By Maneka Gandhi
This is my third article on the subject of business opportunities for vegans. The first two were about creating and marketing products and some services. This is about vegan hotels and retreats.
Bed and Broccoli – www.bedandbroccoli.com.au is a Vegan Bed & Breakfast in Australia. It offers vegan food, sauces, jams, preserves and chutneys, soaps, vegan cleaning products, and they are animal friendly. In fact, they rescue abandoned animals themselves and all customers have the added experience of friendly dogs and cats. The owner explains that “Being vegan and unable to find vegan accommodation is what inspired Bed and Broccoli to open for business”.
There are thousands of such small hotels across the world. There is a site for vegetarian hotels which was started by two Germans, to which I have recommended a truly beautiful Tibetan, one called Norbulinka where I stayed some years ago. I googled vegan hotels just now and got 12.40 crore results! Right on top is veganhotels.com and they are advertising the most exciting places, in areas where you believe they would only have seafood – atolls in the Indian Ocean, the Maldives. Their food menu is delicious – enough to convert any carnivore! When you start one in India make sure you register it on their site.
You could also make a vegan nature retreat and offer not just a healthy way of eating, but workshops, meditation, fitness centres and spas, walks. You could sell oils, products not tested on animals, and food from there as well. No milk in any form, because then it is not vegan. You could even make it solar powered.
If you are vegan, you could offer your own rooms to just vegan travellers under the Airbnb scheme. It would be a relief to travellers not to worry about what they are getting fed in a homestay.
Another way to earn money is to hold vegan camps for children in the summer and winter holidays. The camps can be for two days, or a week, depending on the activities lined up. Mountaineering, trekking, walks even in the city. But, apart from their activities and the vegan food, it would do two things: it would allow vegan children to get to know each other and it would teach the science behind conscious living. Educational teaching with films on food choices, how to live healthily and how to respect the rest of the world, could make for a more thoughtful child and gentler human society. KidsMakeaDifference.org and VeganCamp.org are two sites that might help you structure such a programme. Abroad, these camps have resulted in hundreds of children becoming vegan.
Youth Empowered Action Camp – www.yeacamp.org – is a summer camp for youth 12-17 who want to make a difference in the world. YEA trains young activists and builds knowledge, skills, confidence and community with youth change-makers. YEA Camp serves all-vegan food, although being vegan is not a requirement to come to the camp. While this is an American organisation, I see no reason why an Indian one cannot be started.
Evolotus PR was created to serve socially beneficial clients, such as nonprofits, documentary films, animal advocacy campaigns, books, health/wellness and vegan products. Their mission is to help like-minded organisations and businesses tell their story and gain visibility to create a better, more sustainable and peaceful world. The owners explain, “Getting media attention for these issues is a form of activism for us.”
Sweta Thakur started a public relations company, called the Graffiti Collaborative, in Bangalore. After making a success of it she realised that her heart was not in doodles and jingles for products and would-be stars, and more in changing the way we live. So she became vegan and oriented her agency to promote vegan companies and products. She came to see me some months ago and this resulted in my ministry adding vegan shops to our national organic mela. Now she has a permanent vegan mela, called Wilderfest, which had its first opening in Bangalore and then at Selectcity Mall in Delhi with hundreds of products. Apart from that they do public relations for animal groups, documentary film festivals. It is possible to do what you believe. Unhappiness comes when you separate yourself from what you do: Jains selling gelatine for instance.
Vegan Edge Consulting – firstname.lastname@example.org – operates worldwide and is a Business Development & Marketing agency working exclusively with vegan businesses & entrepreneurs. They offer Strategy & Planning, Branding & Marketing, Web Development & Graphic Design services. They also run several Vegan Facebook pages: Vegan Business Guide, Toronto Vegan Guide. Become A Vegan, and Vegan Maven. Why can’t a regular financial service in India start a wing like this?
Or, if you have money, and want to change the world, why not start a cruelty free angel investor fund? Or an ethical investor fund in which you tell your investors that you will only invest in companies that are environmentally sustainable and vegan. Cruelty Free Super is an Australian Superfund and it is promoted through social media. It’s a vegan-friendly Superfund, investing in line with cruelty free principles. Lee Coates, OBE, founded Ethical Money Pty Ltd in 2010. This innovative vegan business takes cruelty free principles to the heart of the animal unfriendly financial system.
This might be a doable idea – but with very little money to be earned. Start a Vegan Professionals Facebook group.
The idea that I like best – it appeals to the curious, searching-for-magic, part of me. Start a company called The Magic Vegan and people become members for mystery boxes. Every month I will get, as a member, a box full of amazing vegan products, from foods to creams to clothes and footwear, to whatever you can think of – from games to dyes, seeds, even coupons from vegan hotels. And the addresses of the companies would be given, so that if I liked the product I could buy directly from them. You would buy the products from them wholesale and retail them to me at the price you charge for the monthly membership. If the idea worked, I could gift the TMV membership as birthday and wedding presents. Please somebody quickly start this!
As a vegan entrepreneur you can be bold, sophisticated and yet harm no one. You can use the beauty and bounty of the earth and leave it better for both animals and humans. Vegans commit themselves to learning, education, service to the community, fair trade, empathy and love – while making money. What more could you want?
(To join the animal welfare movement contact email@example.com, www.peoplefor animalsindia.orgndhim@nic)