Travel enthusiast, Ashley Renne is a woman that turned her love for something into a full-time career! On top of traveling the globe, Ashley is a professional photographer, a video creator, keynote speaker, and a writer who is passionate about saving the Earth while juggling everything she has on her plate with much grace! Tune into our exclusive interview with Ashley Renne as she gives insight into her brand, Travel Lushes and how she travels the world and is still able to embrace veganism at its fullest!
What gave you the confidence to share your life in the online world?
Well, I definitely wasn’t confident in the beginning, in fact, my blog wasn’t supposed to be about me at all. It was really supposed to be a generic travel blog that gave generic travel information. With time, I realized that people could get generic travel information anywhere but what they couldn’t get anywhere was my voice, my perspective on the world, my experiences that only I could tell because nobody can tell my story as I can. I was shy about sharing my life but I wasn’t shy about being in front of the camera. Since I was a little girl, I’d always loved performing so I just channeled that love of performing to help me get comfortable with sharing my life with others.
The key difference between being an online personality and performing for entertainment is that there is nothing fake about my life. What I share is very real. In order to get comfortable with divulging all of this realness with people I didn’t even know, I had to stop thinking about the people who were following my journey as strangers. Instead, I started to look at them as my Internet friends and family. I don’t look at my audience as random followers but rather people who have chosen to go on this crazy life journey with me.
What inspired you to become a vegan?
I’d always had an intense love and appreciation for animals but society has this talent for skewing people’s compassion when it comes to certain animals. If you really think about it, picking and choosing which animal would be deemed appropriate to consume is a total social construct. A social construct is an idea or notion that it appears to be natural and obvious to people who accept it but it’s not necessarily reality. For example, we are told cats and dogs are family but cows and chickens are food? Why is that?
Now, immediately I didn’t really plan to go vegan. I actually started by getting rid of red meat and dark meat. I had no plan to go vegetarian or vegan; I did it for my health at first. Then I saw a Facebook video, it was very gruesome. These baby chickens were being thrown into a grinder, I was so disgusted! After that, I decided all meat was off the table. I decided I wanted to be a pescatarian. I was a pescatarian for a year and then while I was in Peru, I was in this beautiful country where there were exotic fruits and vegetables, I thought to myself randomly, why don’t I stop eating fish? Fish have feelings too. I didn’t understand why I stopped eating furry animals but was still eating fish. While in Peru, I went vegetarian and it was not hard at all! I didn’t have a hard time giving up fish at all.
When I got back from Peru, I accidentally started following a vegan on Instagram and I didn’t really know what veganism was or why people became vegans. All it took was maybe one or two posts for me to understand the reality of what animals go through and it completely changed the way I viewed food. It made me realize that animals don’t belong to me. I realized we had this entitlement to animals and I just didn’t agree with it. I decided that I would completely give up everything eating animals, anything that comes from animals, clothing, even my car has vegan seats in it! It’s become a whole lifestyle for me. What started out as a journey just have better health led me to a place where now I’m doing it for compassion for the environment, animals, and for my health as well.
Tell us about the inspiration to create Travel Lushes.
Travel Lushes was literally born out of my love for travel. I went to Egypt to study abroad when I was in college and I fell in love with just being in a place that was so completely different than my own. It was my first time out of the country and I remember when the plane landed and I was surrounded by sand! It was a cultural awakening for me being surrounded by a different language, culture, and food that I’d never heard or tried before. It unlocked this intense passion for traveling and exploring other cultures. Years went by before I even had the idea to turn it into a career. So many people told me to turn my love for traveling into a career and one day I finally decided that I would start a travel blog. I didn’t know what a travel blog was, I never read a travel blog before in my life, it would just be me giving generic travel information and then calling it a day! When I understood was blogging was, I realized that blogging was about your own personal experiences, not other people. People wanted to hear about my experience traveling around the world. I decided to start Travel Lushes and make it about my own personal experience and me. What started out as just me talking about my travels actually evolved over time as I started to really understand what kind of traveler I was and what I was most passionate about is sustainability? I remember going to Bali one day and stepping on a beach that was covered in compete trash and it was eye-opening for me. It was the first time I really paid attention to what we were doing to the planet and how the little things we’re doing and bad habits were impacting our planet in a negative way. It inspired me to start blogging about sustainability and being a sustainable traveler. Eventually, it led me to buy an electric car and building a smart home. Now I am really living this message that I’ve been sending to people. It has inspired me to really go all the way with it. One of the things that I really love the most about being a blogger is having that ability to really affect real change. Since becoming a blogger, I’ve developed this audience that for some reason finds me interesting and wants to hear what I have to say and I think it’s our responsibility as bloggers to use that power for good. You have an audience; why not use it to really send a message for good. I’m hoping that through my blog, I can make a difference.
You’ve traveled to so many places! Is there a place that has left a special mark on you?
Nothing will ever compare to Egypt. I’ve tried to travel to so many places since then but I think nothing can really compare to that first time you leave a country and experience travel for the first time. Nothing can really compare to that feeling of pure wonder that you have when you’re in a completely different place for the very first time in your life. That feeling, I don’t think I will ever be able to experience it again, I hope one day I can but it was a very special moment for me and it was literally the start of an incredible path that I’ve gone down. I owe it all to that one trip to Egypt.
What tips for vegans while traveling?
One of the questions that I often get is how do you travel while being a vegan? It seems like such a hard thing to do especially when you consider going to certain countries where meat is kind of a staple. It’s not as hard as one may think. It just takes preparation, as long as you can prepare in advance, then you’re golden! Just do a little research on the country that you’re visiting and make sure you understand the language if it’s not the language you speak. Learn key phrases in that language so that when you’re ordering something, there are no language barriers or misunderstandings. It just takes a little preparation and a little research in advance to learn those key phrases.
Another advice I have is to download the HappyCow app, it has literally saved my life in every place that I have gone to! It will list out every vegan restaurant within miles of where you are so that you won’t go hungry. Times are changing and people’s diets have evolved so countries and different cities all over the world are making changes! It’s becoming a lot easier to be vegan and easier to travel as a vegan.
Where do you hope to see yourself and your brand in the years to come?
Once I had discovered what my purpose was and what I was truly passionate about, it really gave me a sense of who I was, what I wanted to accomplish, and the message I wanted to send out into the world. I’m really hoping that in the years to come, my brand will evolve to a level that can really affect that change and make a big impact in the area of sustainability, eco-friendly living, encouraging people to rethink the everyday lifestyle habits that they have and to take it beyond travel. I think a lot of people believe that we as individuals can’t really make a difference but imagine if everyone started making little changes in their habits, that could lead to a really big change overall. Collectively, we can all make a huge difference but it all starts with the individual. I hope that as an example for people, it will inspire people to make those changes to help make the world a little bit better than they left it. As travelers, we owe it to the world. The world is a place we like to explore and it’s a place that we like to travel to for amazing experiences, it has been so good to us so why not be good to it back? I hope that my brand will be an agent for change for the better over time.
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Featured Image by Ashley Renne | all images provided by Ashley Renne