World Vegan Travel is a tour company founded by life partners and travel nomads Brighde Reed and Sebastien Ranger. They offer vegan and vegan-friendly travelers a wide array of memorable travel experiences in the company of like-minded people and knowledgeable local guides. From unique accommodations and delicious local vegan cuisine to ethical and sustainable adventures and everything in between, World Vegan Travel is committed to providing a comfortable and unforgettable trip. We interviewed co-founder Brighde Reed to talk about vegan travel and get more insights on their tours.
How long have you been a vegan and what made you decide to make the switch?
We’ve been vegan for 10 years. Brighde was vegetarian for 20 years but as soon as she learned about the dairy and egg industry she made the switch to a vegan lifestyle. Seb changed from a meat-eater once he realized that he didn’t actually need animal products to live. We both agree that this was the best decision we ever made.
What was the biggest challenge for you before as a vegan traveler?
We just had to change our mindset. As our dear friend Colleen Patrick-Goudreau says ‘If you look through a lens of lack, that’s what you will find. If you look through a lens of abundance, you will find that.’ Yes, there will be some frustrations and annoyances at times when traveling independently as a vegan, we would not change being vegan for quids! It's a great way to live and adds much more to our lives than it takes away.
How much has vegan travel changed since you first started traveling?
Quite a bit! Of course, there are huge changes in the knowledge and awareness of vegan food in restaurants and availability of fun vegan options in hotels, restaurants, and shops has increased so much which make it so much easier. There are also so many websites and platforms now that make travel easier as a vegan. Veg Travel Buddies is one of those, Airbnb and the veg spin-off Veg Visits has allowed us to do self-catering more easily. We can give public constructive criticism to hotels and restaurants which motivates them to improve their vegan options. Sharing of information through social media allows us to be more discerning when it comes to making choices on the activities we might participate in, for example. now we can know if a hotel offers elephant rides to guests and make our consumer choices accordingly. Veganagogo is another app which has useful phrases in 50 languages and Google Translate’s many tools allow us to see what’s inside food products and communicate our needs with servers. We even wrote a blog post on these apps and more.
Can you tell us more about World Vegan Travel? What inspired you to start a vegan travel company?
We both have a background in being tour leaders working for a nonvegan company quite a few years ago before we went vegan. As we got older and didn’t want to backpack anymore and were prepared to pay to stay in more expensive places we found that we often were a bit shortchanged and didn’t get the value for money that nonvegans had. The idea of running our first trip came when chatting with our good friend Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. We put together an itinerary and she encouraged her audience to join her and us and, they did. We’ve worked with Colleen to 4 different destinations on 5 different trips and have more in the pipeline including a probable second trip to Botswana, The Dordogne, and Provence. We are starting to work with other influences like JL Fields and we would love to sell our own trips too in the next year or so.
What makes your tours different from the others?
Well, first of all, we are vegan owned so everything we do is through looking through a vegan lens. We make sure that all the food is vegan and that we do not support or visit anything that exploits animals. We try to shield our guests from witnessing animal exploitation whenever we can and we try to showcase the amazing work that is being done for animal protection in the country or region that we visit. There are some fantastic vegan tour companies out there, but none seem to offer a very high level of service and comfort that ours do neither do they go to the destinations that we go to. We also like to include everything (all meals and even tips) so that all our travelers need to do is relax, enjoy, and get to know their new friends.
What can vegan and non-veg travelers expect when they join your tours?
Our travelers can expect to have a fantastic and life-changing vacation. We do this a number of ways. We create a Facebook group as soon as the trip that is confirmed to answer everyone’s questions and allow our travelers to connect with each other. We also include pretty much everything on the trip except flights to the starting point and the return home. We include all meals and drinks (and there is food in abundance) and even tips for any guides or drivers. We believe that our guests should not be having to worry about tipping! We also work hard to come up with the balance of lots of included activities with free time (with the option of doing extra activities). Our travelers can expect to stay in beautiful, luxurious or unique accommodations and eat amazing vegan food. Our clients often tell us that one of the best things about traveling with other vegans is a lot of fun. Being with like-minded people who share the same values as you is very powerful and also really inspiring. We also often travel to places that people might be hesitant to travel to by themselves. How wonderful to not have to think about any of the planning and organising!
What have you learned about the global vegan community since you started operating your own tours?
We’ve learned that there are vegan communities all over the world doing amazing things. Some countries might be a bit further along than others, but there are passionate vegans all over the world. On a recent trip to Rwanda, during the course of our research, we learned about an organization doing some very important work to help dogs and puppies in the country, an entrepreneur who is the first person creating tofu, seitan and other vegan milks for individuals (and also hotels and restaurants that cooked for our travelers) and a young man who is singlehandedly trying to introduce the first animal welfare bill in to parliament! They are passionate and devoted to bringing about a more compassionate world.
Do you have any advice to anyone traveling as a vegan for the first time?
Our most important advice is that you do not let it stop you doing anything or going anywhere you want. As pretty well-traveled vegans, the worst thing that has happened is that we have had a few bland or repetitive meals. We have never actually gone hungry because there was no vegan food available If you eliminate that worry your mindset changes to be more solutionary.
Some other tips you can consider are:
- Look on Veggie Hotels or Happy Cow for vegan hotels.
- Self-catering is a great option to cook your own food and you save lots of money. Picnics are also a lot of fun.
- Seek out restaurants that usually have vegan options. Indian, Thai and Italian food has lots of vegan options or dishes that are easy to veganise.
- Download the Happy Cow app. It has a great ‘trip’ function. You can look ahead of time and ❤️some exciting options to eliminate any decision fatigue when you are looking for a place to eat after a long day of sightseeing.
- Plan ahead. Consider what you are doing the next day and plan accordingly. If you are doing a big long walk and plan to be stopping at a local pub consider calling ahead or going to the local supermarket to get some good snacks to put in your backpack. You’re not going to go hungry, but it can be reassuring knowing that you won't.
- Consider taking a vegan tour, especially if you are very worried about the food or just traveling alone. You’ll also be traveling with like-minded people which adds a lot to your vacation experience.