Vegan travelers and travel enthusiasts raise your hands! Today I’m super excited to share an interview with fellow vegan nomad Kristin Lajeunesse, author of the super brand spanking new book, Will Travel for Vegan Food! I’ve been following Kristin’s journeys for awhile now on Instagram and via her blog (here), as she set out on a mission to eat at and write about every single all-vegan restaurant in the United States! Having taken my own vegan US roadtrip last summer, I super enjoyed watching her journey and am pumped to read her book, lust over all the restaurants I missed and take in her wisdom along the way!
Kristin grew up in a very small town in upstate NY (hollah, fellow NYer!) moved to Boston in 2007., after which she quickly decided she was ready for a new, longer-term adventure.
In January 2011 she left a full-time job with an animal welfare organization to pursue the art of food and travel discovery.
Kristin spent eighteen consecutive travel months living out of a renovated sports van affectionately named Gerty. Almost immediately after beginning her journey, Kristin discovered a deep passion for nomadic and unconventional living, and has since chosen to maintain a mobile lifestyle, indefinitely. As of July 2014, Kristin met her goal of visiting and eating in each of the 50 states. A self-employed business and lifestyle strategist, Kristin now works with small business owners and entrepreneurs looking to turn their passions into profitable careers. Kristin is also a founding member of the Vegan Weddings HQ website (formerly Rose Pedals Vegan Weddings) and the Unabridged Addiction podcast.
It’s really great to see another female, solo-traveling, vegan minimalist out there (enough adjectives?! ;), so without further ado, I’ll leave it to Kristin…
Which came first: The trip or the book?
The trip! I’d never considered myself a writer and never truly gave deep thought to ever writing a book. I was fortunate to have been approached by a brand new publishing company out of Boston, about halfway through my trip. They asked me if I’d considered writing a book about the journey. We got to talking and before I knew it we had a signed contract!
What was one way your trip was very different from how you imagined it in your head before you left?
Hmm this is a tough one because going into the journey I had no clue what to expect and was, to be honest, quite wrapped up in a bit of a romantic hullabaloo (see the first few chapters of the book) that I hadn’t really ever determined what it would fully look like during the whole thing. Perhaps that could be it actually: Though I had originally intended to go it alone, I did rather last minute invite a friend to join; someone I ended up falling for. So, there were early moments where I pictured our vegan love story unfolding. But it didn’t take long for that to come crashing down. Once that had passed the door was wide open, and I let go of most of the expectation-drive thoughts from then on.
Who/What inspired you at the beginning of your transition to a nomadic lifestyle?
Some of the most prominent influencers were Gary Vaynerchuk (his book “Crush It!” totally jazzed me up), Tim Ferriss (The 4-Hour Workweek completely changed how I viewed my work and life ideals), Chris Guillebeau (The Art of Non-Conformity: both the book and website, made me view all my passions and the possibilities that accompanied them, in a new light), and Pat Flynn (following Pat’s career via his website and podcast, Smart Passive Income was incredibly inspiring. Today, Pat makes anywhere from $30-$80k per month in passive income).
Any surprising vegan location(s) you found, somewhere you never would have expected to find vegan food that totally blew you away?
Memphis, TN has an AMAZING restaurant called Imagine Vegan Cafe. I wasn’t expecting much but the food turned out to be fantastic. I still dream about the burger and fries I had from there. So delicious!
What was your most improvised vegan meal when there were no obviously vegan food/shops/restaurants to be found?
I was headed back East after stopping to hike in the Grand Canyon and got caught in a major snow storm in southern Colorado. Around midnight I pulled off of the highway at the nearest rest stop (after hours of painfully slow, traffic-jammed driving) and everything was closed accept for a gas station and a Walmart. I purchased a bag of tortilla chips, guacamole, and an apple from Walmart; cozied up in the blankets in the back of the van and ate dinner in front of my computer. That was a rough night. I remember having trouble sleeping because I was so cold, and having to move the van every few hours as to avoid getting snowed in by the parking lot plow.
Where do you generally prefer to work from while traveling (cafes, co-working spaces, inside your airBnB)?
Oh I *wish* I could have afforded to stay in airBnB’s!! 🙂 I lived out of (and slept primarily in) the van. So it was coffee shops and cafes all the way! They’re also where I’d brush my teeth in the morning and at night, and freshen up as well.
Any tips for planning a major (vegan) trip regarding apps, services, websites, etc. you found super helpful while on the road?
Yelp!, Happy Cow, and VegDining were all incredibly helpful in determining where the vegan food could be found. I’d also reach out to any local veg groups I could find on Facebook or on Meetup.com. And one of my favorite overnight stops/gas stations is a chain called LOVE’S. They are open 24 hours, have special parking for smaller/non-big-rig vehicles, are well lit, and have clean showers; and some decent snacky foods as well. I also used CouchSurfing.com once – to find a place to shower. It wasn’t so bad but I found that the online community that was building around the Will Travel for Vegan Food brand had become invaluable for finding the occasional warm couch, spare bedroom, or shower to wash up in.
Next travel goals?
I would *love* to take my next venture internationally – to have a TV version of the journey in other parts of the world (instead of a blog/written version). Now, I’m just crossing my fingers that Ellen or Oprah will call with the good news. 😉
Hellz yeah! I don’t know about you, but the wanderlust bug has just hit me again hard. Good thing I’m heading to the States soon for Vida Vegan Con III! I will for sure be picking up a copy of Kristin’s book to read about her journey in detail! If you’re equally inspired and/or curious, you can…
…get the book here!
Thanks Kristin for taking the time to answer my questions! 🙂