Christina Newberry is an award-winning travel and lifestyle writer based in Vancouver.
Three Vancouver-based vegan influencers joined Intrepid Travel at a launch event this week to highlight the company’s first three vegan food tours, set to launch in 2019.
READ MORE: Intrepid launches three new vegan food tours
Vegan influencers weigh in
Zach Berman, Steph Yu and Erin Ireland joined the pilot trip to India and helped shape the final itinerary. All three agreed that the tour offered the opportunity to dive into local foods and culture in a way that’s often not available to those with dietary restrictions.
“Our guide pre-vetted the street food, which was some of the best food," said Berman. "They use a lot of ghee, so it would otherwise be hard to know what has dairy.”
“We had four meals in the homes of Indian people,” Ireland said. “There’s nothing like a home-cooked meal. Our guide hooked it up so we were connected to the locals.”
“We stopped to eat at a highway roadside eatery,” Yu said. “I was blown away by the food.”
Berman noted that knowing all Intrepid guides are full-time employees provided an added layer of comfort. Kasi Dundas, Intrepid’s PR coordinator for North America, added that all guides are paid fair wages in the local currency.
Veganism in Canada is growing
Mark Nessle, senior business development Manager North America, told PAX that the vegan trips are serving a clear need in the Canadian market.
“The biggest thing for agents to know is that consumers are looking for niche trips,” Nessle said. “We want to make sure that when our guests are travelling, they are able to live, eat, and be comfortable in a way that suits their lifestyle.”
Vegan influencers for Intrepid's vegan food tour event in Vancouver.
Response from agents has been “massive,” Nessle added.
“We didn’t anticipate how much of a market there would be,” he said. “It’s really great to see, and to be on the forefront of the vegan travel movement.”
A recent study at Dalhousie University found that nearly 40 per cent of British Columbians under 35 are vegan or vegetarian.
“From the travel agent’s perspective, that means nearly half your clients under a certain age are vegetarian,” Dundas said.
While the new line of tours is specifically designed for vegan travellers, all Intrepid food tours can be customized for those with special dietary requirements, Nessle said. “We harness local leaders in the destination to bring it to life the way people want to experience it.”
The launch event, which featured vegan food and cocktails inspired by the tour itineraries, was also a fundraiser through The Intrepid Foundation for KOTO, a vocational training program for rural and underprivileged youth in Vietnam.
Intrepid’s first three vegan food tours take travellers to India (Delhi, Jaipur, Agra), Italy (Venice, Bologna, San Gimigano, Rome), and Thailand (Chiang Mai, Ayutthaya, Kanchanaburi, Bangkok). Unveiled less than two weeks ago, the tours will appear in the 2019 brochure that launches in November. In the meantime, agents can learn more at intrepidtravel.com/ca/vegan-food-adventures.