More sustainable travel can mean many things, such as opting for reusable toiletries instead of wasteful, single-use plastics; making sure to book non-stop flights; or foregoing the plane altogether and taking a train instead. But if you’re looking to really shrink the climate footprint of your wanderlust, a few new options are cropping up around the world, heralding a shift in the hospitality industry toward more environmentally conscious practices.

In the picturesque Yorkshire Dales in Northern England, Beck Hall has distinguished itself not only as a haven for animal lovers with its exceptionally dog-friendly ethos but also as a trailblazer in the plant-based movement. The hotel has recently proclaimed its status as England’s first entirely vegan hotel. 

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As part of its transformation, which was publicly announced last month, Beck Hall has overhauled its menu to eliminate animal products and ensure that all room amenities, from milk to toiletries, are vegan. This decisive step is reflective of the owners’ personal journey towards plant-based living, aiming to mirror their ethical choices within their business operations.

Meanwhile, Dubai is now home to what NH Collection Dubai The Palm claims are the city’s inaugural vegan-friendly hotel rooms. In a bid to cater to the environmentally conscious traveler, the rooms feature sustainable, animal-free bedding, and a range of vegan snacks. Complementing these in-room offerings, the hotel has implemented eco-friendly systems including solar panels and an in-house water bottling plant to further reduce its environmental impact. 

This initiative aligns with the actions of the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi, as well. Earlier this year, it introduced vegan-friendly rooms equipped with leather-free furniture and other more sustainable amenities. These rooms, despite being more expensive to outfit, are offered at the same rate as the hotel’s conventional suites.

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While all of these newcomers bolster a growing list of vegan-friendly hotel options, a Northern California inn has been leading the plant-based way for more than 40 years and deserves a top spot on your bucket list. 

The Stanford Inn, a pioneer in plant-based hospitality

The Stanford Inn, nestled on the serene Mendocino Coast, has been in operation since 1980, long before the plant-based trend took off. Jeff and Joan Stanford founded the Inn with an eye on health, wellness, and sustainability. 

“We began as vegetarian, not knowing about how dairy underlies the beef industry and the massive killing and exploitation in the horrendous egg industry,” Jeff Stanford tells VegNews. “When we learned, we changed and evolved the restaurant, changing recipes and removing eggs and all dairy from the menu.” 

The Inn’s Ravens Restaurant has been delighting guests ever since with its dynamic menus for breakfast and dinner, both centered around sophisticated, plant-based cuisine. 

The restaurant creatively reimagines traditional meals, such as a vegan version of Kalua pork, using mushrooms and onions for flavor, and presents its dishes in an approachable, casual atmosphere. Cauliflower ceviche, a stacked kale salad, tamari maple glazed tofu, and decadent ravioli are menu mainstays.

A signature dish here is the Sea Palm Strudel, made with locally harvested sea palm, root vegetables with wasabi, and umi plum raspberry sauces.

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The establishment is not only known for its culinary creativity but also for its commitment to sustainability, reflected in its practices of sourcing local and organic ingredients, predominantly from regional growers and the Inn’s own Certified Organic Farm which is visible from its hotel rooms, each outfitted with a rustic fireplace. 

Ravens Restaurant extends its ecological consciousness to all aspects of its operation, including a meticulously curated wine list focusing on selections from organic, biodynamic, or sustainably farmed vineyards.

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It also ensures that all food waste is composted and reused to enrich the soil in their gardens. It diligently recycles glass, paper, and cardboard, embodying a full-circle commitment to environmental respect and sustainability. 

And maintaining high standards of vegan cuisine is no simple feat. “We have only one cook who is vegan and that cook has been with us for about two years,” Stanford says. “The rest of the team have been here far longer.” 

Yet, the reward comes in the form of guest reactions. 

“Ninety-five percent of our guests are not vegan/vegetarian,” Stanford says. “It is wonderful to hear, ‘I can’t believe that’s vegan.’”

The Inn also enriches guests’ experience through cooking and nutrition classes, along with access to its spa and wellness center, which often leaves a lasting impact on their lifestyle choices.

Hotels embrace vegan options

In addition to the UK’s Beck Hall and Dubai’s The Palm, vegan options continue to penetrate the hospitality industry, with resorts such as the Four Seasons heavily embracing plant-based menus from Beverly Hills to the Mexican Riviera and beyond. 

But throughout the years, the Stanford Inn has continuously been ahead, not by competition, but through commitment to sustainable practices. “There’s no one to stay ahead,” Stanford says. “We use and promote the use of sustainable products and with regard to what we serve in the restaurant, over 10 years ago we emphasized whole food ingredients.” 

The shift in guest preferences, Stanford explains, is leaning toward processed foods, a trend the Stanford Inn observes but does not wholly embrace.

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“These [options] are great for animals and pretty good for the planet; not as great for those adopting a primarily processed plant-based diet which emphasizes protein isolates and fats,” Stanford says. 

The Inn, while acknowledging these trends, continues to provide experiences rooted in whole-food, plant-based principles, educating its guests on the health benefits of such choices and reinforcing the message that a plant-based diet can significantly contribute to halting the climate crisis.

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