It was the spring of 2009 and I had landed a dream job on the heels of finishing up a master’s degree at Emerson College in Boston. Life was looking like I was taught it should with formal education complete, student loans up the wazoo, and an employment ladder just waiting for me to climb over the course of the next 30+ years. Now to land “the one,” a house, start making babies, and so on.
Wait, what?! It didn’t take me long to figure out that, while I enjoyed college and grad school, and loved the organization I worked for, this wasn’t necessarily my dream life. I found myself dreaming of grand adventures, traveling the world, and wishing I could do all this while also earning a comfortable income and growing into a strong, independent woman.
There came a point when I was getting tired of just talking about the things I’d love to do someday instead of taking actionable steps to make them happen. About one year into my job I stumbled upon some books and blogs about nomadic living, lifestyle design, and creating passive income. My world completely changed. I felt so connected with what some of these people I had been reading about were doing with their lives. Some were working off of their computers while traveling the world, others became successful entrepreneurs and business owners. I knew immediately that this was what I wanted for myself. To travel for real (not just talk about it), to live nomadically (at least for a while), to learn how to grow and cultivate my own business(es), and to share my journey (no matter what it turned out to be) with my friends and family.
On August 23, 2010 I wrote the following on my personal Facebook page, “How long do you think it would take to drive to and to eat at every single vegan restaurant in the US? I just might be up for this challenge.” Now I know that the answer is: about 1.5 years.
The following video was recorded about six months into the road trip. This was a turning point too because I had actually started the trip with a travel buddy, and shortly before this was filmed his time on the trip ended. It was official. I’d go it alone from that point forward. What I didn’t know at the time this video was shot is how much my life was about to change, and how many opportunities were waiting for me in the months that followed.
To date, I’ve visited 48 states, eaten at more than 450 vegan restaurants, and driven over 35,000 miles. I’ve met and shared meals with hundreds of people, met some of the most compassionate and generous people I’ve ever known, traveled to Italy, France, and Hawaii. I have salsa danced in a restaurant’s kitchen, swam with wild sharks and dolphins, shared romantic experiences with the dreamiest of men, volunteered at a half a dozen farm animal sanctuaries, fell in love with at least one in five US cities, discovered a number of unexpected vegan B&B’s, and of course had some of the best food of my entire life. Oh yeah, and I’ve gained about fifteen pounds too.
Now, as the trip comes to a close, I’m preparing to write my very first book. I signed on the dotted line just two weeks ago, after being approached by a publishing company! I’m also developing some digital products related to the road trip, working on a few other exciting business opportunities, and planning an epic end-of-trip party in NYC this summer.
This experience has completely changed my life. In short, I have a far greater understanding of the person I was, the person I want to be, and how I plan to continue shaping my journey. I’ll make decisions based on what moves and inspires me, rather than what society suggests.
For more information about my journey and what’s coming up next, please visit wtfveganfood.com