At 16, her family adapted to a completely vegetarian diet. Within the next few years, her parents had become fully vegan. And after college, she committed herself to the vegan transition.
Five years later, in October of 2011, Kristen Lajeunesse left home, had left her job, and committed herself to what many may have seen as quite the far-fetched task. She would live on the road, and dine at every entirely vegan restaurant in the U.S., and share her journey on her (later award-winning) website Will Travel For Vegan Food. And yes, you can see where she dined (organized by state) and get a little taste of it for yourself.
Less than three years after she began her trip, Lajeunesse had dined vegan in all 50 states. This week, she released a book chronicling the personal details of her trip, titled, Will Travel For Vegan Food: 2 Years, 48 States, 547 Restaurants, +39,000 Miles.
When did the site become ‘real’ for you? Was there a defining moment when you stopped and said, “I have really made something with this.”
- KL: The moment I purchased the domain. For me then, there was no turning back.
How did the book deal arise? Did you have any experience with writing? Were you insecure about those?
- KL: I had no writing experience before working on the book, outside of the foodie-centric blog posts from my travels. I also never considered myself a ‘real’ writer, as blogging always seemed so casual to me.
However, I had (apparently as one of my old journals would later reveal) written down—among a list of life goals—to “get published” someday. It was dated April 2011. I embarked on my trip in October 2011. In January 2013 I received a note from a Boston-area acquaintance. He said he had a business opportunity he wanted to chat about.
A few months and conversations later I had signed a contract with the soon-to-be launched Vegan Publishers via Casey and his wife, Christen. Originally we talked about working on a coffee table book. At some point that transitioned into the memoir that’s sitting on the desk next to me right now, as I write this. Eee!! 🙂
I explain it all a bit more in this book writing video journal update.
Do you hope to instill any change through your travels, your blog, and your book?
- KL: My aim for making the WTFVF project public, and ultimately for the book too, is of course to encourage others to follow their dreams, do what they love, and move toward their passion projects. The vegan aspect is just kind of built in since I live a fully vegan lifestyle.
Your About page is incredibly extensive– what questions are you most frequently asked?
- KL: I’m always asked (1) what my favorite restaurant from the trip was, and (2) how did I pay for the journey.
Did you come to realize anything about yourself while traveling? Do you think you grew as an individual, or as a member of the larger community of humanity?
- KL: Oh yes. That’s what the book is all about! 😉
The short of it though is that I am a completely different person now. Spending that much time alone with my thoughts and reflection enabled me to see where my life was and where I wanted it to go; who I was and who I really want to be. Plus, I learned that most people truly are GOOD people.
What does this book signify to you, what is the premise, and what readership are you trying to reach with it?
- KL: The book is a personal detail of parts of the journey I never thought I’d share publicly. The premise is about stepping outside of one’s comfort zone and moving toward your passions and with your intuition. I hope to reach anyone who is ready to step into the unknown and aim big.
Did you ever have doubts on your travels? Did you ever stop and ask if your journey was important, or interesting to anyone else? What kind of internal conflicts did you have?
- KL: Not really. What I learned very early on in the formal part of the WTFVF project was that I needed to be authentically me no matter who I was in the company of or where I was sharing my journey. As such, I’ve continued to (mostly) successfully move in the directions that feel the most right to me, on a gut level. Therefore, everything is always important. Being interesting to anyone else isn’t a priority. Conflicts come and go, and I learn from each of them. 🙂
Will Travel For Vegan Food was established fall of 2011, and Lejeunesse’s cross-country tour started on August 27th, 2011, five years after she officially started her vegan lifestyle. She officially ended the road trip in August 2013, and in 2014, Lejeunesse spent 5 months in Hawaii, focusing on writing a book about her journey.
Will Travel For Vegan Food: 2 Years, 48 States, 547 Restaurants, +39,000 Miles was officially released April 23, 2015. Read all about it, here.
Kaela Holmes is the managing editor of iEG. She is compelled by the sustainable and environmental benefits of a vegan diet. She was first exposed to consuming a strictly vegan diet while living in a raw foods only community in Haiti for the first part of 2014. Follow her adventures on Instagram @kaelamarieann.