Jessica Ryle is the founder of Vegan Outdoor Adventures, an online resource for vegan outdoor enthusiasts. A vegetarian for 6 years and a vegan for 7, she has always had a strong connection with animals, as well as the desire to invest in products that align with her values.
Vegan Outdoor Adventures was born out of frustration over the process of finding a pair of vegan hiking boots. Jessica began to contact gear companies and compile lists of vegan gear to cut out the tedious research for others.
It can seem daunting to extend your compassionate lifestyle into outdoor activities… But it’s possible, and so satisfying when you find the right gear that matches with your lifestyle.
Vegan Outdoor Adventures now offers a seasonally curated subscription box filled with Jessica’s favorite vegan products and snacks. Learn more in our interview below, including Jessica’s advice for finding vegan outdoor gear!
Shoestring Warrior: Jessica
Glen Falls, NY
Glen Falls, NY
Waitress / Owner of VeganOutdoorAdventures.com
What are your passions outside of work?
I love hiking, running, snuggling animals, eating all the vegan food and drinking soy lattes.
How would you describe your level of camping experience?
Intermediate. While I’ve had some great experience, I definitely am always learning.
Tell us about yourself!
I live in Upstate New York with my boyfriend, dog and five cats. My first hike was in grade school with some friends, but I didn’t really catch the bug until I was an adult. I hiked my first two Adirondack High Peaks almost 10 years ago, and I was hooked. I’m working on becoming a 46er and should be able to finish in the next couple of years. I also run Ragnar Relay races with Strong Hearts Vegan Power, an all vegan running team with members from all over the country.
When did you become vegan? What inspired you to make the change?
I’ve been vegan for 7 years and was vegetarian for 6 years before that. I’ve always had a very strong connection to animals, and I came to a point in my life where I started really seeing the way we treat animals. It was deeply troubling, and I decided that I couldn’t be a part of it anymore.
Can you describe Vegan Outdoor Adventures? What motivated you to create it?
Vegan Outdoor Adventures started as a resource for vegan outdoor enthusiasts. I was having a difficult time finding a new pair of vegan hiking boots at the time. Product descriptions sometimes leave out things like a small strip of suede, and none of them mention whether or not glues used are synthetic. I figured if I was this frustrated, so were a lot of other people. So I decided to contact gear companies and compile lists of vegan gear, like hiking boots, hiking socks, trail runners, climbing shoes, sleeping bags, insulated jackets, to cut out the hard part for others. Since then, the site has grown to include guest posts by other vegan adventurers as well as gear reviews. We also sell VOA shirts and our newest service, the Seasonal Box. Four times a year, you can purchase a box filled with 5-8 vegan snacks & products to use on your next outing. It’s a really fun way to introduce people to my favorite items.
Has being vegan created any limits for you as an outdoor enthusiast? How have you overcome those limits?
Being vegan has definitely limited me as far as which clothing and gear is available to me. There are options for everything, but the research is the tough part. Once the research is done, the fun part begins, and making sure that I spend my money on items that don’t contain animal products is really important to me. I have to say, I don’t feel limited in terms of what activities I can do with vegan gear. I hike all year long and have camped in the winter as well. Winter is my favorite season to be in the mountains, and my gear keeps me warm and safe.
What is your favorite vegan product to bring on the trail?
What is your go-to vegan backpacking or camping meal?
For car camping, I love a good vegan chili cheese dog. Roast Smart Dogs over the fire, and top them with some Good To-Go Smoked Three Bean Chili and Nacheez Dairy Free Nacho Sauce. Perfect! It’s my favorite meal to eat in the woods, but I’ve yet to try it on a backpacking trip. I had a delicious dehydrated vegan mac & cheese from Outdoor Herbivore, which was a cinch to make while backpacking by boiling water with my MSR MicroRocket stove.
What advice do you have for those who want to maintain a vegan lifestyle in the outdoors?
It can seem daunting to extend your compassionate lifestyle into outdoor activities. There’s so much gear made of leather, wool and down. And so much research to find great quality products made without those things. But it’s possible, and so satisfying when you find the right gear that matches with your lifestyle.
The perfect (vegan) s’more:
Dandies vegan marshmallows, Endangered Species Dark Chocolate bar (the Sea Salt & Almonds is my favorite) and graham crackers. No camping trip is complete without s’mores!
Photos © 2017 Vegan Outdoor Adventures
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