Hola! I am writing this post from Barcelona, Spain, while on holiday. Travel has been one of my most precious experiences. I am very lucky to have seen a great deal of the world which has allowed me wonderful and varied experiences many involving food. Traveling as a vegetarian, vegan or simply health consciously can be very challenging so I am delighted to introduce you to a great online resource today.
Veggie Hotels is an online accommodation directory listing more than 400 hotels, guest houses, B&Bs and health retreats that offer purely vegetarian or vegan cuisine. I hooked up with the organization’s Founder/CEO Thomas Klein for an interview and to learn about life on the road in search of veggies.
What is your background and why did you decide to start Veggie Hotels?
At the beginning there was a vested interest. My wife Karen and I have been vegetarian for decades and became vegan two years ago. As travel journalists we were always out and about.
However, it was often difficult and generally took a lot of effort to find purely vegetarian hotels and guest houses. Since at that time there was no extensive collection of vegetarian accomodation, we saw it as a challenge to create a possibly complete list of world wide hotels, B&Bs and guest houses who specialise in vegetarian cuisine on one platform. Together with the IT expert Peter Haunert we then launched VeggieHotels.
Country House Montali, Italy
What are your personal favourite Veggie Hotels and why?
By now we have more than 400 houses listed on VeggieHotels, but we only know a few personally. Out of those we are especially fascinated by houses with a special and individual touch, e.g. the “Country House Montali” in Umbria/Italy with its excellent cuisine, or the “Gutshaus Stellshagen” in Northern Germany. Stellshagen is truly a Veggie oasis with over 100 employees and a broad offer of courses and seminars.
Is it possible to have an overseas holiday as a vegan or vegetarian without stressing about hunting down your next meal?
As a vegetarian and especially as a vegan it is important to inform yourself about the situation at your travel destination. Purely vegetarian hotels and guest houses are perfect for relaxing for once, without having trouble finding something to eat. Here you know for sure that every meal is prepared without using meat or fish. Most of the VeggieHotels offer a variety of vegan dishes as well. Over 40 houses even have a purely vegan kitchen.
What is the best restaurant you have eaten at while traveling?
Off the top of my head I’d say a vegetarian restaurant in Chennai/India which is connected to the New Woodlands hotel. Maybe I was just very hungry, but the thought of this delicious and extensive Thali with many kinds of vegetables, rice, Dal and breads, still makes my mouth water today.
Gutshaus Stellshagen, Germany
In your experience which country’s cuisine is the most veggie friendly?
That has to be India, of course. But it is a little bit tricky for vegans, as Indian cuisine uses a lot of Ghee (clarified butter). Germany is also very advanced in vegetarian restaurants and hotels. Berlin, the city where I live, is truly a vegetarian and vegan heaven, with lots of vegetarian and vegan restaurants and even vegan supermarkets.
Why do you think more and more people are choosing the health related, ecological and ethical advantages of a vegetarian or vegan life style?
It is simply a matter of adding one and one together. If you consciously reflect upon information about the ecological, ethical and health impact that food has, including the very negative results of industrial meat production, you come to a point where you have to make a choice. It is very obvious that more and more people are taking the step and deciding that they no longer want to be a part of a cruel, unhealthy and ecologically destructive industry.
Do you have any healthy living idols?
I admire people like Paul McCartney. I love his music and the sympathetic and consequent way he promotes a vegetarian lifestyle.
What is ahead for Veggie Hotels in the future?
As VeggieHotels has become the number one web-resource to find purely vegetarian and vegan hotels, guest houses and B&Bs worldwide in just two years, we see it as a challenge to keep up the standard and provide the profiles of our hotels with more details and search functions, so that every visitor of www.veggie-hotels.com will easily find the house where he or she can spend a relaxed vacation.