We’ve heard of people going veg, but an entire hotel group? Earlier this month, Ovolo Hotels announced that they would be going 100% vegetarian for an entire year. With locations in Hong Kong and Australia, we caught up with Ovolo’s founder Girish Jhunjhnuwala to get the deets behind this bold initiative – plus his top eco-travel tips and plant-based picks from around the world. Lettuce begin!
Girish Jhunjhnuwala, founder of the Ovolo Hotel Group (Photo: Courtesy of Ovolo)
Where did the idea for Ovolo Group to go completely vegetarian come from?
We’ve seen a huge shift towards vegetarianism over the last couple of years as people become more educated and aware of not just the health implications, but the environmental impact, of consuming meat. So, our most recent shift into full vegetarian dining embodies our philosophy of connecting with our customers’ demands.
Are you worried about losing customers due to this change, or not giving them a choice?
Yes, of course. We did and still do have fears that we may be turning some customers away. However, we have confidence that there’s been a big enough consumer shift to more plant-based dining, whether that means becoming fully vegetarian or adopting a flexitarian diet.
How else is Ovolo Group planning to promote sustainability?
We work with suppliers that deliver during the day so that veggies can go straight into the fridge, and use compostable/recyclable containers and non-plastic wraps for their deliveries. Currently, 40% of our ingredients are locally sourced and we are working towards building small farms at Ovolo hotels to be more eco-conscious and self-sustaining.
Komune (Photo: Courtesy of Ovolo)
Are you vegetarian yourself? If so, when did you start and why?
Yes, I have been vegetarian my entire life. I simply believe that there aren’t any benefits to consuming animals, and it’s a belief that is shared with my entire family as well. Plant-based ingredients are the most nourishing for the body, as well as being environmentally conscious and sustainable. To me, ethical eating doesn’t just mean treating your environment with care – it’s also about treating yourself with care by choosing the best ingredients for your body.
As an avid traveller (pre-COVID), what do you miss most about travelling?
Besides getting to see all the marvellous places around the world, the thing I miss and love most about travelling is simply getting to visit my hotels. It’s been a very challenging year as this is the longest I’ve been away from my teams in Australia, especially with our new project in Bali. I can’t wait to get back on a plane and see everyone again!
How can travellers be more eco-conscious?
Use public transport and pack light – the heavier the aircraft, the more fuel and emissions. Also, choose hotels that are making all efforts at sustainability, such as shutting off lights and air-conditioning when not in use, turning off the tap, reducing plastic, etc.
Your favourite cities to travel to, and why?
Sydney! I love to visit this melting pot of culture and art.
Your favourite plant-based or vegetarian restaurants in the world?
Arpège in Paris is definitely one of them. It’s not a fully plant-based or vegetarian restaurant, but they have some phenomenal veggie dishes. Crossroads Kitchen in LA is another great vegan restaurant.
What’s next for Ovolo?
We’re amplifying a lot of our more popular packages, as well as working on the launch of our upcoming hotels in South Yarra, Melbourne and Bali. Lots to come!
Ovolo South Yarra (Photo: Courtesy of Ovolo)
Follow Ovolo on Instagram @ovolohotels for inspiration.
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