Introducing our ‘In Conversation’ series with AERA Co-Founder and CEO, Tina Bhojwani. We’re speaking with the movers and makers working to pave a path and shift the effects of climate change.
This month, we invited Verde Camilla Parmigiani, Founder and CEO of Vegan Set, a luxury hotel consultancy based in Italy, focused on implementing environmentally-conscious and vegan options within the hospitality sector. Find out more about her path and what is coming next, discover the projects she curated for renowned hotels and restaurants.
You’re the Founder and CEO of Vegan Set, a consulting company focusing on vegan luxury in hospitality. You started in 2016, what has led you there?
Vegan Set was born in 2016 as a blog; the first blog about Vegan Fine Dining. I was posting about hotels and restaurants that were able to offer gourmet vegan options. This is not so rare today, but at the time (even if it was only a few years ago) the situation was quite different. Four years after launching the blog, I realized that hotels needed help with this; they needed skills and expertise to offer a true vegan experience to their guests. Food, drink, lifestyle and staff awareness. All these elements must be at the top if a hotel wants its vegan or flexitarian guests to enjoy their experience like other guests. So today Vegan Set is mainly a luxury hotel consultancy. But it is still an online platform that tells stories about the best restaurants, hotels and fashion brands. Showing the world what the amazing vegan community is up to is a great way to inspire.
Have you experienced barriers along your path? Did you find hospitality as a business sector to be reluctant to change?
Well, definitely yes. Many hotels don’t see the importance of such an integration of their experiences while others think they can do it without help. This brings them a lack of truly enjoyable moments of pleasure for their vegan and flexitarian guests. In the second case, they fall into many mistakes and are not able to adequately match the expectations of their guests. But there is also a growing selection of hotels, thanks to the initiative of forward-looking professionals, who are really excited about the projects and the process of integration. They love being able to stun their clients and to be the promoters of such an important message and behavior.
You work with the most talented chefs and plant-based producers. Which of the projects that you curated you are most proud of? (We will definitely add these to our list!)
Il San Pietro di Positano on the Amalfi Coast is definitely the most exciting project that I have realized thus far. The hotel itself is a true paradise. The most genuine Italian charme and hospitality, awarded with a Michelin star and positioned with stunning views of the Positano sea. Today, it is also the most vegan friendly hotel of the area with some of the most exclusive experiences you can imagine. I am also very proud of the organization of ‘Plant Kitchen’ , an incredible vegan event with four chefs (two from Italy, one from France and one from Sweden) expressing their best talent in two dinners paired with the best vegan wines. But, for me, the best project is always the next one. So get ready to fly to Lake Garda in Italy in 2024 for something absolutely stunning (can’t reveal the details yet…).
Introducing vegan options is tremendously important, not only for inclusivity and customer satisfaction, but also to show that veganism does not mean to compromise and should not be niche (actually the opposite thinking about our planet). What are the most common mistakes you have seen in your industry when trying to embrace veganism?
This is the main concept that gravitates all around the Vegan Set. To show that being vegan doesn’t mean to live in deprivation, but that you can still enjoy the best moments. At the same time, these kinds of experiences are not exclusively for vegans. These are moments open to everybody willing to enjoy the best life with a more conscious approach. The biggest mistake is thinking that who chooses to be vegan is on a diet. Surely many vegans choose this lifestyle because of the positive effect on their health, but this doesn’t mean that what they enjoy has to be tasteless or totally lacking in ‘divertissement’.
Let’s move from hospitality to our own homes and routines. Could you share with us a few tips to live a more ethically-minded lifestyle?
Surely for me the top tip on the list is to buy groceries from your local farmer and to make sure they are organic. It’s very important to support local farmers and producers. I think the second most important thing is to always be respectful and open in our mindset. I am totally in favor of activism (since I was a child I have always been active in defending animals) but I think that what can really make a change is not to be divided as human beings. I don’t think I am a better person because of my choice of not eating animals. I don’t put myself in a different position toward others. In fact, I know I am on the exact same planet and just try my best.