A travel niche that is growing at an astonishing rate is the “food tourism” industry. From the fine wines of France to the artisanal goods of Italy, many travelers have long engaged in cuisine-oriented journeys and, indeed, food is part and parcel with any “exotic” experience.
Gourmands know to go to Tokyo and Paris for the best the world has to offer, but what about travelers seeking specific experiences?
In particular, what do vegans do when they want to go abroad on some food tourism excursion of their own?
To meet the growing demand of the vegan tourism market, new tour operators have been popping up to create programs for this specialized group. One such tour operator is the Texas-based VegVoyage. This operator caters to vegan consumers who seek experiences that have minimal impact on the environment and wildlife while also being able to enjoy excellent food.
VegVoyages co-founder Zac Lovas said there is a definite demand for vegan travel because the concept of a vegan lifestyle is more accepted now than it was in the past.
“More people around the world are warming up to vegan ideas, concepts and benefits who were previously put off by the mere mention of the word ‘vegan’, much less considering it as a full-time or part-time diet in their daily life. This directly fuels vegan travel – whether it’s more vegans searching for vegan travel options or more non-vegans not fearing being on a tour with vegans and eating vegan meals for one or two weeks at a time,” he told Forbes.
For practitioners of the strict vegan diet, traveling around the world can become a hassle. Often relegated to salads and side dishes for the duration of their journey, many vegan tourists seek out restaurants and travel itineraries that accommodate their dietary choices.
Since food is also such an essential part of many cultures, vegans can sometimes be left out of the total travel experience.
And not all localities adhere to the same standards, and that’s where Lovas and his team work with local communities to educate them and build understanding about vegan food and life. This is so that travelers on his trips can have the authentic experience without having to worry about their food being what they expected.
The most popular travel destinations for the company include India, Bali, Thailand, Sumatra and Laos.
Approximately 75% of Lovas customers are vegans themselves with the rest being spouses or friends that are looking into veganism as a lifestyle.