In just about 6 months, we'll be welcoming travelers from all around the world on A Vegan Adventure in India with vegan travel blogger, Ashley Hubbard of A Southern Gypsy. We did a little Q+A with Ashley to learn more about why she teamed up with us and why this trip is unlike most other travel experiences in India. This session was conducted by the other trip leader, Prachi who will be leading the group along with Ashley.
Thanks for chatting with us, Ashley. I wanted travelers that are going on the Vegan Adventure in India to get to know you better and learn more about the mission of the trip. So to start off, why do you use your platform to promote vegan travel?
When I started my blog almost six years ago, I was the furthest thing from being vegan. I also didn't really feel much direction in my brand for three years or so. I was just writing whatever and it showed. When I went vegan overnight two years ago, I shifted my blog completely. I, obviously, no longer wanted to write about non-vegan food or activities that exploited animals and so that's exactly what I did.
Ever since finding my "calling," I have felt nothing but a positive shift in my brand, my blog, and my writing. I will never stop speaking up for animals, the planet and other humans and I'm happy that I'm able to do that through something I love - writing and photography.
We love your slogan which incorporates "conscious travel". Can you speak more about what conscious travel means to you?
While most of my blog encompasses ethical veganism and is very much about the animals first and foremost, there are other aspects of life and the world that are important to me. Conscious travel to me means traveling the world where you're leaving as small a footprint as possible. Whether this means traveling sustainably by only eating at local restaurants, only participating in ethical animal tourism, avoiding accommodation that doesn't benefit the local economy and so on. There are many subcategories for sustainable travel and, every day, I'm learning something new.
The important thing to remember is no one is perfect and no one is all-knowing. If you find out you did something that hurts the economy, the locals or animals - figure out how to do it better next time and evolve.
You're hosting a trip to India with Escape To. What attracts you to India and wanting to bring travelers there?
I've wanted to go to India for a very long time. It's one of those destinations I've kept putting off and putting off because I wanted to do it "just right." I'm a bit of a perfectionist and it tends to mean I put a lot of things on the back burner. So it was a sign when I was connected with Prachi and this whole adventure unfolded.
I think every traveler has a dream of visiting India - I've not met a single person who has been that didn't seem to be changed by their time there.
So obviously, we're not going to the more well-known sites in India like Taj Mahal and the Golden Triangle. As a traveler, if you only have one chance to go to India, why would you pick this trip and not the more touristy activities?
Sometimes it's not about going to the most well-known sites! I just spent three weeks in Ireland recently and you want to know what places I recommend to others now? Not St Patrick's Cathedral or even Dublin in general but these castle ruins I stumbled upon randomly nestled off some tiny road or the very northernmost point of Ireland where not many people get to. Those are the moments I most remember and that left the lasting impact on me. There's a reason why tourist sites are tourists sites, sure, but taking the road less traveled can be highly rewarding and, in many cases, more rewarding.
Not only are we going to lesser visited areas in India but we're doing it less common method as well - but that is only going to make for a more unique and more in-depth experience and I know, without a doubt, that it will be a memory you'll cherish forever.
We love your vegan food guides that you've done for Europe and the United States. Will you be putting one together for India?
I will most definitely be putting together a vegan guide for India - probably several! I usually try to do one for each region or major city I visit as long as I felt like I tried enough places. I'll also probably put together a guide to eating vegan food in general in India with common phrases and so on. These are some of my favorite posts to put together and I'm really looking forward to it!
Which experience on the trip are you most excited for?
Honestly - traveling with a small group of like-minded people. I usually travel alone or with one other person but I'm so excited to share this journey with others who are interested in the same things I am.
What kind of group are you anticipating attracting on the trip?
I think we'll have a nice mixture of individuals but all fairly similar as well. I don't anticipate that everyone will be vegan but possibly vegetarian or interested in veganism. I'm anticipating a group with an interest in traveling, sustainability, the environment and animal welfare. I think it'll be an amazing group! This is all speculation though, haha!
Do you have any favorite Indian foods that you want to share vegan versions of?
Oh no! I'm about to show how terrible I am. I eat a lot of Aloo Gobi which is basically just potatoes, cauliflower and a bunch of spices but I don't have recipes to share. I'm lucky enough to have an amazing vegetarian (and 95% vegan) Indian restaurant nearby and I go there anytime I need my Indian food fix. I also really like dosas, pakora and pretty much any curry.