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The Search for Inclusive Plant-based Dive Experiences

For the past few decades, I’ve embarked on a deeply personal journey in search of inclusive dive experiences. This quest, driven by my profound love for scuba diving and unwavering belief in the ethical and moral aspects of our diet, has shaped my life. While I may not have been vegan for all of those 20-plus years, I’ve been a vegetarian for over 30 years and a vegan for a significant portion of that time.

My passion for diving was ignited during a trip to Thailand in 2000, where I embarked on a search for whale sharks. Since then, I’ve been on the lookout for exceptional dive locations, dive liveaboards, and resorts that cater to plant-based divers. 

All divers, regardless of their dietary choices, should be able to enjoy their dive holiday to the fullest. This includes being offered plant-based menus, using eco-friendly diving equipment where possible, and participating in conservation efforts during dives.

Over time, my ethical beliefs have evolved into a more concrete call for action. Divers, dive operators, dive instructors, and the entire industry bear a tremendous responsibility to act as stewards for the ocean’s well-being. Each one of us has the power to make a difference, to advocate for change, and to ensure a sustainable future for the oceans. 

How can you make a living from the ocean on one hand and not protect it on the other? How can you dive amongst the fish, then demand them for dinner on your liveaboard or the BBQ at your beach resort? How can you chase the opportunity to dive with the majesty of a whale shark, then offer shark fin at your wedding?

So, I have spent years looking for dive operators who embody inclusivity without grumbling or looking flustered, and even better, they do it from an ethical standpoint. Surprisingly, it has been a challenging journey.

What is an Inclusive Plant-based Dive Experience

After many disappointments, I did not set the service bar too high. It is painfully clear that the vast majority of people in the dive industry cannot make the connection between eating animals and the effect on the ocean, and if they can, they do not feel moved to do anything about it. 

They are fine offering reef fish for consumption; they do not wish to deny guests or, at the very least, educate them about the problems inherent in their choices. Despite the challenges, there is a glimmer of hope. 

The number of operators offering inclusive services for vegan divers is slowly but steadily increasing. For example, Silver Reef Dive Resort in Dauin, Philippines, has an extensive vegan, plant-based menu and even a vegan bakery!

New divers enter the scene with a profound understanding and ethical compassion for sentient creatures and the environment. Their choices are driving change, making a tangible difference. This is a powerful testament to the potential for positive change in the dive industry and the influence of consumer demand. They are voting with their fins, and their impact is undeniable.

So, where did I set the bar? 

Expectation 

Very simply, once I mentioned to a dive operator that I was vegan and required all meals and snacks to be so, would I need to mention it again? This is a fairly basic level of service expectation within an industry based on just that: service. If I were to mention I did not consume mammals, for example, this would be attended to without any fuss.

If I were on a 10-day liveaboard trip to a remote destination, I would expect to be fed with the same level of culinary finesse as those divers asking for fresh-caught tuna and steaks.

I did not expect to have to live on french fries and garden salads for ten days. It would not have been too much to ask, you would have thought. Generally, you’d be wrong.

Reality

The reality in the diving world is that inclusivity needs to catch up. It is not easy to find a dive liveaboard or a dive resort that has made a positive choice to create a vegan or plant-based menu.

It is even more difficult to find one that actively promotes a vegan or plant-based menu as being worthwhile for the environment.

The truth is that the majority of the dive industry is firmly anchored in decades-old sentiment and more than happy not to shift their asses and evolve towards either inclusivity or giving a shit about the environment.

I chartered a whole yacht, with 9 cabins in total, for a trip to Komodo National Park. I was guaranteed that plant-based diets would be catered for. Even though I had chartered the entire yacht over 10 nights, I ate salad, french fries, and spaghetti pomodoro for almost every meal.

There were no plant-based milks available, and certainly, no attempts had been made to source protein alternatives. The excuse given was the usual chef had not made it on the trip. Why was a vegan menu not in place and ready to be part of a standard order? The reality is they did not think it was that important. Their steak n taters BBQ’d trawled pelagic fish-eating diving guests composed the bulk of their clients to the point they didn’t really give a shit.

Some are breaking the mould. The problem is how to find them, how to make sure they put their service where their mouth is, and how can you, as an inclusive, ethical diver, do the best you can to support them?

This is Where Infinite Blue Helps

Operators who have the foresight to evolve need to be celebrated for taking those steps and be supported with fins in the water. I hoped that some fiscal pressure would cause some change.

One place to start is to check out the website, look for destinations that interest you, explore the operators there, and ask us questions. We love it when you ask us questions. Our passion is to support you to create the dive holiday of a lifetime, meanwhile making a difference.

Here is an example of a liveaboard company that is really making a superb effort and creating vegan dive trips of at least an equal standard, if not even surpassing those of the moral dinosaurs.

Recently, I had a plant-based diving couple on a trip with these guys, and they were treated to three kinds of vegan cake for his birthday! This kind of inclusive service, as rare as rainbow dolphins and scuba unicorns, is almost unheard of in the dive industry.

What to Look Out For / How to Make Sure

This is not easy, as everyone wants your business. They will tell you they can create cuisine for every diet under the sun. Take this with a pinch of salt. You’ll end up with fried rice and eggplant every meal for a week.

Ask the operator for a menu. Every decent operator, dive resort, or liveaboard has a menu to work from. It is how ordering is handled, how the kitchen plans are developed, and how the correct ingredients are sourced on time. It is very rarely a whim at the moment. This is significantly amplified if the resort or liveaboard is in a remote area; things need to be planned even better.

They should be able to give you a plant-based menu sample that runs over a decent time period so you do not eat the same thing every couple of days.

Here is a fantastic dive resort in the Lembeh Strait that has a two-week revolving menu with everything available to be made vegan. Dive into Lembeh is one of the inclusive stars of Sulawesi diving.

Ask the operator which plant-based milk they offer, which vegan protein alternatives they have in the kitchen, and how they approach dive snacks. Scuba is an energy-intensive activity, so why shouldn’t you also get a tasty post-dive snack after dive number three?

With a bit of investigation, you can ensure your needs are met. You can also send us a message for a head start and donate to some worthwhile marine conservation organisations while you dive.

Where are The Most Inclusive Scuba Destinations

Luckily for us, this is now everywhere. Any operator who tries to evolve and provide inclusive service has the tools and ingredients available. There is no longer any excuse. It is time to take a stand for the environment.

Infinite Blue also provides a service to help operators produce a desirable, plant-based menu. We have done this with several dive resorts in the past, such as these two here:

If you know of an operator willing to make the change but need a little help, get them to contact us. We are always willing to help.

Some destinations are naturally more prepared to cater to vegan divers. Thailand is a natural choice. Here, a plant-based diet is already interwoven into the Buddhist culture. Indonesia is another fantastic scuba destination where plant-based meals, tofu and tempeh, are readily available.

Some dive destinations are not. The Philippines, for example, is somewhere where ‘vegan’ means leaving some of the shrimp out, perhaps a little less pork fat. You would be severely hard-pressed to find a dive operator supporting plant-based eating for the environment, with many delighting in BBQing reef fish for their guests. Here, you need to spend time researching your options.

There are inclusive dive operators spread all over the globe now. The mission is to find and support them while diving the best scuba you can.

To Wrap it Up

If you plan your dive travel with the ocean’s well-being in mind, thank you; you are awesome. If you are reading this and would like to learn more about ethical dive travel, get in contact. We can give you some good advice if you would like to know more about dive operators, their inclusivity, and their attitude towards environmentalism.

Demand equality for your dive travel from here on in; you not only deserve it but are also helping out the planet.

 

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