It’s Spring, which means that these next few months will see a flurry of Spring and Summer wedding activities all over the country. What better time of year, then, to interview one of my favorite vegan bloggers, Kristin Lajeunesse, who just happens to have a blog dedicated to vegan weddings, and another one about vegan food and travel too! She’s a dazzlingly bright, sweet woman, and just the kind of person you’d want helping to plan your vegan wedding. She’s also an amazing example of how to live exactly the life you want.
Allison Rivers Samson: You have two blogs: Rose Pedals Vegan Weddings and Will Travel for Vegan Food. Great topics! How did these ideas come about and are they connected in some way beyond the vegan theme?
Kristin Lajeunesse: Yes, thank you! They actually both came about around the same time but are not directly connected outside of the vegan focus. Just before I started them both I had been reading a lot about following dreams, creating passive income, and learning to live a digital nomadic/minimalist lifestyle. I was ready for a change and had put a bit of time into thinking of creative business ideas to help me pursue a new life pattern.
I think the wedding site came to me super early one morning. It woke me up at 3 or 5am and I couldn’t stop thinking about it – a website dedicated to vegan weddings. I was aware of the wedding features that VegNews does yearly, but after some digging I quickly discovered that there was really nothing out there like this. Yet, a few weeks went by and I was still unable to formulate the entire concept. One day after work I was waiting for the T in Boston (Boylston stop, to be exact) and seemingly out of nowhere the name “Rose Pedals” popped into my mind. “Yeah, pedals like a bicycle because it’s eco-friendly. And Rose like the flower but also like the person.” I sprung to life, hurried back to my apartment, and began looking for vegan artists to bring my “Rose” to life. Once I had that piece of the puzzle the rest of the website started to come together. I launched Rose Pedals Vegan Weddings on February 14th, 2011.
The Will Travel For Vegan Food blog and life changing adventure came about a bit more organically. I found myself in a place in my life where I would say things like, “I’d love to travel but…” or “I really want to do x,y,z but…” I became tired of being an “excusitarian” so I settled on the idea of a cross country, vegan food focused road trip, and started to take actionable steps toward making such an adventure possible. This included leaving a wonderful 9-5 job at the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), starting my own mobile social media business, launching a fund-raising campaign, and hitting the road! It took about a year of planning but I’ve been on the road for almost six months now and I’m having the time of my life.
ARS: It sounds like you have a creative and exciting lifestyle! Are vegan weddings on the rise these days? Do you know any stats on how many couples are having vegan weddings?
KL: As far as I can tell, yes. We seem to get more proposal and wedding stories every month. And in addition, I’ve noticed a trend where it’s not just the bride or groom who is vegan, but both typically are. This is notable since most of our early submissions, last year, came from couples of which only one was vegan. Very exciting stuff!
ARS: What advice would you give to vegan couples getting pressured by family to include meat or dairy on their wedding menus?
KL: This is always a tricky question because everyone takes family input into consideration, in various ways. Some couples want to accommodate guests and others just want a celebration that reflects their own values. Personally, I’d say, it’s your day; if you are more comfortable serving only vegan food, then so be it. It doesn’t have to be a huge deal or even the focus of the event. Just be open and honest from the start, making it clear that you’ve made this choice and will stick by it. We’ve also had some couples who choose to not bring up the topic at all. They just promise that the food will be delicious but say nothing more, or make it a point to avoid the food discussion all together.
The bottom line is that, with food and every other aspect of a wedding, it’s up to the couple. Don’t let others pressure you into anything that you’re not 100% comfortable with. Remember, a wedding is a celebration of love. Everyone chooses to express this in different ways and I don’t believe that a wedding should conform to any one pattern. Go crazy with colors, invite only a few or maybe many, have cupcakes instead of cake! Follow your heart, and your friends and family should respect your decision and support you through this beautifully epic event.
ARS: Are there enough resources for a vegan wedding in most towns? By my count there are only a handful of vegan bakeries in the country, and those are in big cities like NY, LA, SF, DC etc. What options do you recommend for vegans getting married in the rest of the country?
KL: Honestly, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. Some towns have bakeries that are completely accommodating and in other places you’ve got to go digging or simply make the food/sweets yourself. If you’ve looked high and low and seriously can’t find a bakery that will make it happen for you, I’d say gather some close friends, dig up your favorite vegan recipes, and go to town. It can be super fun and result in amazing delicacies that may surprise even you! I know baking your own wedding cake may not seem like an ideal situation, but have fun with it, keep the energy positive, be confident in yourself, and you’ll surely create some amazing goodies!
ARS: I agree. David and I chose to make our own wedding cake and had a ton of fun with it. Because I knew it would be expected, we extravagantly offered four flavors and made sure there were enough servings for everyone to have at least two pieces. Some people even tried one of each flavor! It’s been my experience that with a good recipes, vegan baking isn’t any harder, or even that much different, that conventional baking. Tell us more about your Will Travel for Vegan Food project.
KL: Will Travel For Vegan Food is a year-long, vegan food focused road trip across the US. The goal is to attempt to eat at all of the 100% vegan restaurants in the country. I’m documenting the journey every step of the way, writing about every restaurant I go to, sharing my experiences of travel, adventure, mishap, and everything in between. You’ll also find other content on the travel blog including interviews with vegan business owners and entrepreneurs, volunteer opportunities with area veg groups and farm animal sanctuaries. The tentative end date is October 28, 2012 which is my 30th birthday. I’m hoping to have an over-the-top charity party dedicated to raising money for a farm animal sanctuary. This big bash will likely take place in NYC – I have to go back to finish eating through that city! I couldn’t do it in one week.
On a deeper level, the trip is so much more than food and travel. I knew that it would be a unique, once-in-a-lifetime, life changing experience from the start, but I had no idea just how much it would make me a different person. I’m about six months in and I’ve learned so much about myself and I’ve grown in so many ways. Simply being open to dealing with obstacles, allowing for new opportunities, and taking time to get to know myself, how I work, and the person I want to be going forward has been an amazing lesson in self-awareness. My passions, my dreams, and my life are all here, in this little trip. I’m in love with this world I’ve created for myself and love even more that I get to share it with others.
ARS: Traveling and eating vegan food, that sounds like a perfect adventure! Why didn’t I think of doing that? If you had an Allison’s Gourmet wish list, what would be on it?
KL: Now THIS is a tough question! Everything I’ve ever had from AG has been wonderful. However, if you’re going to twist my arm, I’ll say that my AG wish list includes: chocolate almond toffee, salted chocolate peanut brittle, vegan peanut butter cups, and peppermint crème patties.
Mmmm… great choices! Thanks for chatting with me, Kristin. Happy travels!
If you or someone you know is having a vegan wedding this year, check out Rose Pedals Vegan Weddings to share your story, get help and advice, and connect with other vegan couples. And, even if you do end baking your own cake, AG would be honored to help by making vegan wedding favors customized just for you!