Recently, I had the pleasure with chatting vegan and travel blogger (and vlogger) Christina Richards of cityloveee. We discussed our younger selves, favorite travel opportunities, and what inspired her to turn to veganism.
Q: So, while I stalked your site, I saw that you recently went backpacking across Europe (and I am incredibly envious.) Was there any specific place while over there that you truly felt a connection with? Perhaps you even had an encounter with someone who lived there who really touched you?
A: Absolutely. Barcelona has my heart. I’ve described it as a European version of the city I was raised in, but with a beach! So not only does it feel familiar, but it’s in Europe, a continent that has completely enveloped my life. Barcelona has so much diversity to what it has to offer. In regards to geography, it’s has a big city feel with a great beaches, and mountains but also is full of friendly neighborhoods with plazas that really create community. Barcelona has an independent, but family-like culture and is full of history and art which is something I’ve been learning to appreciate more. And as animal lover, I really enjoy how dog-friendly Barcelona is! What really helped me fall in love with Barcelona was spending time with our Airbnb host, Iain, who really gave us a local perspective of the city, which was priceless. I greatly encourage everyone to get out there comfort zones and make international friends which help you see the city you’re in and the world differently.
Now, here’s a biggie: what inspired you to go vegan? Do you honor your veganism as a belief system or a diet form?
It was a combination of a dietary choice and animal advocacy. I started to read a book not knowing it had a vegan message but it gave a no nonsense explanation to what exactly animal ingredients are. I concluded that animal ingredients are in a word, gross. Flesh, secretions, death. I didn’t want those things in my body so I decided to make the change immediately. Veganism has a learning curve that the longer you’re vegan, the more exposure you have to knowing how terrible the animal agriculture industry is. The time period when I became vegan was close to the time period where my boyfriend Keith and I adopted our German Shepherd/Siberian Husky, Timber. It just didn’t make sense for me to eat animals or have animals suffer to produce products anymore.
Veganism has value to every aspect of my life now. Not only is it a dietary choice but I also choose to buy cruelty-free, vegan beauty, my clothing isn’t made from animals, and I don’t participate in activities that exploit animals for our entertainment. I'm also vegan for environmental reasons. I've always been one to bring reusable bags or bike instead of drive, but veganism really helps lessen my impact on the earth.
What made you want to turn to vlogging and video form to share your life? Are there any users (vegan or not) who inspire your videos and style?
I didn’t realize there was a place for content creation on YouTube until recent years. I had been blogging and reading blogs and found that people were making videos to accompany their blog posts. I enjoyed watching their videos so much, I decided that I might have fun making my own. So after about a year of watching I uploaded my first video and was rolling out videos pretty slowly because it's a learning curve technically and emotionally. It also took me time to figure out what I wanted to say but as time went on, I really enjoyed making videos. I studied film in college so I’ve always had that interest in video and content creation so I’m happy I’m doing it more full force now. It’s something you get more comfortable with over time, if it’s something you truly enjoy.
I would say that the main women who inspired me to go onto YouTube were Claire Marshall and Estée Lalonde. They’re beauty YouTubers but I really enjoy their lifestyle vlogs. I love Claire’s work because she has a unique style and approach to her videos and has incredible editing skills. And Estée has a YouTube personality that I greatly admire. She is very true to herself and really just wants to be you’re online friend, which is something I strive to do with my content.
Vegan YouTubers who inspire me are Lauren & John of Hot for Food, Carly & Blake from we are MEATLESS, Tashina of Logical Harmony, and Rhian of WIFELIFE. All of them create unique, innovative videos that you don’t get from other vegan YouTubers.
What’s one life motif that you wish you could tell your eight year old self? Think deep here. What would really help your adult self battle through everything she has, had she known this idea beforehand?
It’s funny you ask me this now, because I’ve been thinking about my teenage and child self quite a bit lately. I just turned 27 and have been reflecting on my childhood expectations of myself and would get down on myself because I wasn't living up to those expectations. I’ve come to realize that my twenties do not look like the Friends episodes I was watching when I was eight. Life is a little more complicated & it does not resemble a TV show. I feel that my younger self had expectations to complete something in a certain timeframe but there is no way to know what life is going to throw at you. For example, I wish I wasn't so hard on myself for graduating from college in 6 years as opposed to 4. It's great to have life goals but don't be so hard on yourself when it doesn't go to plan.
What’s your favorite vegan meal to make? And what about to order when going out?
I LOVE Angela Liddon’s of Oh She Glows’ Avocado Pasta. It is so easy to make, delicious & it yields for two servings so it’s perfect for Keith & I. When I eat out, I like big salads, especially taco salads but I’m a sucker for burritos, burgers, and of course, pizza. It's easier for me to eat junk food like that when it's all plant-based!
Where is your next dream travel destination? Is it somewhere that you could see yourself living, or simply somewhere you need to check off your bucket list?
My next dream destination is Southeast Asia. It would make my recent travels that much more well-rounded to see more of another part of the world for an extended amount of time like our European backpacking trip. I also want to see more of Europe. Countries like Portugal, Croatia and Scotland all intrigue me. I also long to go back to Barcelona, it’s a city that Keith and I see ourselves living in.
When you find yourself feeling murky on the inside, and having trouble feeling like yourself, what releases the toxins for you? Do you prefer to be active when in a funk, or cuddle up and read?
I’m the type that cuddles up but I’m striving to make a change. I want to reach to yoga and meditation more when I’m feeling down, but I find myself just laying in bed watching Netflix or YouTube. I've been practicing guided meditation almost every morning. I use the Rituals app which gives you an audio guided meditation that will relax your body, mind or “enjoy the moment” for 5, 10, 15 or 20 minutes. I highly suggest it!
And to finish off, do you have any projects in the works for you and your brand? Secrets? Dreams? What’s shining in your future for cityloveee?
Keith and I have been working on vegan itinerary guides to different European cities. We want to guide everyone, but specifically vegan, compassionate travelers around a city. There’s an understandable fear of traveling as a vegan and we want to assure you that it’s not as hard as you think. So we’ve be creating digital (printable) guides so you can have all of the information in your back pocket! And of course expect more vegan travel guides in the form of blog posts and videos on cityloveee.com!
Photo Credit: Christina Richards
I’m a strong believer in the law of attraction, which is why I try to radiate only positivity into the universe. What you give out will be returned to you, so I strive to only give my best. My ultimatum in life is to help others. I plan to live through that idea by studying to become a pediatric psychologist, something I’ve been writing down in surveys since age 10. No matter the occasion or what I’m going through, I always feel a sense of security through writing. I drift towards writing poetry, but can find myself going off for three pages worth of my journal at times as well. The matter of being able to let whats going on inside flow from hand to paper is such a beautiful thing in my opinion.