The Beet Retreat started almost by accident with the “see what happens” approach of offering one of the big rooms to guests through the Air BnB website.
It just so happened that I put the ad on a week before Easter 2014 so ended up booked solid within a few days!
The first guests wanted dinner as many restaurants and eateries in the Yarra Valley were closed on Good Friday and having stated in my Air BnB profile that I was vegan and requesting no foods derived from animals be brought into the house, I was delighted that this young lawyer and his girlfriend were open to having a plant powered meal.
We all enjoyed the experience and long conversation and with their encouragement, the seed was planted. It was so fun! Like having friends over!
Most guests who come here aren’t Vegan or even Vegetarian.
Some stay because they love the look of the house and property and use it as a launch pad to explore the many wineries in the area.
Others, as a mini health retreat exploring “Veg” with their “healthy” breakfast and dinner and go home feeling relaxed and refreshed and often with a requested recipe or two tucked into their bag.
But it’s so beautiful to see openness and genuine interest in what I do here and what Veganism is about. I have been told it’s because I offer such a safe and non judgemental environment for them to ask and discuss.
That fact in itself has taught me as much as it has taught them.
I laughingly call it “Gentle Advocacy”… I guess it’s kind of true.
The joy and fun and connections I have made with some really wonderful guests and the reviews they’ve left both in the guest book and Air BnB site have been so lovely. So moving and encouraging.
I soon came to realise that this “little BnB thing” meant so much more to me than something useful to do with an inappropriately large house!
This morning, over breakfast, one of my guests asked me, as they usually do at some point during their stay, why Vegan?
My simple answer is more often than not “Because I love animals”
But the answer that came, unbidden, from my mouth today was far more revealing. We both felt it.
I told her that yes, I loved animals but far more than that, I respected their right to exist, be safe and simply be who and what they are.
Like we expect for our own species.
When I look at or think about another animal, I see not a being that I like or dislike or one that I deem as intelligent or cute so somehow more “worthy”….
I see them for who they are.
I see THEM.
As an individual.
As separate to me and my wants, needs, the life I choose to lead and how I live it…yet also connected.
Connected by way of “We are all in this together”….