Vegan in the Alps
With veganism becoming more and more popular, it has become a big talking point this year among the team. With two vegans within our team, we wanted to find out what it was like living in a place known for its meats and cheeses when all of these are off the menu.
Mairi and Blair are the awesome management team behind Chalet Bergerie and they have both been vegan for around 8 months. This started when they were travelling; previously vegetarians, the pair chose the vegan option after seeing the effects the meat and dairy industries were having on the environment. Luckily for them, the chefs at Le Chardon are more than accommodating to various dietary requirements.
Interview with Mairi and Blair
What were your motivations behind becoming vegan?
Mairi: The main motivation for becoming vegan was the environmental impact that mass producing meat and dairy has on the planet. However, since becoming vegan I'd say there are now added motivations, such as health and financial benefits.
What was the hardest food to give up?
Mairi: The hardest food to give up was pizza, and it took me ages to get used to a proper cup of tea with plant milk. It just didn't seem right. Now I love tea with almond milk and cheeseless pizza piled with veggies.
Blair: Like Mairi I miss pizza, but also butter and pastries!
What difficulties do you come across in the Alps being vegan?
Mairi: It's next to impossible to get a decent vegan meal in a mountain restaurant, which means I always have to be prepared with something to take with me. Vegan food isn't always the easiest to eat on the go. We attempted to dip carrot sticks in hummus on the chairlift last week and got hummus everywhere! Leftovers from dinner service will always be covered in milk, butter and cream, therefore we quite often prepare something different. The French cuisine contains a lot of meats and dairy, therefore there are really limited options.
Blair: The difficulty of being vegan in the Alps is firstly the amount of pastries floating around that I can't have! There's also the limited availability to eat out on the mountain and with traditional Savoie cuisine being based on mainly meat and dairy, you can feel like you're missing out in the cultural experience.
Luckily – help is at hand! Recently at Le Chardon Mountain Lodges, we have had our first vegan guests of the season staying in Chalet Kilimanjaro - the chefs have had to get their thinking caps on and come up with some delicious meat and dairy free delicacies like:
- Caramelised pineapple with a mango sorbet and passionfruit crisp
- Roasted mediterranean vegetable and couscous stack with basil oil
- Vegan lemon drizzle cake
- Coconut milk pannacotta with a raspberry gel, raspberry sorbet, blackberries and pomegranate seeds.
- In short - a week full of vegetable infused dishes and carefully created puddings were on the menu.
When in resort it can be hard to find places to accommodate the needs of a vegan. It's fair to say there aren't a lot of vegan options on many menus either. Luckily for us in Val d'Isere, there is a vegan friendly café called Arctic Café, boasting healthy and nutritious food, with dairy and meat free options on the menu. It is the ideal spot for a bit of lunch or dinner on a chef's night off. The guys here are lovely and extremely accommodating to everyone's needs and requirements.
It might not be easy, but with the professionally trained, creative Chardon team of chefs and a bit of preparation, life as a vegan in the Alps is pretty good after all.