Part of the Active Outdoor Vegans series, this interview is with Taran (of Go Sea Kayak) and his partner Melissa. Both avid outdoor adventurers and vegans, Taran is also a sea kayaking guide and outdoor photographer. They share with us a bit about their love of nature and outdoor activities, along with their favourite vegan camping food, vegan bars, what led them to the vegan lifestyle, and some tips for camping. The photos are from their trip last summer in Sardinia.
First, let’s start with introductions…
What are your names?
Taran Tyla (Mr Tea) & Melissa Perozzi (Skippy)
How long have you been passionate about outdoor adventure? And what are your favourite outdoor activities?
Taran: I’ve been outdoorsy & adventurous all my life. As a small child I would run away from home, something my parents weren’t keen on as I’d often arrive home in a police car. During high school years I found my own outdoor classroom far more entertaining than the school that I was supposed to be in! My favourite activity is sea kayaking as it lets me see & explore some amazing locations that are hidden from people on the land. I also love walking, cycling & skinny dipping 🙂
Melissa: Since I was very young and my mum used to put jelly lizards on the rocks to entice me to walk. Since as long back as I can remember being outdoors just makes me feel good. Fave activities are cycle trips with a tent, hiking long trails and horse riding.
What led you to the vegan lifestyle?
Taran: It was a simple ethics thing for me! I’d been vegetarian for half my life but after a little research into the dairy industry I decided to go vegan & am so glad I did! It also fits in with my Pagan beliefs that all living things are equal, just fellow Earthlings made from stardust trying to follow our own paths in life.
Melissa: I was lucky, my path was already partly walked by my family since my granny and mum were always vegetarian. I went pescatarian when I was about seven and then later vegetarian which naturally led onto veganism.
Do you have a favourite vegan food or snack for having when you’re busy with your activity?
Do you have a favourite post-activity vegan meal?
Taran: Easy this question! Coffee & biscuits and then whatever Melissa is making!
Melissa: Something quick like pasta with loads of olives over a nice homemade vegetable sauce.
Has it been difficult to find or prepare vegan meals, particularly for longer trips?
Taran & Melissa: Sometimes. Italy is a nightmare for oat lovers & we both love porridge! Muesli can be a problem too as it usually has milk in it but vegan muesli can be found if you’re prepared to look, (Hard!). We ended up just buying what we could find and tipping it into a dry bag that was mostly muesli with the odd windfall of oats being added with wild pine nuts & almonds. Food preparation on a wee gas stove can be fun and Melissa introduced me to the delights of the hotbox. Basically wrapping the cooking pans in our sleeping bags once boiled to finish the cooking, just like simmering but without the gas. This saved us a lot of gas, something that can be hard to find in the smaller towns!
Have you found it difficult to find vegan outdoor gear? Do you have any favourite vegan outdoor supplies and/or vegan food?
Taran: For meals on kayak trips or if going down the de-hy route then I like Pack-N-Go as they have a few yummy vegan options to eat. I tend to take these for emergencies but Melissa likes to dip into these rations far too early!
Melissa: I think vegan gear is overrated! I just buy normal things that are not obviously leather. And I enjoy making food, not buying it.
You work as a guide, as well as doing some writing and being an outdoor photographer, could you tell us a bit about that?
Taran: It’s just a blatant excuse to try & make a living doing something that I love as well as being able to share the experience with people. OK, I’m being far too simplistic with that response! Kayaking is a deep passion of mine but I also have a very artistic streak in me that I explore with my photography and writing. Photography actually came before the kayaking & I used this as a reason to travel & spend time in nature, meditatively waiting for the light as the colours ebbed and flowed before my eyes.
What does your typical day or week look like activity wise?
Taran: Quite boring for me I reckon! I’ve adapted to fit the drudgery of working and living in Cardiff to earn the money I need to do my adventures but also fund any bigger business ambitions. I do however make time for kayaking with my friends even if it’s just my regular paddle out to the Holm Islands in the Bristol Channel. I s’pose though that for many that would still be quite adventurous but it’s becoming routine for me and my friends and I think that’s fab!
Melissa: Every day I try to exercise or just get out into the fresh air. I am a live-in carer for some of the time during the Winter so sometimes it is hard. But come Summer and month long adventures and there is no stopping me! 🙂
What is one of your most memorable trips or outdoor adventures so far?
Taran: Probably my shortest but most ambitious! I attempted to circumnavigate the Outer Hebrides by sea kayak but the weather didn’t co-operate and I gave myself quite a scare. As I rounded the south western tip of the most southern island (Berneray?) the sea got rougher & rougher. I was in a very remote uninhabited area with big sea cliffs and nowhere to get out without heading back to the eastern side of the previous island. I had to make a decision, east or west? I just focussed & kept paddling along the rougher western side of the islands to eventually land on Vatersay after about six hours of paddling with a very big sigh of relief!
Melissa: Without a doubt the cycle adventure we did this Summer: right around Sardinia via the coast roads carrying all our stuff… sleeping wild in the tent or bivvying under the stars. And washing in the sea, that was special.
How many long or short trips do you take per year? Do you have a favourite place to go?
Taran: Not as many as I’d like!
Melissa: About two longer trips per year, always in the Summer somewhere hot. Italy is my favourite place at the moment but I dream of going back to adventure in Africa.
What do you feel is the best thing about being vegan?
Taran: Being vegan for me gives me a sense of being complete, I feel whole if that makes sense? I think when I was vegetarian that I was incomplete without knowing why?
Melissa: So many things! Living a simpler, slower and more ethical life. Also meeting other people on this good path.
Do you have any tips or advice for fellow vegans and outdoor enthusiasts?
Taran: Just do it! If you have a crazy idea you are halfway to an amazing adventure. I thought kayaking around the Welsh coastline was a crazy idea when I conceived it but I made it around the coast and remember that trip with many smiles and amazing memories and I think that is the whole point to adventure?
Melissa: Go slow and enjoy your trip by getting closer to nature. Let the place you are in sink into your skin; sleep outside in a tent or bath in a river or the sea. It may feel like torture at times but it works! Any cycle adventure or hiking trip is incredibly low cost (and a lot simpler) if you can accommodate yourself. So invest in a good tent (or go with someone who has one) and you will be surprised at how cheap it is! Be aware that you will probably become addicted!
Is there a place or adventure you would like to visit or return to one day? Do you have something planned for the near future?
Taran: There are so many crazy ideas floating around in my head! I do feel however that the next big one will be on two wheels again? Madagascar is looking interesting to me 🙂
Melissa: Any cycle adventure. Hopefully in Africa, India or Italy.
And where can people find you (website, social media, etc)?
Melissa: Unfortunately I am not a technology person but find me walking about in the sun somewhere.
Thank you both. We look forward to following your future adventures!
Watch a film about one of GoSeaKayak’s latest adventures!
Visit the GoSeaKayak blog for reports from various sea kayaking trips as well as great adventure and nature photography!
Read more from the Active Outdoor Vegans series.
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