Kristen Doute has lived her life out loud for five seasons on Vanderpump Rules. However, one thing you might not know about the Vanderpump Rules pal is that she's been a vegetarian for the past 22 years, which is a lifestyle she decided to adopt during one visit to Florida to see her grandparents. "I was 11 years old. I was in sixth grade. I wanted to be a marine biologist, and I wanted to save all the animals and I couldn’t imagine eating these animals anymore," she told The Daily Dish. "I made the decision overnight, and that’s it."
Kristen said she stopped eating meat right then and there, and she's never looked back."It’s not for everyone and I understand that. But I do think the younger you can teach people to be healthy, it’ll just become a part of their day-to-day rather than trying to change them later on. I don’t believe in eating fast food. I think it’s just really important to know what you’re putting in your body because of the effect it has on your health and even your appearance."
Now Kristen is bringing all of the lessons, recipes, and tips that she has amassed in those two decades to the world through her new vegetarian cuisine-centric website, Vegiholic, which launched earlier this month, but it's a project that she's been working on for about a year. "I’m a huge foodie and I love cooking and I love going shopping. It’s a craft and there’s an art to it," Kristen said. "I really love the idea that anyone can eat that way. This isn’t a website that’s for vegetarians only. My boyfriend [Brian Carter], he eats meat, but we’re living together and obviously I’m not going to cook that way. He’s found a much healthier lifestyle through me. The same with all of my friends."
The website is currently divided into three sections: Recipes (featuring healthy and delish-looking dishes, from sauces to soups to "steaks"), Recommendations (for restaurants that offer more than just a side salad, according to Kristen), and Rants (where she shares "stuff that I’m just like, 'Ugh, I have to get this out of my system,'" such as a post on body shaming, which has been a hot topic this season of Vanderpump Rules as well).
Kristen said her biggest challenge in putting together the website has been coming up with recipes that others can easily follow and enjoy since she doesn't have a professional culinary background. "I’m not a personal chef. When I cook typically or I’m creating a recipe, I’m throwing things together until I get it right in my opinion or the way I want it to taste," she explained. "I think that was the biggest feat to overcome was being able to write recipes so someone else could make it with serving sizes and things like that. I’m still learning. I’m doing recipes that I think are really easy."
But Kristen is putting her own unique twist on these recipes as well, and it's very Vanderpump Rules. "Everyone knows I love a good cocktail and I love wine. [The name Vegiholic is] a little bit of a play on that," she explained. "I definitely throw that in when I’m writing recipes like, 'You should try it with this kind of wine or this kind of a cocktail' or whatever."
Kristen said she hopes that people discover the variety of vegetarian cooking through the website as well. "I think the biggest mistake that people make, which I have, as well, in the past, is immediately assuming that you need to substitute whatever meat is in your meal with a soy product or what I call vegetarian junk food. A lot of people, I think that’s the first thing they turn to is eating a veggie burger for every meal. You have to be really careful with these frozen foods that are very processed and not very good for your digestive system all the time," she shared her advice for eating vegetarian. "I really think it’s just being super open-minded and being willing to try something at least twice and not getting stuck in that path that you don’t like certain vegetables or that sounds really boring. It’s not. It’s all about seasoning and trying new things."
Friend Chef Jeanine Carter recently climbed aboard the Vegiholic team to lend her expertise. "I’m very fortunate to have a really good friend of mine. Her name is Jeanine Carter. She’s a private chef here in L.A. She’s just joined the site with me as an author," Kristen said. "Having her expertise with my opinions and the lifestyle that I live every day, I think it’s really cool for the readers."
Kristen has also enlisted the help of her boyfriend to lend his photography skills to the website. Yes, that's one reason why those recipe photos look so mouthwatering. "I feel extremely fortunate, my boyfriend's a photographer. When I first started the blog, Katie Maloney, she has Pucker & Pout, her beauty blog, she said that I have what she calls the secret weapon to being a successful blogger because my boyfriend is a photographer," Kristen gushed. "We’re able to shoot every single day in everything that we do. I love that he and I get to work on this project together."
As for her fellow blogger Katie, Kristen said she has only felt support and not competition from her castmate now that they've both trying to make a name for themselves on the web. "I call Katie about different photo questions or her opinion on wording something," Kristen said. "She knows how to make a successful blog. So I think it's really great to have her as a mentor."
For now, most of the writing on the blog, which she described as "feisty," is coming from Kristen. "As far as writing on the blog, it strangely came from doing [Vanderpump Rules], and it’s helped me so much, and kind of being able to verbalize my feelings and my thoughts," she said of finding this new passion. "It’s really fun to be able to talk to these readers as if I was having a phone conversation with them like this or sitting down face-to-face and speaking to them in that way."
But looking toward the future, Kristen said she hopes to bring in more authors and possibly even organize events out in the world like food crawls. "It’s really, I just think, spreading the word about healthy eating and getting the younger kids to try [eating vegetarian]," Kristen said of her goals for the blog. "It just makes me really stoked."
Clearly, we have much to learn from Kristen. Watch and learn how she paints the town red with Stassi Schroeder, below.