Interview: Vegan Kristin Lajeunesse Will Travel For Vegan Food

KL_red_headshot_smMost of the interviews at Weird! Why Aren’t You Vegan? are with people who are unique and different (read: not vegan). This has the normal people (read: vegans) feeling a little left out. So, to appease the masses, we now – once in a while – feature a regular old, nothin’ special, run-of-the-mill vegan. Today, we meet Kristin Lajeunesse of Will Travel For Vegan Food.

Kristin quit her job and lived in a van so she could travel around the country with the goal of eating at every vegan restaurant. She documented her journey, and has now written a book about it! I have – of course – heard of Kristin’s venture, but what brought us together for this interview was a mutual friend I know from the St. Louis improv community. It’s a small world, or at least country – and Kristin has eaten vegan food in a lot of it!

Meet Kristin Lajeunesse.

Tell us about yourself. Not now though; I mean what you were like when you were 13. Yes, I’m serious.
When I was 13 years old I was head over heels in love with horses. Everything about them. I begged and begged my parents for a horse from my earliest memories, and when I was 8 or 9 they caved. From then on I grew from an extremely shy and introverted gal, with long mousy brown, straight-as-a-board hair to a somewhat less shy pre-teen who found her purpose and true love. Though it’s on the opposite end of where I am now in life—I shone my brightest when I was decked out in my show riding clothes; I’m getting teary eyed just thinking about it. Horses were my life and would continue to be on through college where I went on to major in equestrian studies (long before my vegan days). I was also on the cheer leading squad in middle school. I joined because I wanted to learn the choreographed dances. Our squad was always small, with 8-12 girls. I wasn’t much for the competitions or for being a flyer, but I LOVED to dance.

What is the least natural hair color you’ve ever had?
Dark, dark, dark deep auburn/red.

What is the most exciting thing you’ve ever done in front of an audience?
Whenever I dance with my ballroom instructor during one of our showcase performances. It’s how I fill that ‘showmanship’ aspect I loved about the horse world that I no longer partake in. The last one was just a couple of weeks ago in Chicago. My dance studio, Arthur Murray, held a showcase event so students could share their progress with all of the Chicago-area dance studios. You can actually watch it at the end of this vlog (min. 5:57).

Do you do your own laundry? If so, describe your process and tell us what your biggest laundry mistake has been.
I do. I usually wash once every 2 weeks. I own very few pieces of clothing and often re-wear things like pants and shirts (if they don’t stink) to save on when I have to do laundry. Since I’m usually in a new city every week it can be challenging to find time and place to wash my clothes. But I will start the washer, add detergent, put all colors and types of clothing in together. I’ll either hang dry or put them in a drying machine if there is one. I work while I wait for them to be done. Most often I’m in a friend’s or acquaintance’s home when doing laundry, rarely at a laundromat. I carry a small bottle of Seventh Generation liquid detergent with me. When I was living in Hawaii last summer I came to *love* line drying my clothes. I found hanging them up was kind of meditative. So I prefer that method now, if time allows. No laundry mistakes that I can recall.

Do you share your home with any other animals, human or not? Tell us a funny story about them.
I do not have a “home” per say. That is to say, I don’t have a home-base or pay rent anywhere since I travel so much/live nomadically. But when I visit my family they have 3 cats and 1 dog. All adopted. There’s this one creamsicle colored kitty named Fennec (because he has a big fluffy tail like a fennec fox). I adopted him back in 2005 shortly after graduating from college. He came to live with me in Plymouth, MA, at my first real apartment and job. I was incredibly lonely and depressed at the time. My fondest memories are coming home to him – he knew when I’d arrive home and be crying at the door waiting for me to open it. He’d look up at me with his toothless grin, begging for pets and foods. Once I moved to Boston for grad school in 2007, he went to live with my parents and has lived with them ever since. But whenever I go to my parent’s to visit he always seems so happy to see me. We snuggle every morning.

Some readers have indicated they’d like to know about your veganism. That seems weird to me, since being vegan is the norm and not very interesting, but here goes nothing.

When did you become vegan and what motivated you to do so (aside from the fact that being vegan is pretty much a given nowadays, and that there are a hundred reasons that support the decision and none against it)?
The full story is in Chapter 1 of my book. The shorter version is here, on my site. 🙂

What is your favorite meal? It can be real or made up.
Summer rolls. Those rice paper wrapped dealies with peanut sauce.

What food item do you eat most often?
Mocha lattes (with almond milk).

Do you just eat vegan food (aka, the bare minimum) or do you also speak out against cruelty? If so, what do you do? If not, what is your problem?
Oh my, what an aggressive question! Well, I have this project called Will Travel for Vegan Food. Across my associated social media platforms I demonstrate how easy it is to eat while traveling, to dine out, and where to find food. In addition, I do freelance work for Farm Animal Rights Movement (FARM) as I can’t imagine working *outside* of the vegan community. My personal and professional lives are deeply immersed in veganism. I feel that showing by example has been my strongest form (and most comfortable for me) of activism. Often times I post to social about other aspects of veganism (not just food) and am frequently having discussion via email, via YouTube, and/or other social platforms about the animal rights and environmental aspects of veganism.

I’d like to add that I believe there is something to be said for all forms of activism. Even if someone perhaps doesn’t resonate with some of the more outspoken ways to spread the message, that’s okay. Doesn’t mean they have a problem. Some people are more drawn to PETA while others to softer-spoken orgs, or individuals who talk primarily about food. There is importance in all regards to how we share our love and passion for animals, human healthy, and the environment.

What is the easiest thing about being vegan?

Out of the one and only reason it’s hard to be vegan (the people around you, of course), who is the worst offender and why? Don’t name names, unless you’re prepared to represent both of us in The Court of Vegan Law.
There are some relatives I will, of course, not name. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in now having met hundreds of vegans from around the country, it’s this: no two stories are the same, everyone gets there on their own time. We are, after all, doing the best we can with what we have from where we are. And though it may be frustrating at times, we cannot change those who are unwilling. That’s their “thing,” so you keep doing yours.

Song: “Will Travel For Vegan Food” By Jonathan Mann
Recipe: Sambazon Acai Bowl

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