wolfe isn't the only one whose devotion to all things Disney has transformed into a professional path. Bloggers like The Disney Chef and influencers like Styled By Magic have found a bit of fame and fortune, thanks to Disney-related content. Disney has also made moves to embrace social media influencers, hosting events for content creators and forging partnerships to promote new offerings.
Of course, if you want to get in on the magical action, you can't simply email Disney's PR representative and request tickets -- not without having something to back it up, at least. You'll need to work on growing your audience and creating stellar content that will appeal to fellow Disney lovers. Not only will you likely need to outsource SEO services to ensure fans can easily find your blog, but you'll also want to focus on a specific niche of the Disney lifestyle to cover. Instead of food, that might be fashion (like new clothing lines sold in the parks or the Disneybounding trend) or hidden secrets of Disney history. While there are already successful bloggers and influencers doing both, carving out your little corner -- and doing it better than anyone else -- is one of the best ways to get noticed.
That's all easier said than done, especially given that these platforms are becoming more saturated by the day. What's more, it will take a lot of hard work to make your Disney dream a reality. But as Walt Disney would probably tell you, "it's kind of fun to do the impossible."
This week, Nickelodeon served-up something new for its preschool audience, whisking kids away on some magical culinary adventures in Butterbean’s Café. The all-new CG-animated series made its debut on Monday during the Nick Jr. preschool block. Following a fairy named Butterbean and her adventures running her own neighborhood café and bakery, the series is something different - a culinary spin on a magical new world, and kids are already eating it up. While my own girls, The Rock Daughters™, are just a bit beyond the target demo, it's resonated with them, and the ratings show that they're not alone. Created by Robert Scull and Jonny Belt (Bubble Guppies), Butterbean’s Café is the biggest debut for Nick Jr. since Spin Master's PAW Patrol hit the scene back in 2013. Butterbean’s Café showcases creative cooking and features a curriculum with social-emotional lessons that highlight kindness and gratitude, and leadership skills. If your little ones haven't seen it yet, check out a preview of the 40-episode first season below...
If you think that it will soon be too cold to enjoy delicious frozen ice cream, then you're making a terrible mistake. With 1.5 billion gallons of ice cream and similar desserts produced in the United States annually, there's no reason why it should all be eaten during the dog days of summer. While almost everyone thinks of ice cream as a perfect summer treat, there are plenty of excellent ways to enjoy it once the temperature drops.
Americans love convenience: it's no surprise that this fondness for accessibility would work its way into our favorite restaurants. Florida has embraced this concept with open arms, following the lead of other states who have jumped on the bandwagon: using food halls.
But this is no cafeteria; these food halls have sprung up in major cities across the country, including the likes of Chicago, New York City, Detroit, Seattle, and even Chapel Hill in North Carolina.
This special feature is presented in collaboration between The Rock Father™, Cheerios and Life of Dad.
Parenting is a balancing act. It doesn’t matter whether your’re a dad or a mom, being responsible for the lives of little human beings can be a daunting task. It’s a gig that goes in waves and cycles, with each passing year, a flip of the calendar that simply shuffles the deck to bring in new challenges - just as the kids take on new activities. Here at Rock Father HQ, our balance includes a corporate gig for my wife (a 40-mile commute twice a day, five days a week), a weird schedule for me that now involves travel roughly once a month, and then balancing those responsibilities with our girls. Two school schedules - one in full-day, one in half-day - plus all the other things like ballet, gymnastics, swimming lessons, girl scouts, theatre camp… and whatever else might happen to plug itself into the mix. It sounds like a lot because it is - but we love it, and we make it work, but that deck is always stacked, and the right balance is key. When something gets out of whack (and it has… many times), the whole thing can come tumbling down for a reset. Just like a stack of wooden blocks… or a well-balanced stack of delicious Cheerios.