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Vegan Travel Suggestions Discussion Forum

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Hello All!

I'm new to this site. Until recently, I was a high school Culinary Arts teacher ... but our state economy in Arizona is such that budget cuts have terminated my program. This is the 2nd time that I've been laid off due to budget cuts in the past six years. It's a bit frustrating because teachers in Arizona rank towards the bottom of the nation in terms of teacher salaries. Most teachers never had a problem with this because the low pay used to be offset by some degree of job security. So long as you did your job and were a good teacher, you pretty much had a job for life. This is no longer true and good teachers by the hundreds have been steadily laid off for the past several years.

Instead of moving yet again in the pursuit of yet another teaching job, I've given some thought to returning to Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania realty market is such that I still own a home there. It's been on the market since 2007. My home is (or was) a Victorian B&B Inn ... seven bedrooms with attached bathrooms ... eight if you count the innkeeper's suite.

Instead of running this place as a typical B&B, I've been thinking about turning it into a vegan B&B that would pair vegan cooking workshops with overnight (or longer) stays.

Since I wasn't raised as a vegan let alone a vegetarian, the single biggest problem I had when I adopted a vegan diet was the fact that I missed a lot of my favorite comfort foods.

This led me to create vegan version recipes of popular comfort foods such as chicken fried steak, Sichuan Pork, spaghetti with meatballs and Italian sausage, and steamed fish with Cantonese Sauce.

It also led me into writing and I am now producing a 10 volume vegan cookbook series called "The Unintentional Vegan, Vegan Version Recipes of Popular Comfort Foods." Volume 1: Beef, is currently available as an e-book through Amazon.com.

So ... here is my concern.

There are a lot more non-vegans out there than vegans ... so if I opened a vegan B&B inn that was primarily tied to vegan cooking workshops, I could alienate non-vegans.

I don't want to exclude people from the inn for being non-vegan or non-vegetarian ... but I can also see that having a vegan inn could create all sorts of guest complaints from non-vegans about the quality of their breakfast i.e. why aren't you serving eggs? Where's the bacon? Why don't you have any milk?

I really don't want to produce non-vegan foods. It would after all seem hypocritical to offer non-vegan foods in a supposedly vegan inn that also offered vegan cooking workshops.

I don't think non-vegans would enjoy my vegan scrambled eggs (made with rice, bean curd, and soy cheese) but they might enjoy my pancakes and almond crusted french toast. I could also offer cereal and fresh fruit. I've even created a recipe for a faux yogurt made with soy milk, various flavorings, and agar-agar.

With this being said, having previously run an inn for three years, I know that some guests can be fickle ... and I really don't want to have to explain over and over again the concept of veganism or why the inn is vegan friendly.

As a business owner, I know that I'd have to state this up front ... but even so, I would anticipate receiving complaints and or foolish questions about why this vegan inn doesn't serve non-vegan foods.

Even if I told guests upfront that this was a vegan inn and even if I posted this on the business website, I'm sure I'd still have people nattering on about this.

I'd appreciate hearing any constructive thoughts regarding the operation of a vegan B&B inn. Good idea? Bad idea? What do I do to head off the complaints of non-vegan guests who want their bacon and eggs?

Responses (8)

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by SkipStein at 05/29/13 05:42:06

    Good questions all. I am certainly no expert but there are a lot of nutritional vegans out there. We went on a Holistic (vegan) Cruise and it was booked to capacity (over 1400) from all over the USA and even some from outside.

    First, you have to make a profit which means you have to have customers to stay, dine and enjoy your B&B. So focus on Wholesome Food that tastes and looks fantastic. The fact that is has no meat, fish, diary or eggs should be a footnote IMHO. Focus on the Health & Wellness aspects of the food you provide and consider adding massage, acupuncture or other services from local practitioners (add to your class structure if you have those).

    Depending on capacity, you might consider offering vegan holistic retreat weekends for folks. If you search there are almost no place to go for those eating a plant based nutritional lifestyle. The cruise we took (this was the 10th anniversary for the group) is unique but gaining every year!

    I just posted about our upcoming trip across the USA from Florida to Seattle/Vancouver. We are very concerned about how we will survive and plan to take a cooler we can plug into the car to take basic necessities. I hope to get some travel hints from folks here.

    I hope you have a successful venture. My wife is a gourmet vegan chef and has over 6000 vegan recopies collected on her Pinterest site: pinterest.com/gramstein/ which may help.

    Keep us all posted. We are heading West this trip but next year, we do plan to go up the East Coast! Be nice to have a place to stay!

    Cheers,
    Skip Stein
    Whole Foods 4 Healthy Living
    Orlando, FL

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by seanubs at 06/02/13 08:13:49

    Why not? You are feeling guilty because other people are telling you you can't do it, when really the only motivation should be yourself.

    Having a vegan B&B is not 'alienating' because there are always non-vegans that want to eat healthier and want to aim toward a better lifestyle even how ignorant they may be. Take into account your experiences and you can share them with others, even how they may take it, you are the only one who can be happy and confident. Don't let others choose the way you live and don't think there is no such thing as a limit, because you can do whatever you want whenever you want to there is no limit to your goals and success. As long as you are happy doing it, you will thrive.

    Apologize for terrible grammar, I'm unemployed and have no money for food so I'm sort of hungry and wake up everyday feeling hungry because I don't eat breakfast so I can't think properly sometimes.

  • DC1346's avatar
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    Posted by DC1346 at 06/06/13 10:51:06

    Thank you all for your replies. I'm hoping I can stay in Arizona but the teaching market has taken a beating due to budget cuts. Things have gotten so bad that many districts will only credit new hires with 3-5 years of teaching experience. I have 23 years of experience, any job I take (assuming I can even find a job) will drastically underpay me.

    I'm giving serious thought to putting my house in AZ on the market and staying put until it sells. My current home has a 5,000 gallon pond filled with live plants and fresh water fish including koi that are as long as my arm from shoulder to extended finger tips.

    I'm afraid of leaving and having the fish die of neglect ... or leaving and having the pumps to the 3 waterfalls die because their intake valves were clogged with algae.

    Regarding the inn, I've given some thought to perhaps opening it as a vegetarian inn which would at least allow me to prepare eggs. I would draw the line at meat. I would also use soy milk instead of dairy milk.

    I will have to think about this some more.

    I agree with SkipStein that at the end of the day, the B&B is a business. If I were to reopen the inn, I would have to generate $1425 a month to break even on operating costs. Given the occupancy rate I had back in 2005, I would have to charge a minimum of $60 for my smaller rooms and $80 for my larger rooms.

    I like the idea about massage and acupuncture. I'd have to check and see if the local spa is still open.

    seanubs - as an unemployed teacher, I feel your grief. I truly hope that you aren't going to bed hungry. If you live in the states, have you thought about applying for unemployment compensation? If nothing else, your local community may have a food bank. Most food banks allow visits once per month. I used to volunteer at a food bank in my community. We had an organic vegetable garden with additional produce donated by Safeway and Wal-Mart.

    Since produce seemed under appreciated by the clients who invariably wanted eggs, milk, meat, and canned food, we allowed people to take as much produce as they wanted.

    If you're desperate for work, try applying for a job in the food service industry as a server. If you're personable and out-going, you could make some decent money in tips. I used to be a manager for Bob Evans and there were servers at this casual dining restaurant who made more in tips than I did in salary.

    Motels also have a relatively high rate of turnover for desk clerks, especially among the night shift.

    I don't know what your education background is or what your job skills are ... but if you need a job just to put food on the table, there are jobs out there.

    Another possibility for employment? School bus driver. Many districts have problems with finding drivers and some of these districts will train you so that you can apply for the appropriate license.

    Although I have a Master's degree in education and am a trained chef, I have worked as a dishwasher just to help make ends meet. I've also driven a school bus.

    I wish you well.

  • DC1346's avatar
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    Posted by DC1346 at 06/06/13 11:12:46

    SkipStein,

    A month ago, I took a drive up to Colorado for a job interview. This was an eye opening experience for me. A vegan author from another site told me that most casual dining restaurants have something a vegan can eat ... but I didn't find that to be true. Denny's for example, is a popular chain, and although they're friendly enough for lacto-ovo vegetarians, they're not so friendly for vegans.

    Fortunately I anticipated this and I packed an electric pot in my car along with some vegan friendly foods.

    I took along dried vegan bouillon, dried tofu, and dried veggies. I also took canned beans and tomatoes, and a small selection of herbs and spices.

    If I couldn't find anything to eat, I snacked on homemade granola bars, dried fruit, and nuts. For dinner I'd make a thick vegan stew that I'd enjoy with crackers.

    Since many motels these days seem to have microwaves, I packed cans of vegan refried beans and soy cheese with tortillas in an ice chest. I enjoyed the stew with bean burritos.

    Other ideas?

    Take whole wheat noodles and vegan marinara sauce. Make yourself spaghetti. You can stop at a local supermarket to pick up a salad. If you buy some vegan ground meat, you could add protein to your sauce and make a Bolognese.

    Take kidney beans, tomato sauce, sun dried tomatoes, vegan beef bouillon, garlic powder, and chili powder. Make yourself some chili.

    Take some packages of vegan friendly Ramen noodles. Stop at a supermarket and pick up some variety packs of fresh vegetables to add to the noodles. You may also use dried vegetables.

    I LOVE oatmeal. Take along some dried oats, coconut milk powder, and sucrose. Stir in some water and use a dinner fork to whisk in the coconut milk powder and sucrose. Cook the oatmeal in the electric pot.

    Finding a supermarket isn't hard if you have a smart phone. You can use a search engine like google to find a supermarket and then use mapquest to get driving directions.

    Have a safe trip!

    David

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by kalangford01 at 06/08/13 16:19:43

    I applaud you for the idea. We owned a B&B in Prescott, AZ for 10 years. People will be fickle no matter what you do. They will love you for your quilts, your shampoo, your flower arrangement, your china or the wine you serve...you never know. They might just like the rockers on your porch. It's not always only about the food. Vegans and vegetarians will search you out, so that's a good thing. Others, who don't get it, will still ask the same dumb questions about the food over and over. My advice is to just be prepared to answer graciously with a smile every time...no, veganism is not a religion, yes, there is enough protein in a vegan diet, no I don't have any real bacon. Best of luck to you!

  • DC1346's avatar
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    Posted by DC1346 at 06/12/13 21:00:11

    Speaking of dumb things ...

    A businessman who had the late night munchies bought a quart of ice cream from the convenience store across the street. On the following morning, he informed me that the guest refrigerator was broken because his ice cream had melted. Hello ... ice cream is a frozen product and refrigerators only refrigerate ... (sigh)

    A woman called and asked me for my rates. After hearing the rates, she asked me how much it would cost for just an hour. Instead of telling her that I didn't approve of trysts because my inn was a family establishment, I pointed out that sheets used for an hours still have to be cleaned. (Double sigh)

    A woman wanted to rent room 2 because it had an old fashioned claw footed tub. Her husband insisted on renting the cheaper adjacent room. The woman decided to take a bath in room 2 and while she was taking her bath, a guest checked into this room. You can imagine the awkward scene ... naked woman in a bathtub with a terrycloth towel clutched around her ... the business man standing in the bathroom doorway ... the woman's husband coming in response to her screams.

    Oh ... and there was the angry guest who pounded on the door to my suite to loudly complain and berate me for having stupidly given him the wrong key to his room. I followed him to his room and watched him struggle to open it. You should have seen the look on his face when I turned the key right side up and unlocked the door.

    (sigh)

    I don't miss being an innkeeper. Truly I don't.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by zorgster at 09/06/13 13:34:42

    Hi...
    You can make scrambled eggs with steamed->mashed cauliflower, sweetcorn mashed into oat milk, AND tofu crumbled up... spiced up with paprika and tumeric...

    If you want a good excuse then make it a vegan BnB for the sake of the climate, to stand against the massive overuse of antibiotics in industrialised animals which threatens bacterial resistance.. because you do not agree with herd towns of 5000 animals in one superfarm which often poisons the underground water table, or pigs genetically manipulated so that they do not feel pain (yes that's coming too) etc... make your own posters explaining why certain choices have been made... (but make them subtle... and really simple to understand without being preachy etc..)

    If you do it.. then you do it because it feels right... and never apologise for it. :-)

    good luck...

  • DC1346's avatar
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    Posted by DC1346 at 09/09/13 11:56:29

    Thank you all for your replies.

    I've decided not to reopen the inn but instead have taking a Culinary Arts teaching position with the Clark County Schools in Las Vegas.

    The movers come on the 17th and I report to Human Resources on the 19th for in-processing as a new employee.

    Although there are advantages to being self-employed, the salary and benefits offered by Clark County were just too good to pass up. Insofar as I'll be making 2.5 times MORE than what I earned in Arizona AND will have 2 months of an annual fully paid summer vacation, I didn't feel that I could pass up on this employment opportunity.

    By extreme coincidence, after a dearth of buyers since the inn has been on the market since 2007, I now have three prospective purchasers for this property.


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