Longtime vegan turned travel agent Donna Zeigfinger understands the challenges that accompany traveling internationally with dietary restrictions. Language barriers can make it difficult to articulate your food needs, and a number of cuisines that people tend to associate with being vegan- and vegetarian-friendly, such as many Asian cuisines, actually incorporate ingredients like fish sauce, chicken broth, or other animal-based products.
“I found traveling while vegan was difficult but not impossible, so I wanted to make traveling easier for my vegan and vegetarian clients,” says Zeigfinger.
She had been a conventional travel agent for just a year when the idea for a new kind of agency struck her. Many of her earliest clients, and her closest friends, were also strict vegans who constantly asked for her advice on vegan-friendly travel opportunities. Zeigfinger saw an opportunity to align her existing business with her personal values and her desire to support the greater vegan community, and Green Earth Travel was born.
Green Earth Travel is an entirely vegan- and vegetarian-focused travel agency, specializing in planning all aspects of international vacations with plant-based diets in mind.
Owner and operator Donna Zeigfinger sees it as her job to take the guesswork out of traveling for vegans and vegetarians, and pave the way for a worry-free vacation. Green Earth Travel plans custom, independent vegan vacations. Zeigfinger will seek out hotels in any country that are owned and operated by vegan-friendly locals. She’ll also reach out to cruise ships and tour companies to ensure that her clients’ dietary needs can be thoroughly accommodated.
For travelers wishing to explore local cuisine, “we also locate vegan restaurants and give [clients] tips on how to eat like a local without compromising their values and ethics,” she says.
Zeigfinger also partners with companies that offer vegan tours. For example, Tierno Tours’ “Vegano Italiano Tours” offers multi-day, food-focused tours of Italy for vegan travelers. When one thinks of Italy, vegan food hardly comes to mind amidst visions of pasta and pizza topped with cheese. The Vegano Italiano Tours, however, allow travelers to explore areas like Sicily or the Amalfi Coast while accompanied by acclaimed vegan chefs. Green Earth Travel will be partnering with Vegano Tours to send vegan travelers to the Caribbean and Peru in 2017.
Donna herself is an Ireland travel specialist, but she says her new favorite “is fast becoming Italian tours, as they are so vegan friendly.”
Zeigfinger has also sent clients to a vegan-friendly tour operator specializing in India, Thailand, Laos, Malaysia, and Indonesia, as well as an upscale vegan-friendly camping outfit in Alaska.
“We are vegans,” Zeigfinger emphasizes, “so we know the needs of our clients and will make every effort to ensure that they are accommodated.”