There’s something special about Jordan Younger, a.k.a. The Blonde Vegan. Is it her bubbly, warm personality? Her relaxed, straight-off-the-Cali-beach mentality? Or maybe it’s her enviable, bi-coastal lifestyle. Okay, so it’s probably all that and more. But what we love most about Younger is her super approachable vibe and surprisingly accessible vegan blog. Unlike other health junkies on the web, Younger passes no judgement, and instead invites her followers to make food and health-related choices that are best for them and the lifestyle they want to live. From delectable recipes to restaurant reviews and updates on her yoga journey, The Blonde Vegan is the perfect hotspot for anyone interested in living a healthier lifestyle, whether you’re ready to make the vegan commitment or just want to dabble in healthy eating. We got the chance to sit down with Younger and talk about her blog, her health-driven lifestyle, and all things vegan. Thanks to her, we’ve realized that the vegan lifestyle is not so scary and can be totally delicious! We have a feeling you’ll think so, too.
Cliché: How has your life changed since you decided to go vegan?
Jordan Younger: My life has changed in so many positive ways since my decision to go vegan. The greatest change took place within me because, for the first time in my life, I am feeding myself with foods that do not bother my extremely sensitive stomach. I have lost weight and gained a ton of energy, but most importantly the stomach problems and migraines I had suffered from my entire life have disappeared. I am happier and more confident, and I have significantly less stress in my day-to-day life. It’s crazy how much food can stress you out if you aren’t eating the right foods for your body. I have also been given the wonderful gift of helping others transform their lifestyle through my blog, which has given me a new sense of purpose with veganism. Connecting with like-minded individuals and helping others find the healthiest version of themselves has become a huge part of my life, and without veganism, I wouldn’t have found any of that.
What role does exercise play in your vegan lifestyle?
Exercise plays a vital role in my vegan lifestyle. Without exercise, a healthy diet cannot fully do its job, just like without a healthy diet, exercise cannot really do its job. My fitness philosophy is similar to my food philosophy: find what works with your body, and then be consistent with it. I practice yoga every day because I am in love with the exercise, the yogic philosophy, and the way that it makes me feel. I also run anywhere from 3-5 days a week, I swim and bike in the summertime, and I am a pretty huge Soul Cycle fan. When you eat well, there is no excuse not to be active, and you will probably find that you end up falling in love with it! The two go hand in hand.
What is your biggest challenge when it comes to your vegan diet, and how do you deal with it on a daily basis?
The biggest challenge would have to be the social aspect. It’s hard to strike a balance between being that token vegan friend who can’t eat anything when you’re out and totally going with the flow and not mentioning your dietary restrictions. Because of the difficult nature of eating out on a plant-based vegan diet, I’ve had to make sure I am surrounded by very supportive people. Certain people get annoyed when you make a huge lifestyle change that doesn’t align with the way they live their life, and if it becomes an issue, I’ve had to learn to let some people go. Once you adopt veganism as a lifestyle and you get used to the changes that come along with it, the people in your life get used to it as well. Things that were challenging in the beginning are much easier now. Oh, and I’ve learned to plan ahead! I always bring snacks with me, especially if I know I am going to be in a situation where there is not going to be a whole lot for me to eat.
What made you decide to blog about the lifestyle you’re choosing to live?
I started an Instagram account to share my food photos when I first got really into vegan cooking. There was such an outpouring of support on Instagram, and my following grew pretty quickly. At a certain point it became apparent to me that I needed an outlet to share the recipes and to share tips and tricks that I had learned along the way by living a vegan lifestyle. That’s where the blog stemmed from, but it has evolved into so much more. Now I share quite a bit of my personal life on the blog, restaurant reviews, yoga details, Q&A’s with industry professionals, and my struggles with stomach problems. You name it—it’s on there. The blog has become such an incredible personal space for me. Not to mention, I love to write, so it ended up being a very natural fit!
For many people, food is the centerpiece of their social life. How do you manage to keep your cool and maintain your vegan lifestyle without compromising your social life?
It can definitely be a challenge. I’ve had to learn (through major trial and error) that going out to eat with friends is so much more about the company than about the food itself. It can kind of suck to be that girl who shows up and only orders water or a side salad with no dressing, but you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do and there’s no sense in paying for a meal that you’re not going to be able to enjoy. I have learned to plan ahead and eat beforehand if I know there isn’t going to be anything for me at a restaurant. But I have made it a big point to never allow my veganism to deter me from doing things with my friends. I go to all the same places with them that I would have gone before; I just steer clear of the food aspect!
And I’ve also found that people are inclined to follow by example, so a lot of my friends have developed the “healthy bug” after watching my lifestyle transformation. That has been fun for me because I get to take them to healthy restaurants and try fun vegan or vegetarian spots with them. We like to do a trade off. If we go out to a nice “regular” restaurant one night, the next time they will try a healthier place with me. It’s all about finding a balance.
How is your blog different from the slew of other foodie/health blogs, and what do you hope to do by journaling your experiences online?
My blog is different in a few ways. First, I make it a huge priority to respond to each and every one of the comments and emails I receive. When people first realize that I do this, they are pretty blown away. I receive several hundred emails per day and usually even more comments. I think that the purpose of a blog is all about the interaction and the communicative aspects. I have never wanted to be closed off to my blog readers, and I always want them to know that I am available to answer their questions and help them reach their goals. I think that has something to do with the fact that my blog stemmed from my Instagram, which is such a personal space. I want my readers to feel like we are in conversation. Anything goes! Another way in which my blog is different is that it goes beyond the recipe creation. I discuss everything from my stomach issues and disordered eating struggles to posting interviews with my favorite authors and health bloggers. I try to make the vibe as community-oriented as possible. By journaling my experiences online, I hope to continue connecting with like-minded individuals and growing my brand. Eventually I would love to expand to the point where the blog will be my full-time job. I just launched my t-shirt line, I am in the process of creating an app, and ultimately I want to write a book. The blog is the home base for all of those projects and goals.
What are your top three favorite super-foods?
Cacao (total chocoholic over here), maca powder (energy boost!), and coconut shreds. I’m obsessed with all three.
Any advice for aspiring bloggers?
Blog about what you love, and you can’t go wrong. If you are madly passionate and excited about your topic, that will shine through in your writing and your readers will love it. Invest in a good camera, because photos are worth a million words on the internet. You can link the photos to Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram and start driving traffic to your blog from those different outlets. And reach out to other people in the blogging community who are writing about similar things! Collaborations are huge. The blog community is an incredibly supportive one. Don’t hesitate to ask others for advice. Finally, be consistent. The more often you post, the better!
The Blonde Vegan Interview originally appeared in Cliché Magazine’s June/July 2014 issue.
Images courtesy of Tynan Daniels