Monday 11 November 2019


vegan ecotravel

Vegan EcoTravel – it's a question as old as time* itself: do you get the vegan option that's covered in plastic or the non-vegan option that's not covered in plastic? Which is worse for the environment? Which is worse for your body? And your soul? And the animals' souls? (*yes, okay I exaggerated, it's maybe not as old as time itself, but with vegan travel becoming ever more popular, it's an important question – can you travel vegan and be an eco traveler at the same time?) Many vegans become vegan to help the environment, but I've also had vegans tell me that it's okay to fly because vegans are already doing so much for the environment... Which is kind of like saying it's okay to drink the milk because we've already done so much by not eating the meat, right? Rants about vegans who pose as eco travelers (and feminists) and then turn around and say things like the aforementioned (and don't trust women) aside, here are 5 ways to put ecotourism and vegan travel hand in hand:

What Is Socially Conscious Travel & Eco-travel?

Socially conscious travel (also called socially aware travel, sometimes 'social impact travel') is a way of travelling where the goal of the trip is not simply to fulfill one's individual pleasures and desires - or, if it is, then trying to do it in a way that causes the least possible amount of harm to the least possible amount of living beings involved. Quite a challenge, eh? Well, yeah, it is a different way of doing travelling and it takes some time to get used to it, to work out methods, 'do and don'ts' - it's also about reeducating oneself about what travelling (and the travel industry) is, what nations (and esp nation states) are, what borders mean, what value a passport has, what the specific social, economic and environmental circumstances are when one arrives in any given country. To put it shortly: it takes research. Reading about intersectionality might be a good start - this framework can be applied to any country.

So yeah, if you've already paid for your trip to Italy or your trip to Bhutan via travel agencies - go for it! Please be open to the possibility that these places might teach you something that you were not expecting to learn. Travelling is a great way to get out of the 'my own nation's culture is ultimate the point of reference' kind of point of view - if one is coming from Europe, then especially 'Europe is the centre & most developed part of this planet' kind of point of view ('eurocentrism', in short). Also please be open to travelling in a socially aware way, meaning: do not just go for the pleasure, the nice food, the 'funny' (yikes) 'costumes' (yikes again), the different architecture, music and art, the instashots, blotting out or not acknowledging the social and environmental hardships of the place you go to. And once you've recognized these hardships, do not fetishize them either (disaster- and tragedy tourism ain't cool).

5 Ways for Vegans to Ecotravel

Eco-travel (or ecotravel or eco travel, whichever, whatever) is a specific form of socially aware travelling that focuses on doing the trip in a way that is as least environmentally damaging as possible. I'm a bit careful with the words 'environmentally friendly' or 'clean' or 'green' bc basically there is no such thing as 'clean travel' or '100% green travel'. What exists is lesser evil - and we would like to urge everyone to go for the lesser evil options.

#1. Go With Those That Share Your Values!

vegan ecotravel

I cannot stress how much easier it is to do vegan travel with other vegans who will walk with you those extra miles to find food you can actually eat! Extend that to ecotravelling too and pick friends that are both into vegan travel AND ecotravel – now you have people to walk even further to find food you can eat AND who also care about the environment. But where do I find these magical friends that share my core values? Personally, I recommend the internet, you can and will find anyone on there. Start by searching relevant hashtags on Instagram, and relevant groups on Facebook. OKCupid is also a very good website for making vegan friends (not just romantic liaisons ;) Also, if you happen to come across an influencer that you like and who is vegan and eco-friendly, why not ask them to host a tour? I'm really into TrovaTrip at the moment (partly because they asked me to host a tour lol) but mostly because I love their concept*: connecting influencers and travellers together so they can travel together on a tour that fits all. (*Hence the reason I agreed to host a tour in the future, check their website: to see if there are any other vegan ecotravelers offering tours.)

#2. Start House Sitting!

vegan ecotourism

I wrote a whole post about why house sitting can be the best way for vegans to travel (if you can't be bothered to read it, the short answer is, you get your own kitchen and perhaps a pantry full of fruit & veg... if you're lucky :) ) But it doesn't stop there, of course, house sitting can definitely be seen as a subsection of ecotourism:  no more worrying about the eco footprint of a hotel, or arguing whether airbnb is ethical or not. House sitting is eco-friendly because:

  • you decide how much power, water or gas to use (and if you are more eco-conscious than the owner, you migh end up using much less than them).
  • if you figure out a more eco-friendly way to use the house, you can (very politely!) let the owner know and thus influence someone into turning their house into a more eco-friendly home themselves.
  • you can even take it a step further and opt for an off-the-grid, eco-friendly house sit like the one I did in Ireland.

If you are interested, click here to browse house sits. Also, I have severa videos about (vegan) house sitting, here is an introductory one:

#3. Double Check If You Even Need to Go

Okay, give me a second or so of sounding like a party pooper: do you really need to go to that specific country or city? Like do you REALLY REALLY need to go? Because at the end of the day, flying is one of the absolute worst things we (as individuals, not massive corporations) can possibly do. So, do you really need to take that flight to see friends/family or could you just skype? Do you really need to fly from Europe to New Zealand or could you just take the train to Slovenia (aka the New Zealand or Europe)? Do you really need to fly over to Vegas or could you just play gambling online? Take it from someone who has been to Vegas and hated it – it's better to stay at home lol. (Also, Vegas wastes a lot of energy on lights lights lights, powered mostly by coal, gas and oil). Although it's a common misconception that there are very few options for vegans in restaurants around the world (hello, chips, rice and salad are in every country) it is still true that in some places one of the hardest parts of veganism is accessibility like in some places they put beef dust on chips (McDonalds USA); or sour cream on salad (Hungary). So when it comes to your bucketlist, you could try prioritising more vegan friendly countries, that are also eco-friendly to get to.

#4. And If You Do Go, Don't Go By Plane

Building on that point, if you do decide to go, go by any other means possible: hike, bike - whether you choose bikes for women or go for one of the bikes for men, or even pick a bike that doesn't care about your gender! Trike, hitchhike, carpool, train, bus, tram, ferry, boat, ship – whichever! is a good start to finding alternative, more eco-friendly, means of transport.

#5. Pick a Vegan Tour That's Eco-Friendly

Support tours and people that share your values and pick a tour that's both vegan-friendly and fits into the ecotourism bracket. Better yet, opt for a completely vegan tour, that's also eco-conscious. For example, take World Vegan Travel, (who are currently offering 100% vegan tours to Thailand, Vietnam, Rhwanda, Botswana, France and South Africa) they're completely vegan (obvs) and they definitely tick that ecotravel box too. According to their Responsible Travel Policy, they:

  • ask people to bring a refillable water bottle from home (or they provide them)
  • for any take away food they insist on eliminating or minimizing any single use
  • all their travelers are provided with a cutlery kit made from up-cycled fabric and a tote bag and includes bamboo cutlery and a straw
  • they ask the hotels to replace any plastic water bottles with glass (in the room)
  • they do volunteer beach clean ups
  • they remind restaurants many times about the use of single use plastics (straws and bottles)

... among many other things :)

Wrap Up: Socially Conscious Eco-travel for Vegans

Well, that's about it. There are several more ways to do this (composting, saving water, saving electricity, cooking instead of eating out, etc.) We actually made a video about this in case you're interested! We also made a video - in case you wanna write about your travels - about how to (possibly) do travelling in a bit more ethical way (ethical tourism meaning: the 'lesser evil') Enjoy :)

P.S.: If you're interested in an app designed for vegans & wanna support the vegan movement and us, veganvstravel as well, use this link plz to download Abillionveg. When registering, please use our referral code: TRAVELLINGWEASELS. If you wanna know why we think this is a great app, read here.

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