The Vegan Roadie – Interview

TheVeganRoadieAnother interview has made its way to Another Hungry Vegan! This time, I got to learn more about Dustin Harder, AKA the Vegan Roadie who recently traveled through Denver for an episode of his webseries. Dustin is a well-seasoned traveler (no pun intended), and he made it his mission to show how easy and fun it is to eat vegan around different parts of the United States. Read on to find out how his love for travel and living a compassionate life work in harmony to encourage others to go on their own vegan food journey. Continue reading

1. What made you decide to start the Vegan Roadie?
I have been traveling on and off for work for the last 10 years. My partner watches a lot of HGTV and The Food Network. When it was on in the background, I started getting very frustrated and equally disgusted at the show “Diner’s, Drive-In’s and Dives”. The fact that so much money and effort goes into showcasing food that has a detrimental effect on America was mind blowing to me. Beyond that, I was discouraged when I traveled, often when I typed “vegan” into yelp a steak house or something of that nature would come up, random things like that. During my time in the Chef’s Training Program at The Natural Gourmet Institute in NYC I had a light bulb moment and made a commitment to myself, when I went out on the road next I would create a road map across America for the Vegan and Veg-Curious, and that was how The Vegan Roadie was born. I’m committed to making this resource, vegans and non vegans need to know what wonderful things are being created without animal products or by-products and where to get them. 

2. What has helped you to stay vegan over the years? 
It used to be weight and health. As time has progressed and as any good vegan does, you do your research. I have learned about our food system and like anyone who has a heart, I’m truly disappointed and saddened. Those feelings shifted into fuel to make the right choices for myself and the environment to be the best me I can be, and that means being vegan. Immersing myself in the cooking aspect has also been very helpful, and fun! It’s a different world full of so many new and exciting possibilities, that keeps me going. 
artichoke3. What’s your best advice for vegans who are afraid to travel? 

Prepare and get excited! Now more than ever there is a stimulating and very abundant vegan scene on the Horizon with Chef’s coming out of the woodwork to show the world how innovative, delicious and down right mind blowing plant based cuisine can be. Take advantage of your resources, google stuff like a mad man (or woman) before you go somewhere and get excited about their menu’s! If you find yourself lacking vegan options, be sure to get a hotel with a fridge and stock some staple items you know will keep you satiated. Did I mention prepare? You know you are vegan, the rest of the world doesn’t, you can’t blame anyone but yourself if you find yourself hungry.

4. What has been the most memorable experience while filming for the Vegan Roadie?
I did a demonstration in OshKosh, WI for an audience of all carnivore’s. I made a pasta with a cashew garlic cream sauce from Chloe Coscarelli’s “Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen” cookbook, instead of mushrooms I used Field Roast brand artisan grain meat. A woman came up to me after and said her daughter had become vegan and she wanted to support her, she felt after my demonstration she could go home and make something her entire family would love, including her “meat and potatoes husband”, and she could support her daughters choice. It’s memorable to me because I was in Wisconsin, this was a tough crowd. This woman said she felt discouraged and now saw that it can be easy. That meant a lot to me, made me feel I was doing something right! That kind of stuff keeps you going on a journey like this.

VR_45. Who are some people who’ve inspired your journey to become vegan?
My initial inspiration came from reading “Skinny Bastard” by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin. I strongly recommend that book to anyone curious about a vegan diet and what it offers. As for a specific person, I worked in the test kitchen of Chloe Coscarelli and her spirit and positive attitude forever is ingrained in me, she sees the positive light in everything and sort of spreads that energy around, it’s lovely. Chef’s Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby of VEDGE and V Street in Philadelphia are a huge inspiration in that every place I visited when in Philly had the most amazing things to say about them and their contribution to their community. It was unanimous among the Philly Vegan Business owners that their business was better because Kate and Rich, both established in their own right, took the time to stop in and work with people on their menu and offer insight when it was sought out, that’s amazing, they are very busy people! Robbie Tucker and Lauren Loomis of Lulu’s Local Eatery (St. Louis, MO) stick out in my mind for their commitment to grow as much as they can on their own for their restaurant and cut down on waste, and they are just a stellar couple on the crusade to better the world through compassionate eating and living. I think I have to stop the list now because I could really go on and on, I have met so many fantastic, uplifting and inspiring people in the last 10 months alone. These are just a few of the people that have inspired me to become and stay vegan.

6. What inspires you to travel?
I have always enjoyed traveling. Early in life I knew I wanted to tour as an actor, I did that. Now I want to tour to help educate those curious about a plant powered lifestyle and create a resource for vegans across the country to travel with ease. I also want to entertain and engage, not preach, about how inventive and fun plant powered food is! What better way to do that than travel the country and meet some of the master minds behind it all?

7. Favorite place you’ve visited so far?
Austin, TX. It is a Vegan’s playground! Denver was also awesome, the whole vibe had me and my partner considering our next move for our home base.

IMG_5783(1)8. What has this journey taught you about being vegan in the United States?
That it’s easier than one would think, most of the time. That the vegan community, for the most part, is very nurturing and supportive of each other’s efforts to mainstream veganism. And also, as I said before, to be prepared. While I have stumbled across so many vegan gems, there have been a few cities that are rough but if you are prepared you can make it work. Also, talk to business owners, often if you suggest a way to make something vegan an owner will more than likely take that into consideration and offer it to the general public as that is simply good business. I met an amazing woman in Jacksonville, FL who has single handedly changed her communities standards by simply going into establishments and using her natural southern charm to educate owners and chef’s of what their options are to create vegan choices for their patrons. You can check her out on Facebook at “JAX Vegan Love”

9. What is a go-to, favorite meal of yours to prepare? 
The previously mentioned pasta with garlic sauce from Chloe Coscarellis “Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen” as a main dish. My own recipe for a Caesar Salad at And Chloe Coscarelli’s “Vegan Cookie Dough Truffles” (recipe available on her website, always a crowd pleaser.
10. Where are you off to travel to next? 
Dallas, Charlotte, NC & Hershey, PA will wrap up the first Vegan Roadie Tour. Then it’s back home to New York City to further my education with the Professional Plant-Based Certification course offered by Rouxbe Online Cooking School and to start raising funds and mapping out the route for the second Vegan Roadie Tour. I’m also working on another web series, “OMG! That’s Vegan!?” that will be out in the fall. In the mean time, check out episode 1-8, including Denver (episode 8) on The Vegan Roadie YouTube Channel. Our final episode for Season One featuring the San Francisco Bay Area will be out July 14th.
So, a big thanks to Dustin for working on this interview with me! You can keep up to date with his adventures on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @TheVeganRoadie. Don’t forget to check out his webseries and subscribe to his YouTube while you’re at it!

Will Travel For Vegan Food – The Book Release

Will Travel For Vegan Food - The Book Release and an Interview with Kristin LajeunesseRemember when I said I’d be doing some interviews and non-food (not directly anyway) reviews and interviews on here? Well here’s another one! I got so excited when I found out that Kristin Lajeunesse from Will Travel for Vegan Food was about to release her book, and I lucked out with the opportunity to interview her right here on my blog. The book is titled Will Travel for Vegan Food: A Young Woman’s Solo Van-Dwelling Mission to Break Free, Find Food, and Make Love. Read on to see what she has to say about the book, and how this journey has been so incredibly life-changing for Kristin (and how it can help change your life too). Continue reading

1. What has been the most meaningful part of being vegan to you?
Wowie. This is a tough one. There are SO many meaningful things, it’s extremely difficult to narrow it down to just one. I suppose I’d have to go with community. The vegan community is what led me to veganism in the first place; it’s what got me involved in the Boston vegan scene when I moved there for grad school; it’s what introduced me to my first animal rights internship which led to my job with the WSPA after grad school. The vegan community is what supported my journey and what has caused the awareness of the Will Travel for Vegan Food project to flourish. The vegan community directly impacted the offer I received for a book deal with Vegan Publishers; and it’s also what landed me my current clients. In every way, the vegan community has completely changed my life, for the better.
phillyveganvedge2. You talk on your blog/website about wanting to live a lifestyle about self-discovery and non-conformity. How do you think going vegan helped inspire that?

A natural result of turning inward to ask the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ of specific aspects of my life (including food consumption and production) led me to veganism. As a result, that led to even more questions and awareness about my personal choices and how they impact other people, other animals, and the planet. At the moment veganism is still widely considered a radical or different lifestyle. Therefore, that could tie into the non-conformity aspect of it. But on a deeper level, through learning to ask the right questions and remain open to answers that might not immediately settle well—causing me to ask even harder questions of myself and dig even deeper—led me to understand myself much better – who I want to be, how I want to live, and what kind of impact I wish to have on the world. And that is a life that doesn’t currently fit the mold. I like to live nomadically, travel often, work for myself on my own schedule, and I intend to share vegan food finds from around the world, indefinitely!

3. Were there any doubts you had about either taking this journey or writing the book?
Absolutely (to both)! Throughout the planning stages and especially during the trip – it was a LOT of work, and quite stressful much of the time. Writing a book was something I had never seriously considered until I was approached by Vegan Publishers. It was also one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. The discipline, the built-in “therapy sessions” that were writing chapters with such detail; recalling sometimes incredibly painful experiences, and the pressure I put on myself to produce something that felt strong and realistically representative of my journey and the people I met, was all quite heavy at times.

Above all, despite the doubts or insecurities, one thing remained constant while on the journey and while working through the book: that it was exactly where I need to be/what I needed to be doing. When I sat back and took time to breathe I’d undoubtedly experience this sense of calm, knowing that everything would work out and that this is what I was meant to do.

purfoodandwinenyc4. What really motivated you to write a book about your travels?
I don’t know if that’s something I could ever truly answer. I could say it was Vegan Publisher’s offer to sign me as one of their first authors. Maybe because it would just be cool to say “I’m a published author.” I could say it was because I had once written down a series of life goals, one of which included “getting published.” I could say it was to help segue into the 2.0 version of the trip that I hope to do in 2016. It could be all these things. Or it could just be that it felt right. I’m not sure I’ll ever know. What I do know is that I’m really freaking excited about it.

5. What is the most important lesson you have taken away from all of this?
That most people are good people. And that we all make time for the things that matter most.

6.Were there any people who directly or indirectly inspired you to make the decision to go on such a quest?

Oh yes, absolutely! Before the idea of the trip came to me I had been reading blog after blog and book after book about nomads, lifestyle designers, and incredible people who were living their lives based on what they loved most. To name a few: Elizabeth Gilbert, Cheryl Strayed, Tim Ferriss, Chris Guillebeau, Marie Forleo, Corbett Barr, Pat Flynn, and AJ Leon.

7. What advice do you recommend to people who are “stuck” working a 9-5 job who are desperately seeking something more?
You must first decide where the struggle is coming from. Why do you feel stuck? What do you want to change about your life? And are you willing to do whatever it takes to make the necessary steps to do so? My biggest inspiration was reading about what others were doing. But just reading about them didn’t get me anywhere. I had to take action. I chose to quit my job to ensure I’d move forward with my goal. I chose to leave a relationship because I knew it wasn’t truly what either of us wanted and that it wouldn’t support my bigger life goals. What do you want and what are you willing to do about it?

For those who are in a financial position to do so, I suggest hiring a life or business coach to help hold you accountable and work through those early stages of change. If I (a) knew that life coaches were even a thing back when I was thinking about doing this, and (b) had the money – which I didn’t; I would have leaped at the opportunity to seek guidance from someone who had already gone through it.

plantasheville8. How has taken this journey changed your views about living as a vegan in America?
It has strengthened my knowing that no matter where you are, vegan living is accessible and totally doable.

9. What was your favorite memory from your traveling experiences?
Oh gosh, there’s no way to choose just one (in fact, that’s really what the book is about.. some of my most impactful memories from the road). I suppose if there was one to share with you now, it would be that of Baby James. You can read the short version of how we met and how he impacted my life, by reading THIS post I’d written for 6 Months to Live.

sundae-543x325  kalesalad_injohnaskitchenveganlosangeles  strawberrylayercake_eatspeaksf10. Is there anything else that we should know about your book? (Such as…why should non-vegans or people from different lifestyles read it?)
Due to the nature of my travels, and continued posts on social media, many are expecting the book to be a travel or restaurant guide. It couldn’t be farther from that though. Will Travel for Vegan Food: A Young Woman’s Solo Van-Dwelling Mission to Break Free, Find Food, & Make Love is a memoir about the person side of the journey. It’s about self-reflection, personal growth, the incredible people I met, and inspiring growth and healthy risk-taking in others. It’s much more than food and travel – but of a journey that has forever changed my life, and perhaps may even change yours.

Well, there you have it! A BIG thanks to Kristin for taking the time to let me interview her in celebration of her recently published book. The wonderful images featured in this post were courtesy of, and many of them were from places that Kristin visited on this journey.

If you’re like me at this point, you’re just dying to know where you can purchase this book to check it out for yourself! Right now, you can get it here on Amazon where it’s currently the #1 best-seller in solo travel guides! Comment below what you are the most excited about for this book, and what awesome travel experiences you have had involving vegan food!

Interview with UnhealthyVegan

Interview with UnhealthyVegan and the UnVcMuffin
I do a lot of food reviews on this blog, but I’ve been wanting to change things up a little. Being vegan is about so much more than the food, it’s about the people who are doing awesome things for the movement too! I’ve decided to start doing some interview posts from time to time on here with fellow vegans. I’ve realized that all of us have a different perception of what it means to be vegan, and it’s always helpful to hear their thoughts and advice to better inform our own beliefs about veganism. I had the opportunity to meet André Avena aka UnhealthyVegan, who made an UnVcMuffin  (vegan mcmuffin) for me and we got to talk over some vegan donuts from The Donuttery. Continue reading

Interview with UnhealthyVegan and the UnVcMuffin
The following are my questions and answers with André (pictured above with his UnVcMuffin creation), as part of the interview:

1. What was your perception of vegans before you made the switch?
I actually didn’t have much of a perception of vegans because I didn’t know any. I was so blind to veganism that I didn’t even know people who practice it existed.

2. What made you go vegan?
My ethics professor in community college had a presentation about the ethics of eating animals and he made perfect sense. The guy [he used as an example] for eating animals, who was really funny, had no real good points. And from there I just walked out and said ok I’m going to be vegan. It was that simple. I got educated and decided to act on it.

3. What were your favorite foods before becoming vegan?
Burgers, pizza, burritos.

4. What are your favorite foods now that you are vegan? 
Burgers, pizza, burritos.

5. Where did the name “unhealthyvegan” come from?
The more I think about it and get asked about it, the more I realize how much it means to me and how it has become a part of me. I love it so much now. It means so many things to me now. First off, it was meant as a smart ass answer to everyone who kept telling me that going vegan would be unhealthy. So in a way, it’s basically me saying, “ok, I am what you say I am. I’m an unhealthyvegan like you think I am,” even though I know that’s not the case.  I also love it because it breaks the stereotype that every vegan eats salads and juices. I’m a vegan who eats double bacon cheezeburgers so it works in that sense as well. It is literally the perfect way to describe me in all the ways. The name chose me, I didn’t choose it.

Interview with UnhealthyVegan and the UnVcMuffin
6. Advice to people who want to switch over to veganism?
Just do it already! There isn’t one real reason or excuse not to do it so just go for it! Also get an Instagram because everyone on there can help with recipes or even just ideas for you to cook food. Download all the vegan apps so you know where to go when you’re eating out or what to buy when you’re in the stores.

7. What are your favorite restaurants, either locally or nationally?
I have only eaten locally, but hopefully soon that will change, so in Southern California I love Seabirds, Doomie’s, Organix, Cheezy Pizza, and the Loving Hut in Upland. Veggie Grill for nationwide best food. Those are all my go to restaurants but can’t wait to try even more!

8. What has helped you to stay vegan?
My first answer is the animals. I feel that if you solely do it for the animals than it really becomes easy. I never once felt the need to go back. But the more I think about it, the online community that I joined with Instagram has actually helped me become a better vegan and I truly love them and thank them for making it even easier than it already was.

Interview with UnhealthyVegan and the UnVcMuffin
9.Who are some other influential vegans online that you admire?
All these guys are from Instagram: @HiramCamillo,  @Veganfoodshare, @DangVegan, @StacyMichelson, @TheSaucyVegan, @MyVeganPlate, @NomYourself, @WickedHealthy, and @Vegicano. All of their accounts really bring it when it comes to food and the food they make. Or the food they share or the food they buy, it’s all good and they all have my approval. I would eat every meal of theirs and I know I will be happy. 

10. Which recipe on your YouTube channel has been your top favorite? 
So far I really loved my second episode where I made the Double Bacon Grilled Cheeze. It has two grilled bacon jalapeño cheeze buns, and more bacon and chikin and cheeze in the middle. It’s so amazing.

A big thanks to André for agreeing to do this little interview with me! Be sure to check out his Instagram and Youtube channels and tell him I sent you!