I was lucky enough to spend time with Kristin Lajeunesse of “Will Travel for [Vegan] Food” at this year’s Vegetarian Summerfest and learn both about her consulting business as well as her vegan travels across the U.S. As an aside, when you have a few minutes, you really should watch her new music video.
During her excellent presentation at Summerfest, she highlighted the value in asking experts and other bloggers to contribute to your own blog as a guest and this Q&A session seemed like a great way to try it out.
MV: You spent over a year driving across the U.S. stopping at every vegan restaurant along the way. As a vegan traveler myself, I am always challenged in the smaller towns and villages in finding great vegan food. Where would you say were the most surprising and remote locations you found a great vegan meal?
KL: One of the most pleasant surprises was Memphis, TN. At the time there were only two vegan establishments – one raw juice bar and a diner-style establishment set up in what used to be a dive bar, it seemed. Both places were fantastic. The juice bar provided a healthy start to my two days in Memphis and the the two meals I had from the Imagine Vegan Cafe (the diner-style eatery) were out of this world.
There’s also a great raw restaurant in Ketchum, ID. I remember this one very well because it seemed like it was in the middle of nowhere. Or at least, the drive from Missoula, MT to Ketchum was definitely a unique one (click here to read about the scary drive my mom and I had on our way to Ketchum)
MV: You mention Vedge in Philly as your “favorite” vegan restaurant (primarily because of the cheesecake), do you find yourself looking for food that mimics non-vegan foods or more innovative fare?
KL: If it was vegan I would eat it, regardless. At least, that was my mentality during the road trip. As soon as I finish eating my way through NYC (10 more to go!) I’m planning to go high raw and cleanse a bit – avoiding the meat and dairy substitutes. After nearly 2 years of all- and everything-you-can eat, my body needs a break. 🙂
MV: Which cities did you find having the most creative options in vegan dining and where did you find the service to be the most accommodating and knowledgeable?
KL: The most creative foods I found were in and around Los Angeles and Portland, OR. By far the food on the west coast is more interesting and delicious. In terms of knowledgeable, the ones that you’d probably think of are on par – like NYC, LA, and Portland (OR). Austin, TX was great too in terms of those who knew of veganism.
MV: As someone who is both vegan AND gluten-free, do you find that sometimes restaurants confuse the two? And, where along your travels did you see the widest array of gluten free and vegan options?
KL: Not being gluten-free myself I can’t say that I took too much notice to this. But in general I don’t believe many people (who are veg or not) confuse the two. Gluten intolerance is wide spread and quite well-known. I wouldn’t say that it’s associated with or that people in general believe it goes hand in hand with one another. Regarding the options – again, since I’m not gluten-free I’m sorry to say I didn’t really take note of where there were more or less gf options.
MV: Did your travels take you to Ithaca, NY? While the Finger Lakes has numerous wineries, I often feel as though there aren’t that many vegan restaurants (Strong Hearts Cafe in Syracuse comes to mind). What were the most challenging areas of the U.S. to find good food?
MV: This August (27) will mark your 7-year Veganniversary of when you first became vegan, and the 2 year mark of the start of your road trip, how are you planning to celebrate and can I get an invite to attend?
KL: In order to celebrate the end of what has become a truly life-changing journey, I’m hosting a party in Manhattan on the evening of August 22nd, from 7-10PM. All event proceeds are going to one of my favorite non-profit organizations, Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary. There will be live music and dance performances, custom cocktails, it will be catered by Chef Jay Astafa, The Vegan Zombie crew will be reporting “live” from the red carpet, and there will be a bangin’ silent auction, along with a few surprises and special announcements. Of course, you’re invited, Eric! 🙂
For more info, check out the events website, here: http://events.wtfveganfood.com/
MV: Thank you, Kristin for inspiring others to take the (vegan) road less traveled!