Asheville Wishes and Ice Cream Dreams.

What can I tell you about Asheville that you don’t already know? Beautiful mountains: obviously. Amazing food: ridiculous. Possibly the best Days Inn breakfast buffet known to mankind: you actually may not have known this little tidbit of truth. But it’s legit…I even left a TripAdvisor review of it because I felt so strongly about the breakfast buffet. It had delicious kale on it, people! KALE. Say no more, amiright? Let’s get to it!

This year, at the ripe age of turning 33 on Sunday, I found out that the world does not in fact stop turning for my birthday and nor do is actually make sense to have an entire month’s worth of birthday activities. Call it maturity, call it getting my head out from inside my ass, whatever. For the first time ever, I had a joint birthday dinner on Thursday that was so much damn fun! We went to Elmyriachi where I indulged in a shot of tequila, a PBR tall boy, and a chimichanga. YOLO, homies. It was so lovely to be surrounded by the amazing new friends I’ve made this past year since going vegan and diving into the Atlanta vegan scene.

Road trip ready!

Road trip ready!

Friday morning Beevy and I headed out early-ish to greet Asheville with a smile and empty bellies. Our first destination: Laughing Seed. You may recall that this is the place where Beevy and I went last year and proceeded to drink for approximately 4 hours. This time, things were different. We each had a beer and yummy food and people watched and sat outside. We had already agreed that we didn’t really want to drink (read: we didn’t really want to be hungover losers) so we enjoyed ourselves immensely.

We started off with the fried green tomatoes which were to die for.

We started off with the fried green tomatoes which were to die for.

My super delicious IPA.

My super delicious IPA.

The exact same thing I got last time: tempeh reuben.

The exact same thing I got last time: tempeh reuben.

Beevy got the giant portobello sandwich.

Beevy got the giant portobello sandwich.

Check out this ooey gooey sandwich ahhhhhhhhhh

Check out this ooey gooey sandwich ahhhhhhhhhh

We each packed up some leftovers because our room had a fridge and microwave in it. Score! After our meal, we laid down in our beds and watched trashy reality tv. For 6 hours. I’m not joking. I took a baby cat nap. We ate our leftovers. Then, not very hungry but needing to possibly get out of the hotel room for a little while, we went to Hop to check out the ice cream scene.

Rainbow spotted!

Rainbow spotted!

Hop!

Hop!

Vegan flavors!

Vegan flavors!

The Holy Grail: 2 scoop sundae with three toppings.

The Holy Grail: 2 scoop sundae with three toppings.

Yes, we had ice cream for dinner on Friday and laid around watching tv for 6 hours. Yes, we’re grown adults with jobs. Yes, you wish you were us. The Hop sundae basically made me want to run for President only to make Hop mandatory for children and their vegan aunts on Friday nights . What you see there is a scoop of chocolate hemp milk ice cream, a scoop of vanilla soy milk ice cream, oreos, coconut, chocolate syrup, and coconut whipped cream. I would drive 3 hours for this ice cream sundae, no questions asked. And no, I won’t bring you back any.

So what’s so great about the Days Inn breakfast buffet? Here’s what I got Saturday morning:

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Ahhhhhhhhhhhh kale! Hashbrowns! Fruits! Let me tell you, that kale was delightful. It was still slightly crunchy with a tad of a spicy kick to it. After that, we headed to Sunny Point Cafe where we had to wait about an hour and a half for a table (hence why we ate a little before hand). While we waited, we drank!

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A mimosa for Beevy and a bloody mary for me!

A mimosa for Beevy and a bloody mary for me!

So pretty!

So pretty!

Once seated we ordered some delicious grub. I got the same thing as last time (what’s with me ordering the same thing??) and Beevy got an omelette. Mine was yummy as hell but I think next time I will try something new.

Huevos Fucheros!

Huevos Fucheros!

After brunch, we decided to go swimming at the pool. We stayed outside for about 45 minutes, and then it got cold, and also Beevy and I are translucent in skin tone so we ran indoors to commence laying on the bed once again. We had reservations for Plant for Saturday night, and when we started talking about it, we both realized that we sort of didn’t want to go. It struck us that we didn’t want to pay $20 for an entree that no doubt would be delicious, but we wondered if it would be worth it. We found a new place called Bean Vegan Cuisine and we decided to give it a whirl.

Holy shiitake mushrooms, people. Bean was EVERYTHING I wanted and was so delicious and wonderful and amazing. Beevy and I were treated like queens by our server, Jasmine, who was super informative and awesome. I kid you not when I say that I have already Google Map-ped how long it will take me to get back to Bean from my house (3 hours, give or take). Here’s what the Bean giveth:

Menu!

Menu!

Mas menu!

Mas menu!

Lenny's Boy Ginger Kombucha: I could not, in good conscious, have come to Asheville and not had Kombucha.

Lenny Boy Ginger Kombucha: I could not, in good conscious, have come to Asheville and not had Kombucha.

FRIED PICKLES

FRIED PICKLES WITH VEGAN RANCH

TATOR TOT CASSEROLE

TATOR TOT CASSEROLE

TOFU FINGER SANDWICH

TOFU FINGER SANDWICH

MAC N CHEESE

MAC N CHEESE

CRABBIE PATTY SANDWICH

CRABBIE PATTY SANDWICH

My smiling tomato

My smiling tomato

Go vegans!

Go vegans!

Chocolate cake!

Chocolate cake!

Check out that icing!

Check out that icing!

Yay!

Yay!

You guys! Not only was the food OUTSTANDING but they put a candle in my cake! And they wrote Happy Birthday on the take-out menu for me! And they gave us Bean stickers! Uggggghhhhhhh. To be honest, I’m kind of obsessed with this restaurant. There are not many places that make you feel like home, that are warm and inviting and wonderful. Please please please go there!

On Sunday morning, in honor of the anniversary of my birth, Beevy and I had two rounds of the Days Inn buffet. Here are my two rounds:

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Beevy and I also drove along the Blue Ridge Parkway and found our way to a portion of the French Broad River where people with kayaks were hopping in. This is how I feel about turning 33:

I don't know about you, but I'm feeling 33.

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 33.

And this is also how I feel about turning 33:

Life is not complete without a

Life is not complete without a “Yo Mama” joke.

Then, because we were not in a hurry to get back to Atlanta and also because neither one of us was hungry in any way, we headed back to Bean to peep their brunch.

The Brunch Bowl.

The Brunch Bowl. Tofu scramble, cheese grits, carrot bacon, biscuit, sausage, home fries.

Beevy's Tofu Scramble.

Beevy’s Tofu Scramble.

Sausage Gravy like whoa.

Sausage Gravy like whoa.

Basically, Bean brought the brunch heat. Can we talk about what a revelation carrot bacon is for a moment? I am now OBSESSED with that junk. Beevy and I had whole conversations about carrot bacon. I’m thinking that this recipe is a good place for me to start.

Sadly, Beevy and I had to leave glorious Asheville. When I made it home, my whole family celebrated me and showered me with presents and vegetables and vegan cupcakes. I’m truly a lucky girl!

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All in all, this was the best birthday I’ve had in a very long time. No drama, no hangovers, no crying, no bad decisions, and surrounded by love. I am ready to take on the year!

ASHEVILLE

ASHEVILLE

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To Asheville I Go!

Many many great things are on the horizon for this veg-head gal and I can’t wait to share them all with you! One, I get to eat a vegan chimichanga tonight and I’m also wearing a pretty dress and I’m having a joint birthday dinner with two amazing people and life is great. Two, I’m leaving for Asheville tomorrow morning with my ride-or-die Beevy for a girls weekend get away to my all-time favorite mountainous place where we will eat, nap, lay by the pool, watch Bravo, and eat again. Did I mention that it will be our very first time to eat at Plant on Saturday night? I don’t know what to get there! Has anyone been that can advise me? I really want the caramelized Jerusalem artichokes, because, what the hell are we even talking about? Where else can you eat that? When I tell you that I’ve been staring at Plant’s menu for a week and still am no closer to a desision, please believe me. When it’s an all vegan place, my vegan heart yearns to scream out loud “I WANT IT ALL BECAUSE I DESERVE IT AND ALSO JUST BECAUSE I CAN’T EAT THIS ANY OTHER TIME AND SERIOUSLY THOUGH, WHAT’S DUKKA?”

Sigh. If there’s one thing I won’t be this weekend, it is hungry. My homie Beevy is always down for an excellent meal, too. We’ve decided that we have to go back to Sunny Point Cafe because it was the jam and we completely cleared our plates and drank mimosas and no one cared that we were there for approximately 3 hours. We’ve also decided that we don’t really want to be hungover like our last Asheville trip (and by “we” I mean “me”) so we’re just gonna chill.

It’s also my birthday on Sunday and I will be 33. How did this happen? How am I in my early-mid thirties? Other than not being able to drink anymore because the hangovers are like knives to the eyes, and having to go to bed at 10:30 on a school night, I don’t necessarily feel super old. It helps that my 17-year-old cousin likes to tell me that all of her friends thought I was 26 (I make her tell me that all the time, almost like a greeting). But it seems like life is finally coming together, piece by piece. It’s progress and not perfection, people. And I am SO GLAD that granny panties are back because I ain’t got time for that. I’m too busy napping.

Ardenne Farm’s Blueberry Muffins: Or, Why I Can No Longer Bake At My House.

I found out about Ardenne Farm’s products at the Gluten Free & Allergen Friendly Expo. I listened to the representative long enough for my brain to explode: I could make vegan blueberry muffins at home. See, friends…I was raised on the blueberry muffin. You know that box mix with the crazy blueberries in a can and you add some oil and eggs and put them in muffin wrappers and then you slice each one when they’re still hot and add a pat of butter because you’re from the south and you do such things and then you eat 4 of them? Ahhhhhhh those were the days! And I thought those days were long gone.

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Enter Ardenne Farm’s Blueberry Muffin Muffin Mix. With completely natural ingredients (I’m giving you the big thumbs up, Gluten Free Flour Blend!) this package is 100% gluten free and vegan from jump. The recipe for the muffins calls for milk, oil, and eggs to be added to the mix and blueberries. Unsweetened Almond Milk? Check. Oil? Check. Vegan Eggs? Ehhhhhh well, I’ve never actually baked anything vegan that needed “eggs” before. So I ran to my trusty favorite site and searched  for a flax egg recipe. Lo and Behold: the perfect substitute to the egg! Minimalist Baker provides the key to my heart, in many ways. Search their site for all things yummy, quick, and low ingredient count.

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I was all set to go on a Friday night and soon the muffins were baking away and rising like the good universe intended. I did have to bake them longer than the recipe calls for, perhaps due to a 20 year old oven. Within mere minutes the house smelled like my childhood: doughy, hot, steaming balls of crisp-on-the-outside-but-soft-in-the-middle blueberry muffins. Basically, this was the best Friday night ever. I could barely wait to let them cool enough so that I could slice each one open and add a pat of Earth Balance butter, just like my mom does.

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Finally, I was ready to taste. The soft, gooey inside, yellowed with butter and oozing blueberries made my taste buds dance. The crisp outside filled my heart with delight. I stood there, over the sink, and jammed two muffins into my mouth before my brain could catch up. I ate three more for breakfast the next morning. I brought some to friends and then ate the rest on Sunday.  I don’t know if I’m making it quite clear, but these muffins were to me what the muffins of my childhood were: perfect, warm globes of sweet blueberry joy. Delicious, quick, simple. Now it’s a battle to not buy them every week. Check the website to see where you can buy them or snag some online!

NOT SO FINE PRINT: I was given a free box of these muffins to try, but all opinions and delicious descriptions are my own.

A Long Weekend and a Short Trip.

First of all, is anyone watching “Broad City”? I’ve only seen a handful of episodes, but it took all the strength I had not to title this post “YASSSSS QUEEN” and do a moonwalking shimy out of here. It’s been a while since my last post and I attribute it to frequent baby freak-outs about possible future employment and basic life predicaments. But you guys don’t want to hear about that, do you? I take that silence as a giant HELL NO and so I will now talk about the most important thing of all time: FOODZ.

The crew and I were total slackers when it came to a new restaurant on the scene probably because it’s in Alpharetta: Vito’s Pizza and Ristorante. We finally set a date and made it happen. When I say that this tiny place brought THE HEAT with vegan Italian food, please trust me. When it comes to restaurants with so many vegan options, we all tend to want all the things and order too much and are too full and regret nothing. Here’s what we got:

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The menu! Check out all of the vegan items!

A delightful side salad that came with my lunch.

A delightful side salad that came with my lunch.

We HAD to share the crab cakes!

We HAD to share the crab cakes!

GARLIC ROLLS

GARLIC ROLLS

Baked Ziti

Baked Ziti

Homemade Cheesecake

Homemade Cheesecake

Here’s the deal, people. I’m gonna be super honest with you all. Have you guys been to Provino’s? The place where they serve the endless amounts of garlic rolls swimming in vats of melted butter with chunks of garlic floating? I have been so tempted by those damn rolls before that I’ve come thisclose to saying “Eh, I’ll go back to being vegan tomorrow….shhhhhhhh no one will ever know….” And now, they’re here: vegan garlic rolls that melt in your mouth and leave you weeping for more. I’m surprised a riot didn’t break out between us friends as we grabbed for the last one. The crab cakes were breathtaking and will be added to the menu soon. My baked ziti was phenomenal. Do I even need to talk about the homemade cheesecake? I didn’t think so. I wish it was sitting next to me right now.

Immediately after eating and being so full that I thought I might die a slow, yet satisfying death, I ran to the H Mart to get my dumpling fix on.

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The great thing about the H Mart is, aside from it pretty much rocking my face off, that you can buy a 50 pack of dumplings for the low price of around $5. Vegan dumplings. DUMPLINGS. I don’t know about you, but I would be tickled pink if I could only eat dumplings every single day of my life. And now I do! Oh, joyous day!

Last week, my mom and I had to make a quick run to Mobile and be surrounded by a slew of German-Alabamian family members as we celebrated the life of my mom’s uncle. It was an overnight trip; only enough time to rest a bit, eat a ton, and hug plenty.

Southern food at its finest.

Southern food at its finest.

We were both pooped when we got home. I was just alive enough to hit up the glorious Loving Hut and eat until my heart’s content:

Energy juice!

Energy juice!

Wonton soup!

Wonton soup!

Golden tofu!

Golden tofu!

Ugggghhhhhhhhh. The ways I love Loving Hut are many, but I wish I had that wonton soup in my hands at all times. Oh, and I got some cake to go because YOLO.

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I woke up early the next day to hit up some meditation at my Tibetan Buddhist Monestary. I haven’t been in FAR TOO LONG but that is changing.

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Afterwards I met a friend for lunch which equaled tacos, guac, and margaritas because that’s how Holy Taco rolls.

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Those vegan tacos were money. They had pickled radish on them! A revelation.

For dinner, I went to my friend’s house and helped them cook some vegan goodies:

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We had sauteed Brussels sprouts with onions and tofu, kidney beans with tofurkey kielbasa, and a medley of kale/edamame/tofu/sunflower seeds/hoison sauce. When I tell you all that I love people that love to eat, it’s the honest truth. We chowed down on this grub like it was our last meal and we didn’t want to share.

Fun news! I will have some product reviews coming up soon, so get those mouths ready to water. Happy Wednesday to us all, and a special shout out to all of the teachers who are finishing their school years! You guys deserve to sit on your couches for a minimum of 7-12 days and watch marathons of old school Real World.

 

Alive! Expo Review

Is it possible that I’m “expo-ed out”? Am I tired of all the goodies, the coupons, and making small talk with complete strangers? Am I just  #OVERIT when it comes to the sensation that my left arm will soon detach itself from my body because it simply cannot hold that many items at once?

No. Have we met? You all should be well aware that I will go to great lengths to be the owner of free items. For a free t-shirt, I’ve stumbled across miles of sweaty and humid terrain with blistered feet. FOR A T-SHIRT. And this expo brought the heat.

How cute is she?

How cute is she?

I went with my 17-year-old cuz because she’s a bad ass and also because, secretly, I think she’s veg-curious. Though Chik-Fil-A is her favorite food, so I have my work cut out for me. Nevertheless, she was game to see where the day lead us. We met up with my pals Holly and Aaron and let the games begin.

Saffron Road!

Saffron Road!

!!!

!!!

I have seen Saffron Road’s frozen meals before and have never tried them because I can’t find a vegan one. BUT. They showed me that not only do they offer vegan seasoned chickpea snacks (YUM) but they also offer tasty sauce packets. Yay! They’re coming to the vegan side of the world where it’s nice and cozy and the patchouli runs like water. I’m excited to try more of their products!

CHOCOLATE ALERT

CHOCOLATE ALERT

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I was immediately sold on Pacari chocolates for many reasons: family-owned, Ecuadorian, organic, sustainable farming methods, small scale farmers. Sigh. We all were smitten with Pacari and I bought some to take home. You had no idea that lemongrass belonged in chocolate until you taste it Pacari-style.

Bearded Brothers!

Bearded Brothers!

Oh, Bearded Brothers. So chill. So awesome. I was super happy to see them there and meet them. I will be reviewing their products soon so more on them later.

All in all, it was a great Expo. There was an overwhelming amount of products versus food, but that’s cool. Bloggers were treated especially well there which made me (and my unsuspecting cuz) super happy. On to the next expo!

PlantBasedATL’s One Year Anniversary Party!

We came, we saw, we ate fried foods at 2:30 in the morning. We were there for one reason only: to dance the night away and take questionable pictures in celebration of our One Year Anniversary. After a super duper busy day, we were ready to relax and listen to music with 20 of our closest friends. PlantBasedATL has become quite the buzz in the vegan part of Atlanta; from bringing Cowspiracy to town to starting a successful book club and holding our first ThanksLiving event. We’ve eaten our way across this glorious town with gusto. And we wanted to share the love with our tried and true homies.

Balloons floated across the dance floor as we munched on fruit, hummus, and homemade curried rice. Michael Jackson or Prince or Britney Spears made us boogie late into the night (morning?) and we truly celebrated what we had built: community. PlantBasedATL is not just about the food (it sort of is), but it’s also about the connections we make along the way. From local restaurants offering healthy foods to the community giving donations for Full Circle Farm Sanctuary, we have tried to bridge the gap and make lasting relationships. And this deserves celebrating!

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Here comes trouble.

Krista is now 100% vegan! Congrats to her!

Krista is now 100% vegan! Congrats to her!

Can you tell I was sweating in this picture?

Can you tell I was sweating in this picture?

Meghan + Daniel!

Meghan + Daniel!

The late night crew.

The late night crew.

Mistakes were made at 2:30 in the morning.

Mistakes were made at 2:30 in the morning.

If you didn’t make it to our anniversary party, fear not. We have many many MANY more fun things in store!

PlantBasedATL Meetup: Desta

The following words can properly describe our experience at Desta for the PlantBasedATL Meetup:

Delicious. Amazing. Fresh. Quick. Wonderful. Full. Fun. Tremendous. Flavor. Awe. Sunshine. Smiling. Community. Inspiring.

Basically, you should have been there. The service was on point, the weather was glorious, the staff was welcoming, and the food….oh, the food. My mouth just started watering thinking about the food. Do me a favor, will you? Because we’re friends? When you drive to Desta today on your way home from work, sit on the patio and order the Vegetarian Platter. You too will soon eat like a queen:

WHAT.

WHAT.

Not to worry, they will keep the injera coming:

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I legitimately just wiped drool away from my mouth. Don’t forget about the sambusa:

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These are Ethiopian spring rolls filled with lentils and spices and fairy dust and hopes and dreams. Dip them into that special spicy red sauce if you dare.

We had such a great time that no one wanted to leave. I had the bright idea to stay long enough to get hungry again just so that I could order the platter a second time, but it was not to be (also I’m pretty sure Desta does not recommend this).

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HEY QUEEN

HEY QUEEN

Book Club represent!

Book Club represent!

New friends!

New friends!

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Did you see all the platters ordered? Do you see all of the smiling faces? Desta, eating with my hands has never felt so right. We will be back!

 

Alive! Expo

Another weekend, another expo! I’m super stoked to be a blogger for the Alive! Expo in Atlanta next weekend. Can we talk about how amazing this expo is going to be? Allow me a moment to tell you all about the expo straight from the expo’s mouth:

“Alive Expo is a one weekend, two day event that is packed with interactive demos, live health lectures from industry leaders, workshops, and kids activities that the whole family can enjoy! Each year thousands of consumers attend Alive! Expo events to learn how to integrate health and wellness into environmentally responsible, green living and to create a positive impact on the world as a whole. Attendees get a chance to experience all the newest and best natural, organic, green and eco products for your home and their entire family, even the pets!

Each year Alive! Expo events draw over 200 national and local companies representing many industries including: Natural & Organic Foods; Natural & Organic Personal Care/Natural Beauty; Vitamins & Supplements; Alternative & Herbal Medicines; Natural & Eco Pet Products; Green Home & Eco Household Products; Eco Fashion & Accessories; Books/Videos; Sportswear; Health/Fitness/Gyms and Yoga/Pilates Studios; Natural Spa Products & Services; Recycled Products & Environmentally Friendly Products; Hybrid & Electric Cars; and much, much more!!!”

WHAT THE WHAT! I can hardly stand this. How lucky are we in this city to have such great expos and festivals coming our way? I will be there on Saturday and Sunday to explore all that the expo has to offer. I may eat all of the Upton’s samples.

If you’d like to join me, please do! You can get your tickets using this link and the code VEGABIDES for $5 off your ticket prices. Who’s ready?

This Vegan Really Ties The Room Together: 10 Questions With Kristin Lajeunesse of “Will Travel For Vegan Food”

I have gone way beyond excited and into a parallel universe of starry eyes and sweaty palms because, as the inaugural post in my new interview series, I had the honor and pleasure to interview my new friend Kristin Lajeunesse. Kristin is the brains and beauty behind the widely popular website Will Travel For Vegan Food. And yes, before you even ask, you will want to head out on a road trip after you visit her site. What makes Kristin a vegan goddess? In 2011, she quit her full time job to head out on the open road in search of vegan food in Gerty, her loyal yet quirky van. She found more than the best vegan food these 50 states have to offer. Kristin developed an insatiable need for the nomadic lifestyle, in addition to becoming an awe-inspiring entrepreneur. Yesterday, her brand spanking new book “Will Travel For Vegan Food: A Woman’s Solo Van-Dwelling Mission to Break Free, Find Food & Make Love” was released to the world. I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy and almost went blind as I read it at break-neck speed. Inspiring, honest, and raw, Kristin’s shares her heart with us and brings us along on her journey. But what does Kristin have to say about it all? Take it away, Kristin!
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What inspires you to travel? What drives your wanderlust?
It’s driven by something I can’t necessarily describe. Initiated by this deep sense of knowing that this project was something I *needed* to do, leading to a lifestyle I feel in love with unexpectedly; the drive comes from a passion within. Perhaps some people are just wired that way. 🙂
What led you to entrepreneurship?
I always knew I wanted to work for myself but had never taken action on it until deciding to go on the Will Travel for Vegan Food journey. I was initially planning to work from the road, so I knew I had to redefine how I’d work and what I’d work on. The trip turned out to be too big a project to do while also working, so I ended up living off of donations the full two years of the trip. After the trip ended I was delighted to be offered some freelance opportunities. I was also getting quite a few inquiries about the lifestyle I had created for myself and some of those turned into paid coaching or mentorships opportunities. Turns out, I *LOVE* love love helping others learn how they too can turn their passions into profitable careers. Today, I offer mentorship programs, online business training courses, and give talks around the country about vegan business marketing and management. In truth, I’m still ironing out the details of that business model for myself. But what I do know is how much I love working one-on-one with people who are passionate about what they want to do with their lives. It’s incredibly invigorating and rewarding.
Being the Yoda in female entrepreneurship, what advice would you give for females striving for self-employment? 
Oh my! That’s quite the compliment. 🙂 ::blush:: For other women who seek something different, something more, something in the realm of self-employment, my advice is this: start where you are. Start with what you have. Start now. Do not let potential confines of what other people or society have placed on what you “should” be doing with your life. You define the rules and you are allowed to make and break the ones that govern your life. Even if you’re not totally clear on what your first move should be, or what your career will be, the most important thing is to take action. Any action: journal it out, meditate, buy the domain of yourfirstnamelastname.com; whatever feels right, just start moving. As my dear friend and fellow female entrepreneur Kelly Bennett would say, action equals clarity.
Who is your book written for? What do you want your audience to take away?
My book is written for people who want more out of life; it’s for travelers, nomads, lifestyle designers, entrepreneurs, vegans, non-vegans, go-getters, and those seeking inspiration about a life-changing journey.
If nothing else I’d like my audience to be left with feelings of empowerment, joy, and inspiration. To know that anything is possible; thoughts become things; and that if you want something badly enough, you’ll find a way to make it happen.
How was the writing experience for your book? Organic, forced, hectic, exciting?
All of the above. Haha! If I had to sum it up, it would be: one of the most challenging experiences of my life. Parts of it came naturally. I felt blessed to find ways in which to express myself that I didn’t know I was capable of. And folks who would review the chapters as I went along would point out tie ins or neat connections made that I didn’t even realize I had incorporated. Things that I suppose you could say came about organically. The looming deadline made it feel forced and hectic at times, naturally. And the elation I felt when the first draft was done, was nothing short of exciting. As is the journey ahead. I love marketing and promotion, so I’m very much looking forward to those aspects of launching the book out into the world. 🙂
What advice would you give for newbie vegans and those curious about veganism?
Start where you are. Do your research and find a support group (or even one other person who is vegan or who wants to be). Once you have clarity around WHY you’re choosing to learn more and possibly go vegan, the easier the journey will be.
What do you think of veganism as a trend (i.e. celebrities trying veganism)? 
Although I’ve never considered it a trend personally, or among my fellow vegan friends and activists, I have noticed the wave of celebrity mentions of veganism that you speak of. If anything I often find myself disappointed in the criticisms that fellow vegans place on celebrities for trying it out. Often times the person in the spotlight is “not vegan enough.” Yet at the same time we elevate celebrities to ungodly levels when they do claim veganism; and then tear them a part again if they choose to forgo that way of living.
What is your favorite cruelty free/vegan brand (clothing/makeup/household products/shoes)?
Hmm… this is a tough one. There are so many I adore. Since, as I’m writing to you in the moment, I’m wearing a Herbivore Clothing Co. zip-up sweater—and considering I wear this one almost everyday, often times with another of their shirts underneath it—I’ll go with the Herbivore Clothing Co. Another point *for* Herbivore Clothing is that I actually have a tattoo on my right forearm of one of their designs. It’s the elephant that once appeared on their “I’m vegan and I love you” t-shirts.
What would be your last meal on Earth? No limitations on quantities or locations! 
Vegan Treat’s Peanut Butter Bomb!
Imagine I’m a meat-eater who thinks vegans are weak salad eaters and I’m coming to dinner. What would you cook for me? 
I wouldn’t! Instead I’d find out what your favorite food is, and order a vegan version of it from my favorite nearby vegan restaurant. I’d much rather get something I know tastes amazing rather than risk making it myself (I’m only occasionally a good cook). 😉
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Many thanks to you, Kristin! Check her book out (it’s sitting pretty at #1 in Solo Travel Guides) and be sure to leave a review.
NOT SO FINE PRINT DISCLOSURE: I was given an advanced copy of Kristin’s book but all opinions are my own.

The Gluten Free & Allergen Friendly Expo!

I was just tickled pink on Saturday to be an official blogger at the Gluten Free & Allergen Friendly Expo! I had no idea what to expect and for some reason I was really nervous, which inevitably made me sweat too much for being in a climate controlled building. Good thing I had my ride-or-die with me all day long, Beevy. Not only is she an omnivore with no allergies and basically had no real need to be there, but she came to support me and get free goodies like she was trick-or-treating. I’m not joking, folks…they were giving away SO MUCH FOOD that Beevy and I had to make a trip to my car to unload at one point because my shoulder hurt. MY SHOULDER HURT FROM CARRYING AROUND ALL OF THE FREE FOOD. Do you hear me, universe? Can every day be the GF&AF Expo? Please? I promise not to go crazy at the Sprouts booth again (Maybe. Actually, I can’t promise that. I have no self control when there’s free popcorn around).

First and foremost, Massel was the blogger sponsor and gave all of us a giant box filled with Massel goodies. I had never heard of this brand before but now I am in love. In the gift box was a huge assortment of vegan bouillon and stock in chicken, beef or vegetable flavors. I cooked a tofu scramble on Sunday morning with the liquid chicken stock and it tasted like scrambled gold. An amazing product. Isn’t it great how far vegan products have come?

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When you entered the expo, everyone was given a goodie bag that had some great stuff in it (all of which I have dutifully tried just for you, dear reader).

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These Snapea Crips were soooooo good. Like, really really good. I was sad that I had the trial size, to be honest. My mom has said that she found these at Publix but I can neither confirm nor deny this as I never shop at Publix.

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This is the first time I have had any of the “squeeze” products (like a “Go-gurt” or whatever it’s called) and I’m going to be completely honest with you all (please sit down and stop eating if you are): the texture made me think of diarrhea. I’m sorry! It was seriously my immediate thought. Highly disturbing and I sort of felt like I was lied to.

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Oh, Go Picnic. You have made a fan out of me. I’ve seen these products before and have quickly passed them by. They also had a booth set up at the expo and they are amazing enough to have not one but two vegan meals. These are non-GMO, gluten free little powerhouse portable snack/meals. I was not prepared for how much I like these. They package everything separately (which can create more waste, as Beevy pointed out, but maybe you can recycle it?) in these super cute and playful bags and they even give you a game inside the carton. They had me at dark chocolate and tangerine orbites. Oh, and the package with the edamame/pepita/sunflower seeds? Why haven’t I had roasted edamame before? It is a complete revelation in my life.

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We had SO many other foods at the expo and I will feature some in future posts. Here are some honorable mentions:

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Freedom cereals: quite delicious. We’re talking about a vegan chocolate rice crispie type cereal, people. Also I saw these at Kroger last night so that made me very happy.

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Perfect Bar: so yummy. A delicious alternative to other bars you’ve tried, this is a family-run company that makes balanced nutritious fuel. The almond coconut one is the only one that’s vegan but I am proud to say that it was indeed super lovely.

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Raw Noble vanilla bean mousse pie: a cashew based mouthful of wonder. They even have a chocolate flavor, and a key lime flavor, and a coconut flavor, and why aren’t I currently eating this?

Here’s the deal: I have never felt more like a hoarder than I did when I left the expo. BAGS of food littered my car with only my shame to keep it company.

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I’m not joking. I would feel bad except that I don’t. Overall, the expo was amazing. I met so many super nice people, I tried way too many new products, and my pals Holly, Daniel, and Mercedes came to hang with Beevy and I!

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Beevy is missing from these pictures because she is allergic to something she ate (at the Gluten Free & Allergen Friendly expo) and the irony is not lost on me.