This feature was written by Stephanie Dreyer. Stephanie is the founder of VeegMama, a lifestyle brand sharing new approaches to healthy living, and the host of YouTube’s The Good Life With VeegMama. She also writes children’s books and is a mom of three.
Sometimes we need to put aside our daily responsibilities, pack up the car, and have a family outing! But kind families never support the use of animals for entertainment.
Elephants, tigers, and other animals used in circuses, for example, spend most of their lives chained or caged. In zoos, animals like giraffes and lions live in enclosures that are hundreds of times smaller than their homes in the wild. In marine theme parks like SeaWorld, orcas are confined to what amounts to concrete bathtubs.
By choosing humane activities, your family can go home with great memories and a clear conscience. Here are some things to do on your next trip:
Visit a sanctuary accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS). GFAS is an organization that has rigorous standards of sanctuary management and animal care. Member sanctuaries don’t breed animals or use them in commercial activities, and they provide animals with excellent, lifetime care.
All it takes is a pair of binoculars to see and enjoy the multitude of avian species all around us. Texas has one of the most diverse bird populations in North America, so make sure you spend some time observing birds if you’re in the state.
Plan a day trip or an overnight outing at one of the 59 national parks in the U.S. and observe animals in their own homes. Heading north? Canada has 42 beautiful national parks. Don’t forget to take along ingredients for vegan s’mores in order to make your trip that much more fun.
Seeing whales in their ocean home is a breathtaking experience. The best times to spot them vary depending on the location, but summers off the San Diego coast and California’s Central Coast offer great opportunities for seeing whales. Spring break is a great time to spot whales in the waters off Washington state.
Before you book a tour, though, ask about the company’s code of conduct in order to ensure that the operation is run responsibly. Whales should never be “corralled.” Captains should never chase or speed up to pass a whale and should maintain a safe distance and turn off the vessel or keep it in neutral if the animals approach. Another option is to watch whales in their natural habitat from the shore.
You can see dolphins swimming in many coastal states all over the U.S. The manatee viewing platform at the Big Bend Power Station near Tampa, Florida, is free!
Be sure to avoid “swim with dolphins” programs, which condemn highly intelligent animals to a lifetime of loneliness in cramped sea pens and often chemically treated concrete pools.