“The proverbial fork in the road suddenly slapped me in the face. In front of me, in the distance, my current life—once defined by a comfortable job, a comfortable apartment, and a comfortable relationship—and that of a new path filled with unknown adventure, storybook romance, and full-time travel. There was no question; with absolutely every ounce of all I was and all I had been moving toward, the choice was epically clear.” — Kristin Lajeunesse, Chapter 1, “Will Travel For Vegan Food: A Young Woman’s Solo Van-Dwelling Mission to Break Free, Find Food, & Make Love”
This bold choice Kristin made to take the road less traveled, turned into two years of van-dwelling life spent on the road in search of vegan food, figuring out life and love along the way.
Now, Kristin has turned these experiences into a memoir. “Will Travel For Vegan Food” [The Book] was officially released Thursday, April 23.
Kristin’s compassion for life, passion for adventure, and dedication to live out an authentic existence, resonate from every single page. “Will Travel For Vegan Food” is a must read for anyone with a wanderlust-filled spirit, who favors abundant experiences to material possessions.
This official book trailer captures the heart and the energy of Kristin, and her journey—a journey that spans miles beyond the food itself.
Kristin has inspired me from the beginning of my own vegan journey. While embarking upon various travel explorations, I’ve referenced her website numerous times for ideas of eateries to try. Since the launch of Vegan on the Run last year and throughout the entirety of Kristin’s book writing process, I’ve followed along with her journey even more closely.
The following Q&A with Kristin delves into the experience, the impact, the food, and the travel, that are all part of “Will Travel For Vegan Food.”
I’ve been reading quite a bit of Courtney Carver’s Be More with Less blog lately, and it’s reaffirming the decisions Andrew and I have been making to rid ourselves of all kinds of excess. A particular post titled, “Why You Should Give Away 50% of Your Stuff,” really speaks to me.
In the past month, I’ve quit a freelance project that was taking up an entire day every single week, and made a move across town in an effort to alleviate burdens, and simplify my life with Andrew. Immediately following this move, we hosted a yard sale to get rid of a solid chunk of our belongings, as step one of cutting what we own in half.
To say that the changes that have transpired in the last month are freeing is a profound understatement. We now have less physical space to take care of, less physical belongings weighing us down, less stresses in our lives, and more freedom to live.
Here is a quick look at some of the steps we’ve taken recently (and are continuing to take) to simplify. If you are finding yourself bogged down by physical belongings, or mental clutter in this current season of life, I invite you to consider any one (or all) of the following challenges.
“I wish I had the time and money to cook (and eat) good food.”
This is a statement I’ve heard uttered repeatedly, especially in response to my electing to be vegan, and my mention of how much I cook.
A couple of weeks ago, I posted the above photo on social media, along with the following note:
“It only takes twenty minutes (or less) to turn a basket of teeny taters into cheesy mash. The fact that this tater basket was only $1 at the produce stand made last night’s dinner taste ever better. Local green beans, broccoli, red pepper, sweet onion, spinach and cabbage were steamed in a pan on the stovetop and enjoyed alongside this mash + a fresh juicy tomato & DIY goddess dressing.”
I also mentioned that I only gave this meal 5-10 solid minutes of prep and stovetop attention and the rest of the time I let it cook itself while I fed the pup, let him outside, went outside with him (with window open to keep an eye on the food), straightened up some things, washed a few dishes, changed clothes…etc.
Truthfully, I’m always slightly baffled (and bummed) when I hear someone say they don’t have the time or funds to cook good, healthy food. Believe me when I say, it doesn’t take fancy ingredients, excess money, or excess time to cook up a fresh, hearty, delicious, local meal, using just a pot and a pan.
If you would have asked me a couple of weeks ago what my spring training and race plan looked like, I would have told you that it looked like training heavily, in preparation to return to Nashville for the St. Jude’s Country Music Marathon, this time to run the half marathon. I would have told you that this was exactly what I needed to do for me, for my running, for my season, for my support of the race series, and most of all, for the nostalgic, sentimental part of me that longed to return and celebrate the one year anniversary of my first ever full marathon, alongside friends I love and miss. I would have told you I was sure about all of this.
The problem with this response is that my answer was all about “me,” and not at all about “we.”
At various points of my life, I’ve felt like I was the most independent person I knew (and this very well might have been true). I’ve proved to myself I can do anything alone.
For years, I’ve strategically worn my independent spirit as a strength. Deep down, in a lot of ways, my tenacious efforts to be as independent as possible, have underneath the surface, always been a defense mechanism of sorts. They have always been tied to a resistance within my heart. A resistance toward being completely vulnerable with anyone—until Andrew.
Andrew has shown me that although I am totally capable of existing as a “me,” there’s something incredible about choosing to sacrifice a part of your own self-interest to exist as a “we,” when it is loud and clear that someone else was made for you. In the case of Andrew, it’s been loud and clear from day one, even when I wasn’t ready to hear it.
Last year while I ran the full marathon, Andrew tracked me every single step of my run—all five hours. He shipped me popsicles and an art piece in the form of a card as a congratulatory treat for after the race. He wasn’t even my boyfriend at that point, yet he was already believing in my every step.
Spring is officially coming at us this week! Consider celebrating the arrival of a fresh new season filled with green, by springing for plants—eat vegan for an entire day.
There’s still time to join the masses in making an official pledge to eat plant-based this Friday, March 20, via Meatout.org. Since 1985, this international Meatout event has helped raise awareness of the benefits of eating vegan: helping animals, achieving great health, and saving the planet. Each year, thousands upon thousands make a pledge and join in.
If you are thinking of springing for plants this season—by pledging to do so Friday, or any other day—here are some suggestions to help you eat vegan at all hours, any day you choose.
When a friend mentioned the upcoming Northeast Florida Veg Fest, set to take place in nearby Jacksonville, on Saturday March 7, I immediately marked my calendar. Since this would be our first ever Veg Fest (me + Andrew), we were both eager with anticipation as we counted down the days.
What’s Veg Fest all about? If you aren’t familiar with such festivals, Veg Fests are dedicated to local, sustainable, eco-friendly, compassionate, organic, healthy and humane organizations and businesses. In short, a dream festival for this vegan. Known for their tasty samples and vegan treats, Veg Fests are also family-friendly events, open to anyone (not just vegans).
Although in the future, I’m interested in having my own booth or participating in a cooking demo, Saturday, we were simply there to share the experience, and soak up all the veg-friendly goodness. And of course, I was representing myself, Vegan on the Run.
It’s my birthday! Well, sort of. Today Vegan on the Run turns one.
This photo was taken a year ago by my mom, just before launching VOTR.
When we approach a landmark anniversary or milestone of any kind, we tend to look back, be it to pat ourselves on the back over where we’ve come from, or to be hard on ourselves for what we haven’t accomplished by now. While looking back for a moment can be healthy in offering perspective, if we lose ourselves in the rearview, we risk stalling out. We lose our sense of motion. This is something I struggle with.
As Vegan on the Run celebrates its birthday today, I’m overriding my natural instinct to look back, and instead, stare straight ahead, not to the distant future, but to the immediate present.
Here’s me at the present (well, close enough). This photo was taken by Andrew a few weeks ago at the Farmers Market.
In my personal life, I’m constantly learning how to do life together with Andrew, in a partnership. Being a “we” is something that feels foreign at times to the both of us, considering we’re still relatively fresh off of four years of what we like to refer to as desert wandering. There are things we’re both still working out that don’t magically fix themselves when you work someone else into your equation. Instead, they rise to the surface and now that someone else can see them, must be dealt with. Vulnerability doesn’t come easily for me. But sharing the ugliest parts of myself and dealing with them, is key to breaking cycles of negative behavior, fostering better communication, and forward motion.