There are lots of things to bear in mind when holidaying as a vegan. Obviously the food will be something to think about. For others, trying to travel in an eco-friendly way is also important. In addition, an increasing number of people are choosing to spend the time they have away from their jobs in a productive and fruitful manner. To this end, they may choose to volunteer at sanctuaries or other organisations.
Vegan volunteering abroad
When looking at taking a ‘volunteering vacation’ the first decision to make is whether you want to go it alone, and contact sanctuaries and other places directly, or through an agency.
It’s really important to ensure the work you are doing, and the organisations you are working with, are fully immersed in helping rather than exploiting animals. Double check all the information you receive about any opportunities with as many people as you can – trustworthy charities, and people who have previously volunteered there is a good start.
An organisation called Veg Voyages is one port of call. The company organises what it describes as ‘vegan adventure tours’ in Asia, and cites ‘responsible travel’ as one of its principles. The founders believe that travel should benefit the traveller, and the destination, so charitable activities are part of the adventures on offer. These can include working at animal sanctuaries, and children’s homes, among other options.
According to the organisation: “As part of VegVoyages’ aim to bring people closer to the destination we are in, we regularly visit with our groups to raise awareness and contribute to several worthy causes. From helping keep rural schools running by providing books and other materials to assisting in funding for grassroots social welfare, animal rights and care organizations. For us travel is not only our business, but a way to do something – however modest it may be – to help communities, people, animals and other causes we believe in. In addition to direct help, we also always try to use locally grown produce and ingredients for our meals, hire local guides, cooks, drivers, etc., stay in locally owned accommodations and conduct our adventures in an eco and community friendly way as possible.”
Jacob’s Ridge in Spain offers a European volunteering getaway. Guests pay for their accommodation, food, drinks, and airport transport in one lump sum. They go on sightseeing tours, as well as doing activities, then do a few hours working with the animals during the day.
According to the founders: “Jacobs Ridge offers Volunteer/Holidays stays where people can come and be a part of the sanctuary, taking part in the day to day care of the animals whilst enjoying a holiday at the same time. 2015 was our first year and it sold out.
“We are super proud that through the support of our volunteers we have been able to save even more animals and will continue to grow and expand. Our goal is to help as many animals as possible and to continue promoting a 100 per cent vegan lifestyle, something we are keen to promote through food and our animal family. We have met some wonderful people already through the programme and look forward to a future filled with more positivity and love.”
If you fancy something less like a holiday, and much more like an adventure, why not check out Sea Shepherd’s volunteering options? While you can volunteer onshore at various locations, the charity is usually looking for crew to work on its ocean-going ships. It’s not for the faint hearted – as the organisation says, there is no pay, long hours, dangerous conditions, and extreme weather to contend with. On the plus side, it is sure to be a true adventure. According to Sea Shephard: “We are looking for navigators, sailors, engineers, mechanics, electricians, carpenters, welders, cooks, doctors, medics or nurses, small boat operators, helicopter pilots, scuba divers, photographers, videographers, computer specialists, and even a few unskilled dedicated whale defenders.” On board missions rarely last for less than a month, so it is an endeavour requiring dedication, and lots of time away from your everyday life.
Hmm. I fancy something a bit more relaxing…
As veganism itself continues to grow, so do specifically plant-based travel options. Water-faring types may enjoy taking one of the vegan river cruises on offer.
The aptly-named Vegan River Cruises offers a number of travel options. According to the company: “While it’s possible for many to do without animal products at home, while on vacation it turns out to be much more difficult. In most hotels and spas, you may get an irritated look when you say that you don’t consume or use animal products. First and foremost, this of course happens with food. If a person who eats a vegan diet wishes to travel, they most often encounter a problem the very first evening. The restaurant does not make vegan dishes, and purely vegan restaurants are primarily found only in large cities. The menus are usually limited in their offerings, and you may meet with a lack of understanding and knowledge on the part of the server; usually they know of no alternatives – even though there are plenty.”
This company – along with a few others – offers a range of cruises on rivers including the Danube, the Seine, and the Rhine.
I think I’d prefer to stay on dry land
There are an increasing number of options for you here too. More and more vegan and vegan-friendly B&Bs and hotels have been popping up both in the UK and abroad.
The Loving Hut Hotel on Lake Klopein in Austria is a significant example. Launched in 2010, the hotel restaurant serves 100 per cent vegan, non GMO options. There is a private beach for guests. According to the Loving Hut organisation: “Loving Hut was created with the vision that all beings may live in peace, love and harmony with each other and the earth. Our inn, a smoke-free establishment, is located in Carinthia, Austria’s southernmost state. It is situated on Lake Klopein. It’s temperature of 28°C makes it one of Europe’s warmest lakes for swimming. The area also has beautiful scenery, making it one of the most popular holiday destinations in Europe.
“Near our inn you can visit a variety of attractions or simply relax in the tranquil atmosphere. Inside the inn there are many fine, hand-painted pictures, as well as exquisite ornamental lighting. The guest rooms are simple yet elegant in their decor. Our restaurant features a lovely, charming garden. Every morning the restaurant provides inn guests with a healthy, vegan buffet breakfast. Enjoy a relaxing breakfast time in the beautiful garden surroundings.”
UK-based vegans can nip across to Normandy in France for a trip to La Maison du Vert – a veggie and vegan hotel featuring an international menu and a huge range of local vegan organic drinks. The hotel is in the countryside, offering relaxing walks as well as the option to visit local markets. For those based in the United Kingdom, who fancy a staycation, there are various veggie and vegan B&Bs.