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World Wide Vegan

Traveling as a Vegan - Tips, Tricks, Recipes & More

Vegan Hawaiian Luaus

Sunday, March 16, 2008

If you are planning a trip to Hawaii and you want to experience a Vegan Hawaiian Luau be aware that there are really only 2 options. Fortunately one of those options is the Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu which is by far the most spectacular cultural event in the South Pacific. I'll expound later.

First let me tell you that Hawaiians are big meat eaters. And consequently the typical, touristy luaus are not vegan friendly. Nearly all Luaus include a traditional Imu (pig) ceremony where the tourists gather around the fire pit as the whole pig is dug up from the underground oven. My first luau was decades ago, before I was a vegan, and still it was one of the most grotesque experiences of my life. After seeing that poor pig being lifted from the earth and then torn to shreds for our consumption I wasn't able to eat anything at all.

We have traveled all over the South Pacific and have attended many luaus in Hawaii and none of them hold a candle to the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC). The PCC is an all day event in which you will experience the many peoples and cultures of the South Pacific. You will learn to do the hula, play Polynesian games, and see the best Polynesian shows offered anywhere in the world. And to make it just about perfect, the PCC offers a vegetarian luau which also offers many vegan dishes including: Vegetarian chili, white rice, baked island sweet potatoes, green salad, spinach salad, poi, pineapple and other local fruits and salads, cucumber/carrot salad, pineapple bars and more.

Not only can you enjoy the Ali'i vegetarian buffet but there are several other restaurants and buffets which offer even more vegan options including tofu dishes and island fare. I absolutely recommend visiting the PCC and experiencing the one of a kind entertainment and eateries. You get all of the entertainment, classes and shows regardless of where you choose to eat, making your culinary experience a personal choice.

The second vegan option is on the Island of Kauai. It isn't a luau in the traditional sense. In fact is it just a buffet featuring all vegan, island-style food at the Blossoming Lotus in Kapaa on the Coconut Coast. Once a month they feature an all-vegan luau style buffet which is an absolutely delicious way to taste island fare. There are no Hawaiian-style shows or cultural activities included, but the feast is well worth attending. Call ahead to see when they are having their monthly buffet and arrange your trip accordingly. Otherwise visit the restaurant anytime to experience their delicious, daily, vegan cuisine.

Tip: Most of the larger hotels offer free, Hawaiian-style entertainment at least one night a week. And in the evenings the malls and even the larger restaurants have hula dancers Hawaiian music and activities to enjoy. So I suggest you forgo the expensive, pig cooking, luau and get your fill of Hawaii in other ways.

If you still plan to attend a traditional luau I suggest eating before you go and spend your time enjoying the entertainment. And of course you should avoid the Imu ceremony or you may find yourself flying into a rage and causing a scene.

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posted by Karen Dougherty, 3:15 AM


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