If you're a vegetarian or vegan who has been bitten by the travel bug, then you're just the sort of person who might enjoy a veg work exchange adventure. It's a chance to partake of vegan or vegetarian accommodations while contributing to sustainable farming, caring for animals or children, learning about veg lifestyles, and staying and playing in an exotic locale for either a drastically reduced fee or "free of charge" in exchange for part-time or full-time work. Vegans and vegetarians who travel know how hard it can be to find suitable adventures without paying an arm and a leg. Here's your chance for affordable travel and exciting new experiences!
Some work exchanges offer luxury accommodations, some offer rustic yurt-style rooms, and some boast cabins or B & B style digs. Most offer complete or partial meal plans for vegetarians, vegans and/or raw vegans to sink their teeth into as part of the deal! You will have to pony up the airfare or car fare to get to your work exchange location and it's a good idea to bring some spending money too. But once you're there (depending on the contract) you can enjoy the accommodations, educational opportunities, and perks!
Speaking of perks, these adventures sometimes include free yoga classes, free sight-seeing excursions, trips to the beach, hiking, spending time with animal companions, holistic health certifications, raw food education, and more. Here's a partial list of offerings.
Vegetarian Work Exchanges:
Casa Grande Mountain Retreat, Utuado, Puerto Rico
Named "Green Inn of the Year" 4 times by the Puerto Rico Hotel and Tourism Association according to their website (http://www.hotelcasagrande.com/settings.html), this lush resort is a 107 acre tropical paradise that offers work exchanges to those with chef skills, gardening skills, and healing arts skills. Room and board is available depending on contribution, and for fewer work hours, board alone or accommodations alone are also available. This lovely resort offers yoga classes, healing arts, lush scenery, and truly green living including biodegradable toiletries, local produce, and many conservative energy practices. See their work exchange program details here: http://www.hotelcasagrande.com/exchange.html
Omega in Rhinebeck, New York
See below in "Vegan and Vegan-Friendly Work Exchanges" for a description of this wonderful opportunity for both vegetarians and vegans!
La Cite Ecologique at Ham-Nord, Quebec
Internships at La Cite Ecologique (http://citeecologique.org/internships.php) include intensive study in organic farming and green living practices. Running from the end of March through October (can be shorter), these positions exchange room and board for about 5 hours of work per day. You'll be well-versed in sustainability by the time you leave, or you might just decide to stay!
This family-friendly permanent eco-village (since 1984!) offers veg individuals and families a fabulous opportunity to live and learn together in harmony with nature. Bring your kids and enroll them in the accredited school while you enjoy communal living and green practices such as car-pooling, machinery share, communal housing and cooking, and an extensive recycling program.
Vegan and Vegan-Friendly Work Exchanges:
Omega in Rhinebeck, New York
This may be the holy grail of veg work exchanges. Great for vegans and vegetarians alike, this exchange program is super organized and offers 250 individuals per year the chance to work from April to October (or a shorter stint-see website) as part of a holistic health community that knows its stuff! Various exchange programs are offered with a variety of housing and meal options, plus an opportunity to take a slew of classes as part of the deal. All ages welcome from recent high school grads to grandparents! Work varies from administrative functions to grounds keeping and more. As a full time seasonal staff person, you even get a modest stipend on top of room and board and the opportunity to take classes in yoga, tai chi, meditation, writing, dance, communications, life skills, and more! http://eomega.org/omega/staff/seasonal-staff-experience/
Tanglewood Wellness Center in Panama
Hey raw vegans, this one's for you! This internship allows you to participate in and help supervise vegan raw food fasts in gorgeous tropical Panama. It requires a 9 week commitment in which is included a water fast and re-feeding program for your detoxification and rejuvenation. All food is raw vegan. See this link: http://www.tanglewoodwellnesscenter.com/about-tanglewood/internships/
Viva La Raw in Costa Rica
And another raw vegan adventure, this permaculture immersion experience is for you if you like the idea of working and learning in a sunny tropical paradise while sharing delicious vegan raw foods with like-minded travelers. Work in the morning and have afternoons off to enjoy yoga classes, visits to local gorgeous waterfalls, and rainforest hikes. This experience can also include some day trips to beaches and other sites.
While the Viva La Raw internship isn't completely cost free (you pay the equivalent of $10/day platform camping space rent plus optional $2/day tent rental), your 30 day minimum stay includes 3 delicious raw meals a day and raw food prep/ nutrition education. Add that to the free social events, community experience, and tropical paradise vistas, and that's a pretty good deal! See what it's all about here: http://www.vivalaraw.org/jewel-of-the-sun/internships