I’m so very excited to have the absolute honor of chatting with Kristin Lajeunesse of Will Travel For Vegan Food (WTFVF) about her, long anticipated new book which releases TODAY, April 23rd, Will Travel for Vegan Food: A Young Woman’s Solo Van-Dwelling Mission to Break Free, Find Food, & Make Love! (Look for a link to get this fabulous book at the end of this post)!
A little background on how I’ve come to know Kristin and WTFVF…I began following Kristin via social media a few years back and I have to say: she has been a wealth of inspiration and motivation from day one! Especially through her video marketing series. “Marketing?” you say? “I don’t need marketing lessons or advice”…but let me be the first to say, those videos were an integral part of helping organize my mind and life. I took away these “little” tips and applied them to my “mom tasks” and I felt made a huge impact. A little more control in the streamlining of my schedule or just my mentality (which is a HUGE thing for me). So definitely check them out!
So, if you side-by-side the Instagram accounts for both WTFVF and Who Moved My Kale? (WMMK), you’ll see more visual differences than you probably will similarities. We appear to live somewhat contrasting lives: mine is a very toddler-centric pleasantly chaotic world that is deeply rooted in the suburbs of Northern California (as I write this post, said-toddler is highly intent on poking her little chubby finger at the mole on mommy’s arm, which apparently is quite entertaining!). Kristin’s day-to-day is slightly different! That being said, Kristin has managed to provide inspirational advice and an abundance of tips to not only manage my daily to-do’s but also nurture my long-term goals and passions. Biggest “people lesson” I’ve taken away so far – The people that enrich and empower you may not be identical to you or your situation. So never discount someone’s ability to positively impact your life by how many “same/same” checkmarks you can cross off. Aside from a passion from vegan food and making the world a better place, we don’t mirror each other. But that doesn’t stop you from being inspired by her life and being drawn in by her realness. So, if you haven’t had a chance to follow WTFVF on Facebook or Instagram, head on over and do so NOW.
I’ve had the pleasure of receiving an advance copy of the book and have also been listening to audio chapter excerpts. I’m almost finished with the entire book and am currently glued to it (momlife: I try to sneak as much reading in as possible!). But I have to point out that just having listened to a few audio chapters, this book is impactful and resonating! You know that feeling when you get into a good series on NetFlix and you can’t wait to get back to it? Dishes or laundry be damned? Yeah, it’s like that!
I can’t wait to get the interview started, so here goes!!!
Hi Kristin, thank you so much for taking time from your busy schedule to chat with me about your upcoming book release. I know that I’m very excited, for lack of more eloquent words: for this book to release globally! I am in love with it so far!!!! I’m thrilled and honored that you are able to discuss some of the book and it’s elements with me, to give folks another glimpse of what to expect.
I have to say first and foremost, listening to some of your pre-released audio chapters, I’m enthralled by your nomadic journey so far! You share some very vulnerable and stark moments. One particular excerpt (in chapter 1), you describe the onset emotional separation of you and Nate, and it really resonated with me. I think, everyone can relate to a moment where they felt, as you did, a clenching of the heart – a tightness. The way you described that moment, it brought me back to my own experiences with love and separation. And although my experiences never involved nomadic journeys, I still felt aligned – like I knew exactly what you felt. Isn’t it strange how emotional experiences can connect people on different levels and conditions of life? Was this something that ran across your mind as you were penning your journey, did you feel you saw more of a connection with people, rather than a disconnect?
Hey, Margret. Thanks for ‘having me.’ 🙂 And thank you for the kind words. I was getting choked up as you talked of relating to the journey so early on. It’s something I hadn’t thought too deeply on while writing the book: how readers would relate to the story. Of course I knew others might relate but as I worked through each chapter of the book I seemed to focus on how best to describe my feelings, for the sake of making it as clear as possible.
As a first-time writer I found the whole process incredibly therapeutic. I can’t tell you how frequently I cried while writing—particularly throughout the first half of the book—and had to take breaks to sit with my feelings before continuing on. It turns out I hadn’t overcome some emotional obstacles (some from the way, way past and others from more recent past) after all. Not until (mostly) working through them in writing. And having to force myself to make them clear and, in some cases, creating a visual representation of what had happened or how I was feeling, caused me to dig deeper than I probably ever would have otherwise.
Do you feel the content of the book, which I’m already finding to be richly expressive, will be beneficial and resonate with those who do not necessarily identify with being vegan?
I sure do hope so! I’ve always kind of seen the journey as an adventure into deeper self-awareness, connecting to myself, my life choices, and to others from a more spiritual place, and that I just so happen to be vegan.
Even though the road trip had an outward goal of sharing vegan food from around the country, it turned into SO much more. And I do believe that vegans and non-vegans alike will be able to relate to much of it.
I feel they will as well! So, traveling as much as you did, I’m pretty sure you came across some amazing new acquaintances, but was there one in particular that stood out to you? One that you cannot wait for the readers to “meet” as well?
Wow, this is a tough one because I really did meet so many incredible people; each of whom I learned a great deal from.
If I had to choose though there is someone that readers will get to meet in Chapter 11. Her name is Nicole and she lives in Michigan. Without giving too much away I will say that her presence and timing in my journey was very critical. The moment I arrived in Detroit I received a distressing call from home. The first time Nicole and I met in person I was a shaking, crying, stinky mess. Nichole’s character and support was immeasurable. Looking back, it feels as though she was purposefully placed in my pathway at that emotional time.
Wow, that’s pretty powerful. And inspiring to know that in the midst of our most vulnerable times, people or opportunities are placed in our path. ❤
I want to touch a little on the topic of minimalist life, after travel. Your book definitely sparked a joining of two separate situations that I felt paralleled. I just watched a documentary on how many people are choosing to live in “tiny” homes, which are roughly 175 square feet (or less) in size. I was very drawn to how living with “less” has actually given more to their lives. They actually feel less restricted and more liberated by living this way. I personally felt uber-inspired, as I’ve been drawn to live a more minimalistic life in the past few years. It most definitely brought me to think of you and your journey. Do you feel this experience of living in a smaller space has carried over permanently into how you structure your life/home now? Do you feel it has benefitted you in a positive way? Do you touch on this in the book as well?
Yes, absolutely! It’s funny, as the journey had come to a close and I was cleaning out the van I couldn’t get over how much stuff I had in there. Whereas, when I started the journey I couldn’t get over how little I had, and how much I had to get rid of, in order to move into the van. For the year and a half since moving out of the van I’ve continued to travel to a new location every 2-4 months or so. And this whole time I’ve been traveling with one large suitcase, one duffle-sized pack, and one messenger bag to carry everything I own.
Also, when looking to my future I have plans to live out of a tiny home myself! And to only purchase items and surround myself with things that are purposeful. Like the documentary you watched, I too feel so much lighter and freer with fewer things. I simply seek out housing that comes furnished in some capacity, and I typically own no more than 3 of something at a time (pants, shirts, dresses, etc.). This ensures that I choose more carefully what I’d like to spend my money on. Though it might seem counterintuitive, I do feel less restricted by owning fewer things.
I do briefly touch on this a little bit in the book, but more from the realization that “we all” seem to collect so much “stuff” and how silly it seems.
I agree with you quite strongly. I’ve noticed how much happier our entire family has been by making more conscious choices in the things we retain in our home. I think 5 or so more years ago I would have laughed at the idea of minimalizing, but I’m pretty sure that’s because I was pretty ignorant to the concept and how it could actually impact my life is a positive way. Long long gone are the days of envying “things”, that’s powerful stuff (no pun intended)!
Have you always felt like you were a writer…maybe one without a novel-at-the-moment…but was there something that spoke to you at times in your life that “knew” you would write a book one day?
Not even for a moment! I’ve never considered myself a writer. In fact, if it wasn’t for my accountability partner, Aurelia (who I met with weekly while writing the book—she helped me stay on track and I’d send her drafts of the chapters) I wouldn’t have had any gauge for how the book was coming along. She’s a writer by trade and has been published a number of times; she was an incredible guide to have along the writing journey.
Having said that, shortly after the road trip ended I was thumbing through an old journal I had kept life goals in. I stopped at a page that was dated April 2011. Among the list of goals I’d set for the forthcoming year was: “Get published.” Still gives me goosebumps!
Looking back I’m not even sure why I wrote it. Probably because pretty much everyone’s life goals includes writing a book. I suppose I had fallen into ‘what the majority wish to achieve’ category. Little did I know, the Universe was paying critical attention to that note. 😉
That’s awesome, I wouldn’t have thought to get an accountability partner. But it totally makes sense! I think we all feel like we need to be in control of ourselves 100% of the time to be officially “good” at something (I’m still waiting for someone to approach me and tell me to give back my “blog card”…ha ha ha, just kidding! Well, maybe not really J). But I do know that I have a hard time reaching out to others as a resource. But asking for help is a sign of strength, your example is a good reminder. Here you go giving more GOOD TIPS!!!
Do you feel that the journey of officially writing and publishing this book inspired your career path in a different direction that maybe you had not considered before?
Hmmm… that’s a good question. I suppose in a way it has. I feel like a much stronger writer now than I did before the book. I feel more confident in my written voice and have approached blog-writing in a different way than before. Perhaps this will open up more writing opportunities in the future.
In addition, by having my daily “therapy sessions” via working on the book, I feel much clearer on who I am and how I want to live my life. I can only imagine that alone will very profoundly impact my personal and career paths; perhaps on levels I do not yet know.
Something else worth noting: A few months after the road trip ended I was offered a freelance position with a non-profit. I was also afforded other work-related opportunities that I believe would not have been made possible without the attention that the project received, in some capacities. So, I guess you could say the entire journey (not exclusive to writing the book) completely changed my life on multiple levels.
As a blogger, I sometimes feel stagnant. Not because I do not have enough content –I often can’t stop the content! But I sometimes feel my motivation to take those millions of content items in my brain to the laptop is blocked somehow. But before I ask this question, I MUST reiterate that your marketing videos are just a delight and have given me a nudge up on the motivation ladder – you’re just sincerely inspiring! As you were going along on your journey, I’m sure there were many times where you had a mental note of “this needs to be written down”, like pre-writing your tidbits for your book (ones you didn’t necessarily share on the blog). How did you organize these tidbits to ultimately become the pieces of your book.
I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I did zero pre-planning for the book. I had told myself I wouldn’t work on it until the trip ended so that I didn’t become too overwhelmed with trying to do too many things at once (which I’ve long been guilty of—I’ve been working on it). Therefore, in order to recall key moments of the journey I’d turn to social media posts I’d made, blog posts I’d written, shared emails with friends and family, and most importantly, the thousands of photos I’d taken while traveling. This might sound silly but in some cases I can look at a picture of a plate of food and recall exactly where I was, when, and what happened either before during or after I ate that meal. Haha! Thank goodness for iPhones! 😉
Also, as I dove deeper in, to remember a particular situation, suddenly my memory would kick into high gear and bring up something I had forgotten.
A good example of this can be found in Chapter 6. There’s a moment where I talk about running into a mission worker who was collecting donations on behalf of an environmental organization. As I was writing that bit—which I had mostly forgotten about until mentally recalling the day I spent walking around Philly—another memory came to me of a homeless pregnant woman, and my interaction with her. Of course, there was no documentation of either of these interactions, so the fact that my brain just “turned on” to remind me of them, was quite incredible. That happened a lot while I was writing.
You have so much to share! And I’m thankful for that, no matter how “unorganized” the thoughts and memories pop out, LOL! I think we can ALL relate to issues with organization, although I think I consider you far more organized and “with plan” than me! I’m learning!!!
If there is one thing you’d like people to “walk away” with the most by reading this book, what do you feel that would be?
That most people are GOOD people.
And I couldn’t agree more!
Thank you again for taking time to chat. I have to say that I am grateful to have you as a valuable resource. Even in my late 30’s I may not always have everything figured out, but thanks partly to you, I do have a more solid foundation and the tools to get where I know I’ll be. This book ties in your experiences and life lessons that we can all relate to. It empowers you to look for that inspiration within yourself. Thank you so much for all that you do ❤
Okay folks, this marvelous book is officially out in the world as of!! If you enjoy REAL life stories about adventure, following your dreams, travel, and inspiration definitely get your hands on a copy!! I’ve attached a handy-dandy link below for quick access!! I know I’ll be buying another copy for my library and to lend out to friends!!
Will Travel for Vegan Food: A Young Woman’s Solo Van-Dwelling Mission to Break Free, Find Food, & Make Love. Click below to purchase!