Where to begin?
My name is Matt. I've been vegan for just over a month, actually since the week of Robert's Holiday Festival, which I attended. I was lacto-ovo vegetarian for about a month and a half before that, but I couldn't stand doing anything half-assed.
I was "converted" by a professor of philosophy at the university I started attending this year. Initially I claimed that it was for health reasons (there's a history of diabetes in my family) and for environmental reasons... and I still try to stick to that argument when I'm questioned about it... but I find that the longer I go without animal products the sicker I feel when I see someone else consuming them, or see ads for them, or am subjected to conversations about hunting, etc.
So... now that I've started an environmental activism group on campus (to more or less overthrow the inactive one that already existed) and started veganizing the cafeteria (I had a meeting with the head chef who has given me a list of new vegan options that will be available next term), I have one new goal that I'm tossing around inside my head.
I want to walk across the U.S. under some sort of eviro/vegan context. Of course, I have about 4 years of schooling ahead of me at least, and as this trek will take several months I won't be able to give it a shot until after I graduate. That just means I have 4 years to train for it.
I've already come a long way. I've lost 60 pounds in the past year. At the end of June I made an attempt at walking from my house to a friend's house about 19 1/2 miles away. I make it about 14 miles before I ran out of water and had to stop for fear of dehydration (that, and because of the immense amount of pain I was in). I did this with absolutely no training or preparation of any kind... and I paid for it. I was bed-ridden for the next 24 hours and in a great deal of pain for several days after that. Blisters persisted for several weeks. I tried to avoid moving my legs at all costs and when I did move them I literally had to pick them up with my hands and place them where I wanted them (and wince in pain the whole while).
Then, in August, as a kick off to the school year I went on a backpacking trip with some other incoming freshmen. A trek that was supposed to last 4 days and just over 20 miles only ended up taking 2 days. I ran out of water again on the first day and had to steal some from everybody else because the first two streams where we were supposed to be able to refill were dried up (and I've noticed that my body is really inefficient at using water). We had to push ourselves a lot farther the first day than anticipated to get to a source of water. The steep incline was hell on my underworked legs, but this time I managed to get through the trip with no blisters (though, I did lose a toenail). On the downside I had to take painkillers for the first time in over two years to make sure I could keep up with everyone else.
Right now I'm walking about 2 miles a day (though, the cold weather the last week or two has been deterring me). I'd like to gradually increase speed and distance so that I'm walking about 8-10 miles a day in hopefully under 2 hours. Hopefully quite a bit under 2 hours. I think that would be the biggest part of my actual physical training for the trip across the States.
My biggest concern is finding vegan/eco-friendly clothing for the trek. Any suggestions? I'm trying to avoid petrochemicals like polyester, though I looked at the Patagonia website and it looks like they have stuff that's make with recycled polyester, so I might think about that. Another alternative would be to buy second-hand stuff. I just don't have a lot of experience with buying eco-friendly vegan clothing since I haven't bought any clothes in the month that I've been vegan. And, I'll likely be in for a wide variety of conditions since it'll probably take me somewhere between 4-10 months to complete the journey. Maybe more than that... I'm trying not to overestimate my abilities like I did on my attempt to walk 20 miles in a single day (though that might not be as big of a problem for me now that my feet have thickened up and and I'm a little more used to the distance).
I'd also like to make arrangements to stay in vegan friendly households along the way... but I probably won't get that lucky. I guess we'll see as I start planning this thing over the next 4 years or so.