Sam Maron met the Appalachian Trail (AT) in eighth grade and fell for it, hard. He was at summer camp, where a four-day backpacking trip through the Maine end of the nearly 2200-mile path settled in his bones. Maron finally trekked the whole thing almost a decade later, hiking 12 to 20 miles per day for six months in 2009. But when Maron finally did it, he wasn't eating meat anymore. Or dairy. Or honey. Maron, now 26, is working toward a masters degree in environmental advocacy and social justice from Antioch University New England. He also runs the blog Backpacking Vegan to show it can be done.
Q. What called you back to the Appalachian Trail? And why vegan?
A. What appealed to me is that it is one interconnected wilderness experience that goes thousands of miles. You’re always in the environment, you’re always in nature. That doesn’t exist many places. I transitioned to being vegan in college. That was 2005. Definitely an interest in activism and wanting to live my life in a way that is less impactful to the Earth is the primary reason. The more I learned about the environmental and social impacts of the meat and dairy industries, the more strongly I felt that I didn’t want to be a part of it.
Q. How did you prepare for the AT?
A. When I was thinking about it in the years leading up to when I actually did it, I started researching [hiking vegan] and I couldn’t find anything about it. When I started hiking, I decided I was going to try as hard as I could. I also decided I was going to start with an open mind. It’s totally doable. It’s also a challenge, but it’s really important to me. Why would I compromise something that’s important to me when I wanted to travel?
Q. Did you do this alone?