I’d like to introduce Wendy Werneth from The Nomadic Vegan
What was the ‘Aaahaaa’ moment when you decided to go Vegan?
The moment that started it all was listening to the Food Revolution Summit in May 2014. I listened to quite a few interviews during the Summit, but the one that struck me the most was with Alicia Silverstone. I’d had no idea she was vegan! When the message came from one of my teenage idols it made it much more compelling. A few weeks later I came across her book The Kind Diet in a used book sale, and that really kicked things off. I still had a long transformation ahead of me, though, as I worked out how to prepare vegan meals (I’d never cooked until then!) and how to navigate the sometimes tricky social situations that arise. The impact on travel was one of the things I most feared about going vegan.
When did you embrace a compassionate Vegan lifestyle?
On 10 September 2014, I went to Greece for three weeks and decided I would try to stay vegan for the whole trip. I couldn’t believe how easy it was! I’ve been a proud vegan ever since. Soon afterwards I started my blog, The Nomadic Vegan, to show other people how fun and fulfilling vegan travel can be.
What were the reactions of family and friends when you first embraced Veganism?
Well, my Mom soon went vegan herself, so I’d say her reaction was pretty positive! Like me, she had never enjoyed cooking before, but now we exchange recipes and talk about food all the time. It’s really brought us closer together. My husband was wary at first, because he’s always been the cook in our family, and suddenly I was saying I no longer wanted to eat most of the meals that he’d been preparing for the two of us for years. So of course an unforeseen change like that took some getting used to, but his repertoire now includes a huge variety of delicious vegan meals that he enjoys eating just as much as I do.
Why did you start your business?
I believe the reason is a pretty common one among entrepreneurs: having searched for information and come up empty-handed, I decided to create the resource I was looking for myself!
What problem are you trying to solve? (Or – what’s wrong with the status quo?)
Travel is a great passion of mine and a huge part of my life. I’ve travelled to about 100 countries so far, and I don’t plan to stop anytime soon. I thought that being vegan would just make travel too difficult, which is a common misconception, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth! Being vegan has actually enhanced travel for me in many ways. It does take a bit of preparation and planning though, so I aim to give people the practical information they need to maintain a vegan lifestyle while travelling, in a way that is easy, healthy and fun.
What’s your point of differentiation over your competitors?
There are some good directories out there that list vegan-friendly restaurants in many parts of the world, but if there’s no listing for your particular destination then you’re out of luck. My aim is to provide more comprehensive information that can apply either universally or to countries as a whole, including accidentally vegan dishes that are part of the local cuisine, as well as non-vegan ingredients to look out for. This is particularly useful for people who are travelling in areas where there aren’t many vegan/vegetarian restaurants or are travelling with omnivorous travel companions who are not always keen to frequent those types of restaurants. The idea is to make it as easy as possible to eat vegan anywhere in the world.
What’s the reaction to your product/service been like?
The blog is still in its infancy and has plenty of room to grow, but already the reaction has been quite positive. I’ve really enjoyed connecting on social media with other travellers and with vegans and non-vegans alike who seem to enjoy reading my posts.
What is your most popular feature/product/service and why?
People really seem to like my Nomadic Vegan’s Guide to Greece, which is my most comprehensive post to date. I definitely plan to create many more of these country-specific guides in the future.
Tell me about your journey to get to this point, what have you done?
I knew nothing about blogging and very little about social media going in to this, so the first few months I’ve spent a lot of time getting up to speed with how all of the technology works. While I currently have a more or less settled life in Geneva, Switzerland, I still manage to fit in plenty of travel around Europe, so I’ve been busy writing blog posts about all my little weekend adventures and other longer trips. In the future, my husband and I do plan to get back out on the road on more long-term basis and are really looking forward to that.
What mistakes have you made?
Well, like I said, there’s been a huge learning curve when it comes to technology. For the first few months I really wasn’t happy with the look of the blog, aesthetically speaking, but I’m now using a different theme that, in my view, does a much better job of highlighting the content.
What have you learned, and what would you differently next time?
I’m learning what a powerful tool social media can be for connecting with like-minded people from all over the world. I had never used Twitter before, and I’ve been amazed and really encouraged by the number of followers I’ve gained in a pretty short period of time. I’ve heard that Instagram and Pinterest can also be great platforms for travel bloggers, so I do plan to give those a try too. Keeping up with social media can also get overwhelming though, so I’m taking it one step at a time!
What advice would you give to people thinking of entering this area?
I find travel blogging very rewarding and fulfilling because it’s my way of helping to create a vegan world. It is a LOT of work, though, and I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t feel it was part of my mission and purpose in life. Anyone who wants to become a travel blogger just so they can get paid to travel the world should realize the time and effort involved in building a blog audience.
What type of customers do you attract?
Interestingly, some of my most avid followers are non-vegans. I guess that’s because travel stories have universal appeal; as much as I aim to provide practical information, I also try to convey a sense of the atmosphere and soul of the places I visit. I welcome all visitors to the site, regardless of what they eat or where they like to travel. Armchair travellers are welcome too!
What features/expansion are you planning in the next 12 months?
I have so many plans brewing for The Nomadic Vegan, so it will be really exciting to see how many new things I can role out in the next 12 months. As I mentioned, I plan to write more country-specific vegan travel guides and also give more general travel tips that are useful for travel anywhere in the world. And, since I can’t be everywhere at once, I would love to publish guest posts written by vegans living and travelling in different places around the world. Eventually I hope to cover every country in the world!
How did you get started online and what technical challenges did you have to overcome?
Since I really had no clue what I was doing, I just Googled for advice on how to start a blog. WordPress seemed to come highly recommended, so that’s what I went with, and I’m happy with it so far. I ran into a few stumbling blocks when setting things up, and everything still seems to take much longer than it should, but I at least understand the basics now and am getting quicker as I pick up little shortcuts here and there.
What did you want to be when you grow up?
Well, that changed quite a few times as I was growing up. According to an old newspaper clipping hanging up in my parents’ house, at some point in high school I wanted to be an industrial engineer. Don’t ask me where that came from! I’ve loved foreign languages ever since I took my first Spanish class in 10th grade, so it was fitting that I later went on to start a career as a translator.
What do you do for fun?
Travel, of course! Apart from that, I love the outdoors, so in the winter you can find me on the ski slopes or at the ice-skating rink. In the summer I try to squeeze in as much hiking as I can, and when that’s not possible my husband and I enjoy lazy picnics on the shores of Lake Geneva. I also love reading, whether in English or another language. Oh, and since I became vegan I’ve really started to enjoy cooking and baking! This was a huge shift for me, as I grew up on microwave dinners and cans of Chef Boyardee, so I had no patience for cooking.
How do you spread your message about veganism?
Primarily through my blog and social media accounts, but I also take any opportunity that arises to share information with friends, family and colleagues. I love cooking and baking delicious vegan food for other people, which I try to do at least once a month. Wearing t-shirts and other clothing and accessories can also be a great way to spread the message, provided that the slogans are written in a spirit of compassion and positivity. I have a Joyful Vegan t-shirt from Colleen Patrick-Goudrea and a No Meat Athlete shirt that I wear when I’m running.
How do you think the Internet and Social Media has impacted on the Vegan World?
The Internet and social media are incredibly powerful tools for connecting people and spreading messages, including messages about veganism. It’s very important for new vegans to find support through a community of other vegans, and for some people the Internet is their only option. As for me, I first heard about veganism through an online summit, which led me to do further online research. At that point I had never met a vegan in real life before, so it’s unlikely I would have ever become vegan without the Internet. I’m so very grateful to have all this information right at my fingertips, and now I’m doing my part to add to that information so that it will be even easier for people to switch to and maintain a vegan lifestyle no matter where they are.
Do you follow business influencers online (e.g. Blogs, Podcasts, etc) and if so who?
The Vegetarian Food for Thought Podcast by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau has taught me so much and was a powerful influence during my transition to a vegan lifestyle. Victoria Moran also conducts some great interviews on her podcast, Main Street Vegan, and right now I often listen to Matt Frazier of No Meat Athlete as I train for my first trail race – the Aletsch Half Marathon in the Jungfrau region of Switzerland. The blogs I visit are mostly recipe blogs (Chocolate Covered Katie and The Oatmeal Artist are two of my favourites), though I also greatly admire the work of Will Tuttle, whose book The World Peace Diet has had a powerful influence on me.
What question should I have asked you that I didn’t?
What’s your favourite vegan travel destination?
Answer: While vegan travel can be enjoyable anywhere, it’s certainly true that some destinations are more vegan-friendly than others. In my experience so far, Greek cuisine takes the prize for its huge variety of naturally vegan dishes. It’s interesting that veganism itself is not a widely-known concept there. However, the Greek Orthodox calendar includes more than 180 “fasting days”, when believers follow a nearly vegan diet. So even though local people probably won’t know the word “vegan”, all vegans need to do is ask for “fasting food”, which they will have no problem finding even in the most remote Greek village.
You can find out more at www.thenomadicvegan.com