I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Kristin Lajeunesse of “Will Travel For VEGAN Food” fame. I know most of us have had ideas and dreams that we let fall to the wayside because they seem impossible or too hard. Kristin had this crazy idea to travel across the United States eating at every vegan restaurant and made it happen…is still making it happen.
I am so impressed by Kristin’s ability to turn her dream into reality.
Chic Vegan – For those who are not familiar, please explain what “Will Travel For VEGAN Food” is.
KL - Will Travel For Vegan Food is a passion project, turned life-changing adventure, nomadic-style, vegan activist mission to visit all 50 states while attempting to eat at every 100% vegan restaurant in the country.
CV -Please update us on the roadtrip and what you have planned.
KL - I’ve been on the road for about 14 months and have visited 46 states so far. I’m currently in southern California, working my way up the west coast. I’m planning to finish up California then visit Oregon and Washington before driving back east to plan the end-of-trip festivities, to be held in NYC this summer.
CV - You and I met recently over lunch during the Orange County leg of your roadtrip (click HERE to read the post) and we discussed the path that led to you and your family becoming vegan. Would you mind sharing the story?
KL - I was 16 years old when my parents told me that they wanted to become vegetarian as a family. My brother, Josh is five years older than me and he introduced the idea of vegetarianism to my parents. When they found out that he had already become vegetarian they were immediately worried about his health, as they thought—at that time—that eating meat was necessary for optimal nutrition. But instead of telling him why he was wrong or shunning him entirely, they did what awesome parents do: they researched the heck out of vegetarianism. I think they were looking for a way to prove to him why this diet was bad, but instead they came to the undeniable conclusion that not eating meat is a much better way to live.
So, there we were in 1999 transitioning to vegetarianism as a family. I wasn’t particularly thrilled, but decided to give it a go. I went off to college and my parents kept up their research, joined a local vegetarian group and continued to learn about the influence that diet has on health, the environment, and animals. Every time I came home for a break or holiday there was something new and “healthy” in the refrigerator—or worse, something missing. I still remember coming home one summer to no more milk or cheese. It was gone and I was devastated: not the ice cream!
By the time I finished college my parents were full-on vegan and I was still chowing down my beloved dairy ice cream and cheese pizzas. Aside from the fact that I had maintained a vegetarian diet, was eating vegan meals when visiting home, and gifted vegan-labeled sweatshirts, stickers, and buttons whenever my parents were given the opportunity, I couldn’t fathom giving up dairy.
And then, in the summer of 2006, at a veg event in upstate NY, the sea parted and in walked Registered Dietitian, George Eisman. Despite the fact that my parents had at one time or another gently provided the same information that Mr. Eisman presented on this day, once I decided to listen and truly understand how very bad dairy was for my body and for animals, I was done with it. That very night I ate my last cheese pizza and never looked back. Well, I might have looked back once, or five times, but never did go back. Today my parents help run the Albany Vegetarian Network and host an annual Vegetarian Expo (now in it’s fifth year!) in upstate New York.
CV - Walk me through a day in your life.
KL - I wake up around 8-8:30 in the morning, lounge for 10-20 minutes while checking email and social media updates on my phone. Then I check my schedule to figure out where I’ll be eating my 2-3 meals throughout the day, and if I have any scheduled meetups. I head to an Internet cafe/coffee shop to answer emails, update social media, and write for my website. Then I head to lunch or breakfast, eat, take notes, leave behind a business card, window decal, and bumper sticker for the restaurant. Then I look for another Internet cafe/coffee shop to do more work (if I don’t have a post office run to make or any other errands). I do more writing/blog editing/trip planning/etc. and then I head to lunch or dinner to eat, take notes, leave behind a business card, window decal, and bumper sticker for the restaurant. If I have complete any non-internet-related errands for the day I go back to a spot with free wifi to continue to do work until I’m too tired to keep my eyes open. Then I either go to a hosts house to borrow their couch or spare bedroom, or I seek out a safe neighborhood or even a Walmart parking lot, to park for the night. I call or text my parents so they know I’m okay, and then nestle in and might watch an episode of Girls on iTunes before falling asleep. Wake up, repeat. Oh, and every few days I find a place to shower through the lovely readers of Will Travel for Vegan Food.
CV - How many meals have you typically been eating per day? Do you have any snacks?
KL - It really depends on the location. Some cities have 0 restaurants and others have dozens. I’m currently in Los Angeles and eat between 2-3 full meals each day. I rarely snack in between unless I’m driving several hours to the next location. If I do snack, I enjoy Vega bars or fresh fruit.
KL - Yes! I’ve eaten at about 400 vegan restaurants so far and my favorite is still Vedge, in Philadelphia. I gush about it HERE.
CV - What has been the biggest obstacle you have faced during this journey?
KL - Currently, my biggest obstacle is leaving new friends behind. I meet such wonderful people along the way and sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever get to see them again.
CV - What has surprised you most about the roadtrip?
KL - How incredibly kind and generous complete strangers can be, and have been to me. And that most people truly are good people.
CV - What are your plans once the vegan roadtrip is over?
KL - I’ll be wrapping up my trip back in NYC (because I wasn’t able to finish in just one week, when I drove through the first time). I’m literally going to live in NYC while I finish the trip and plan an epic end-of-trip party to celebrate this crazy accomplishment. Then I hope to find a cozy city (yet to be determined) to settle in for about six months while I work on growing the Will Travel For Vegan Food brand through various digital products and services, while also re-focusing on another website of mine, Rose Pedals Vegan Weddings. Once I feel financially stable I intend to continue to travel, but take my journeys international, spending a few months in a new country, a few times each year. I figure, if I can keep my income mobile-based, and as long as I have an internet connection, I’m golden!
KL - I will be a published author, have a successful six-figure business, conduct speaking engagements, host annual “Will Battle For Vegan Food” fundraising invitationals across the US, and of course, will be bouncing around the globe reporting live for a major TV network that will pay me to travel and eat vegan food, while documenting it all on their channel!