"Will Travel for Vegan Food" Book Launch Interview
I first got the chance to meet Kristin from Will Travel for Vegan Food at two of her talks at the Toronto Vegetarian Food Festival, and it was one of those experiences that changes things. See I had JUST started Plates for Plants at that point in time and her talks about her journey and how to run a successful blog really got me thinking I could turn this into a full time gig.
Well now she's done it again, being inspirational and all, with the release of her Memoir about her journey across 50 US states, to over 600 vegan restaurants in her van; also titled Will Travel for Vegan Food. I had to opportunity to ask her a few questions about her journey, the food, the book and what were the best and worst moments she experienced.
You can get the book here.
1. Since Plates for Plants is all about the comfort food, what was your most memorable comfort moment during the trip?
My most memorable comfort moment is the one I talk about in Chapter 11 (TO HEAR THE MOVEMENTS). In addition to enjoying the best soul food in the entire country, from Detroit Vegan Soul, with my new friend Nicole, it was also a difficult point in the trip as I learned my Pop (my Mom's Dad) was near passing and I need to book a flight home for his funeral. Nicole and her family, though near complete strangers at that point, took complete care of me - and of the van while I was home for the funeral. It's one of my deepest and warmest memories of all-time. It's available as an early release chapter, HERE
2. If you had to choose the 3 best restaurants you experienced, which ones and why?
Some of the most memorable restaurants I experienced while traveling were Sprig & Vine (in New Hope, PA), Vedge (in Philly), and Mineral (in Murphy's, CA).
I was in awe of the beauty of New Hope, PA. I'd never been before and didn't expect it to be so cute and comforting. Before making my way to the restaurant I had a really great phone conversation with my brother. I remember having taken a walk to the waterfront and was strolling along there chatting with him. What made this experience unique is that my brother and I historically don't stay in touch that much. When we see each other at family get togethers we can talk for hours and get along really well. But when we're not in the same place we rarely keep in touch. I was emotional after we hung up because I enjoyed our chat so much. Then, once arriving at the restaurant I had one of the best meals of the trip to-date. Not only that but the service was fantastic. Before going to bed (in the van) that night I received an unexpected email from Ross, the owner of the restaurant. He learned of my project from the server and invited me back the next day for lunch. I couldn't get over how kind and thoughtful everyone seemed to be. It was amazing!
Philly was equally enjoyable as it was my first time exploring that city. It culminated in an epic dining experience at Vedge, in which I talk in great detail about, in Chapter 6 (CONTRAST). It just so happens to be another of the early release chapters, which can be found HERE
. The short version is: The food at Vedge knocked my socks off and sent me to another world. It wasn't just the food - the decor, the service, and the attention to details. Everything was spot-on.
My stop at Mineral was really neat because the restaurant owner, Maya had reached out to me nearly 2 years before I'd made my way across the country. She had heard about my project then, and when I finally reached Northern California I was delighted to reconnect with Maya and drove into Murphy's; which turned out to be one of the most unique towns I'd ever seen! Plus, their signature burger (which I believe they veganized for the occasion as they are not an exclusively vegan establishment) is hands-down THE best burger I've ever, ever, ever, ever had. Sincerely, I've still never had anything that tasted like that. It's difficult to describe but I do talk about it in the book as well. :)
3. Quick! You have 2 things you can eat for the rest of your life, what do you choose?
Whole coconuts (because they contain water AND "meat") and the 'Peanut Butter Bomb' from Vegan Treats.
4. During your trip, what do you think contributed the most to your self-development as an entrepreneur?
Hmm.. great question! One of the major components of the journey—which took some getting used to—was the ability to kind of just, go with the flow 90% of the time. Though I had a loose schedule and a general route, there was much that was completely out of my control (weather, events, meeting new people and wanting to stay in a place longer, getting sick, getting burned out, etc.). Therefore, I'd say that learning to be flexible and roll with the punches has made me a much more confident entrepreneur. In addition I've learned that leaning into projects that FEEL right is way more important that working ones just for the money or because I think that's what I'm supposed to do. Similarly, during my travels, I relied heavily on my gut/intuition to guide the way much of the time (where I'd choose to park the van to sleep at night, who "felt" okay to meet in person and who didn't, etc.).
5. What are the three best tips that you would give a new entrepreneur starting a vegan business?
1.Clarity is power. Before you do ANYTHING else it is vital to understand your business model, your modes of income, and your primary/target audience. Without those things in clear view it'll be difficult to move in any direction and/or make traction doing so.
2.Do ONE thing at a time. Often we think of ALL the things we could possibly do. Particularly when we're forecasting the money side of things it's easy to believe that offering a variety of things would lead to more monetary opportunities. But the truth is, by trying to offer or perfect more than one thing at a time we end up doing an 'okay' job at a bunch of things, instead of a really good job at one thing. Choose just ONE offering, or ONE product and perfect how best to create it, share it, promote it, and sell it. The focus will inherently make you successful.
3.Regarding social media, it's easy to get caught up in the 'be everywhere' mindset. To have a business account on ALL of the social medias. ;) However, this can get overwhelming. I often suggest focusing no more than 2-3 social media platforms at a time so that—like with our ONE thing, above—we can perfect those *before* adding others. Imagine how great it would be to build a solid Facebook page and really "get" what works for that crowd before diving into, say YouTube or Twitter. Already feels better doesn't it? ;)
6. What was the biggest struggle you had to deal with on the trip and how did you deal with it?
One of the biggest struggles I experienced was leaving people behind. I met SO many incredible people. I even fell in (romantic) love more than once. It was really difficult to make new friends and real connections, to then leave them behind. I realized though that that was part of the journey I'd chosen. Of course, I've remained in touch with nearly everyone I met while traveling and over time it would get easier. I suppose the way I dealt with it was to simply thank that person for being in my life, and continuing on.
It's a little embarrassing to admit but, before the road trip I definitely had clingy tendencies both toward friends and romantic partners. I'd get possessive, for sure. I believe that experience in learning to let go—no matter the type of relationship—was incredibly healing and has made me a much more independent and confident person; a more suitable partner now than before, for sure. :)
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