Groundbreaking Workshop on Vegan-Friendly Hospitality

In a significant move to address climate change and promote sustainable practices, a two-day workshop titled “Plant-Based Friendly Hospitality” kicked off yesterday in Bhutan. This initiative is set to revolutionize kitchens across the nation by encouraging the adoption of vegan-friendly practices among various agencies.

The workshop has garnered participation from key institutions, including the New Learning Development (NLD) Institute, the Royal Institute of Tourism, ZheyGo and its partners, and the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Bhutan (HRAB).

Aprajita Ashish, the Regional Liaison (Asia) of the Save Movement and Plant-Based Treaty Campaign, emphasized the course’s aim to transition towards a plant-based food system, highlighting its dual benefits for both animals and the climate. Ashish noted Bhutan as an ideal location for this initiative, given the country’s cultural values and deep-rooted compassion for animals. She pointed out that veganism, which seeks to minimize harm, is well-aligned with Bhutanese societal principles.

The workshop’s inception saw Tshetem Norbu, founder of Sacred Himalaya Travel and local partner of Vegan Travel Asia and Veg Voyages Foundation, hosting a dinner for the HRAB and other agencies. The concept of veganism sparked considerable interest among the attendees.

An HRAB representative mentioned that while many Bhutanese restaurants and hotels already offer vegan-friendly menus, the goal is to have the majority adopt vegan options. The representative addressed a common misconception that veganism is expensive, clarifying that a vegan diet could actually reduce costs by replacing costly meat with more affordable plant-based alternatives, such as locally available fruits and vegetables.

Yusi, co-founder of Vegan Travel Asia and Veg Voyages Foundation, highlighted the importance of food in travel decisions. She noted that the lack of readily available vegan menus could detract from tourists’ experiences, underscoring the need for more vegan-friendly options.

During the workshop, NLD trainer Sonam Ohm shared insights on the distinction between vegan and plant-based foods. She explained that plant-based foods are meat alternatives derived from plants, while veganism involves abstaining from all animal products, including meat, dairy, and honey.

Another NLD trainer, Ugyen Bidha, discussed how the workshop taught participants to create local dishes, such as Ema Datshi, using plant-based substitutes like cashew nuts. Bidha highlighted the workshop’s role in promoting veganism and its health benefits, as well as its positive impact on the environment and animal welfare. She also mentioned that producing vegan menus locally reduces reliance on imports, fostering self-sufficiency.

Participants will receive certificates upon completing the workshop, marking their commitment to fostering a vegan-friendly environment in Bhutan.

Aprajita Ashish noted the rapid growth of the plant-based industry, with the market expanding by 15 percent annually and projected to reach USD 168 billion by 2030.

The workshop was supported by the Department of Tourism and Thrive Philanthropy, and organized in collaboration with Veg Voyages, Animal Climate and Health Save Foundation, Plant Based Treaty Campaign, Vegan Travel Asia, and the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Bhutan. This collaborative effort aims to make Bhutan a pioneer in sustainable, plant-based hospitality, setting an example for the region and the world.

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