Vegan travel: It’s not fringe anymore

NEW YORK (NYTIMES) – When she went vegan about four years ago, bartender Colleen Corbett thought she might be forced to eat meat when travelling abroad.

Instead, it was just the beginning of her explorations of the burgeoning vegan destinations that have flourished around the world.

"It's changed how I make my bucket list," she said between trips to Peru in December and Dublin in March.

"It used to be just scenic stuff. Now, I find myself adding cities I wouldn't have had an interest in before, but have booming vegan scenes. I just added Warsaw."

A growing number of people are interested in reducing their meat consumption, often for environmental reasons, as livestock operations significantly produce climate-disruptive methane gas.

The travel industry is countering with plant-centric hotels, restaurants, festivals and tours as veganism becomes increasingly associated with sustainable travel.

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Vegan diets consist exclusively of plant-based foods, excluding meat as well as animal-derived foods such as eggs, dairy products and honey.

Many vegans have satisfied their carnivorous cravings with fake meats by brands such as Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods. The non-profit Good Food Institute, which promotes alternative proteins, said 2020 was a record year for investment in alternatives at US$3.1 billion (S$4.2 billion), more than three times the US$1 billion invested in 2019.

"Never before has the demand for plant-based fine dining been as popular," said Mr Joan Roca, founder and chief executive of Essentialist, a members-only travel-planning service company.

Hotels are rolling out the plant-based welcome mat with vegan menus and interior design.

Vegan restaurant additions span the range of lodgings, from Marriott Bonvoy's Aloft Hotels – which recently added vegan and vegetarian breakfast items in its grab-and-go lobby markets at more than 150 North American hotels – to the high-end Peninsula Hotels, which will launch a new wellness initiative in March, including plant-based dishes as well as sleep-promoting aromatherapy.

Some used the pandemic hiatus of 2020 to turn over a new leaf, so to speak, including the Andaz Mayakoba resort on Mexico's Riviera Maya, which introduced VB, short for vegan bar, serving rice ball salads and Chaya leaf wraps beside the beach.

Rooms are also going vegan with plant-based amenities and interior design.

On Mykonos in Greece, Koukoumi Hotel opened in 2020 with a vegan restaurant, a spa that uses only plant-based massage oils and rooms furnished with vegan mattresses made with coconut fibre.

Artmotion Asia

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