Writer Roanne van Voorst – first guest pilgrim on our route


At the end of February, writer Roanne van Voorst was the first guest pilgrim to embark on our pilgrimage route around Nijmegen. Roanne is co-writing our book On the Way to Wisdom, the first chapter of which will be published as an e-book on Saturday 3 September (more).

Roanne van Voorst
Writer Roanne van Voorst

I had started the Walk of Wisdom in the aftermath of a storm that swept across the country. The day before, just after I arrived in Nijmegen by train, street signs on the street tiles were shattered, worried café owners were removing fallen chairs from the terrace – one blew away, before it could be stopped, into the city water.

I slept lightly, that night, was awakened by a whizzing wind, and started the walk on a day for which gusts of scale ten were still predicted. I liked that: the storm would blow the deadlines out of my head; And then also the gnawing guilt about the nightly bottles of milk that my partner had fed to our daughter in the past few hours, without our hands interlocking in bed afterwards, as we used to do in a wordless gesture of gratitude: glad you went out this time, that hand means, I’ll do it later.

The future doesn’t exist yet

At the University of Amsterdam, Roanne van Voorst researches how people shape the future. Our choices and attitudes can have a big impact on what it will look like, says Roanne. “If I say that it doesn’t make sense anymore, that I can’t do anything about the climate crisis, for example, then you automatically won’t do anything anymore. The future doesn’t exist yet. I think it’s almost a responsibility to remain hopeful. That’s why I’m looking for solutions and I’m still hopeful” (more).

As a researcher and writer, she is alert to changes and trends that have the potential to grow into real transformations. One of those trends – which she says we’re in the middle of – is the rise of a plant-based diet. Whereas thirty years ago only a few million people worldwide did not eat meat, in 2015 there are already an estimated 750 million. There is a boom in initiatives to consume less meat and dairy, and the range of meat substitutes and dairy alternatives has exploded in a short period of time. Most people who switch to a plant-based diet in whole or in part are young, which means that the trend can quickly intensify.

Once upon a time, we ate animals

What’s going on here? Roanne wonders in her book Once We Ate Animals. As a good anthropologist, she also includes her own experience in the smoothly written book. She decides to go vegan and generously shares her struggle with how this choice affects her eating pattern and social contacts (dinners!).

Roanne van Voorst understands all too well why people look away from the figures of climate and animal activists. She did that herself. But her conclusion after thorough research is unequivocal: “it’s time to evolve“. According to her, our grandchildren will not understand why we kill other animals on such a large scale: more people die from war every week than in all of history. What do we say to those grandchildren when they ask why we continued to consume meat and dairy, in the full knowledge that manure, cow farts and the cutting down of forests – for livestock (food) – is one of the biggest drivers of the climate disaster?

More about Once upon a time we ate animals: link.

The Future of Love

Six in bed
Six in bed

In the meantime, Roanne van Voorst has written a new book: Met zijn zes in bed. About the future of love, which, according to her, is also changing at lightning speed.

Drugs are invented that can make or keep you in love, there are robots to have sex with, and there are fights for laws to marry more than two people. At the same time, there is a growing group of people who deliberately stay alone: the solo gamists.” (back cover).


Soon more about other guest pilgrims who contribute to our pilgrim book of hours On the Way to Wisdom.