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Interview with Jacqueline Köster from Plantastybites

Back in my Uni days, I used to live on McDonalds Sausage and Bacon McMuffins, two-minute noodles, and chocolate. Nowadays, things are very different. I see students becoming more informed and more empowered, with choosing food that are not only good for them, but also for the environment. Such is Jacqueline Köster, the talent behind one of my favourite Instagram account, Plantastybites. She shared my passion for food photography and love for healthy plant-based foods that nourish the mind, body and soul.

In this interview, we talk about Jackie’s personal stories, and her amazing Instagram journey.

Hi Jackie, what did you have for breakfast this morning?

Cannot live without a bowl of oats in the morning, can I? So that’s what I had for breakfast: a bowl of my all-time favourite salted caramel oats!.

[Jackie’s breakfast bowl is always droolworthy by the way] ⇩⇩⇩

 

Oh my peelings! 🍊 Recipe below 👇🏼 As you might’ve seen on my stories, I got my wisdom teeth (all three that I own) removed today and I survived. He kinda did a quick job and removed them all in 15 minutes 😅 After all, im feeling alright until now, still a numb lip though. So glad I’ve had these ORANGE VANILLA OATS just yesterday and was surprised by how good they came out! Slightly sweet and fruity but welcomed warmly by the hint of vanilla – it’s been a dream all along! Recipe; 40g Oats 50ml freshly squeezed orange juice 150ml oat milk 1 tsp flax seeds 1/2 tsp vanilla powder Zest of 1/4 orange Combine all the ingredients in a medium sized pot and simmer until creamy and smooth! I topped my bowl with orange granola, sliced oranges, raisins and dark chocolate! 🍫🍊 Would love to share this bowl with my friend Jane @milkesbeforebreakfast for her #milesbeforebreakfast15k party! 🎉 Did you have your teeth removed already? I’m gladly up for any tips and tricks on how you recovered or what you ate after the removal? Please hit me up! I’ll be off to be somewhat lazy and recover for now, happy Tuesday ☺🧡 . . . . #vegan #veganism #veganfoodshare #whatveganseat #veganlifestyle #instafood #plantbased #foodporn #feedfeed #feedfeedvegan @thefeedfeed #thrivemags #govegan #veganinspo #vegansofig #letscookvegan #bestofvegan #veganbreakfast #whatveganseat #oatmeal #porridge #oats #veganbowls #orange #granola #veganrecipes #chocolate #veganchocolate #vegandeutschland

A post shared by Jacky | GER (@plantastybites) on

 

Now, tell us something about you that most people might not know?

I have a slight addiction with nail polish. I own about two racks, though I am not that creative as I used to be. I actually had an Instagram account doing nail art a while back.

If you had a superpower, what would that be, and why?

Does eating tons and tons of chocolate and not gaining weight & damaging my body count as a superpower? If it does, I’d definitely go with this one. If not, I guess I’d love to be able to fly. Seeing the world from another perspective sounds quite appealing to me.

What is your earliest childhood memory?

Oh, that is a hard one. I don’t think I can remember which memory has to be the earliest.

What was your favourite subject in School?

My favourite subject in school used to be sports or biology. I liked being active but also found the insights on how our body and our environment functions incredibly interesting.

What does a typical day in your world look like?

As a Uni student, I don’t think my day in my life is that interesting. I usually get up around 8 and stretch a little to wake up my body. After that, I’m getting started with whatever is written on my to-do list.

Mostly, it consists of going to classes, getting more work done for Uni, my job and also running the usual errands.

I tend to have breakfast around 12 and if I have enough free time that day, I try to arrange my breakfast nicely in order to take pictures for Instagram. In the afternoon, I continue with what is still left on my list & on my schedule for the day but also love to hit the gym twice a week, only going for an hour long cardio session. After dinner, I love to take some time for myself and relax, whether it is watching a movie, scrolling through Instagram or talking to friends.

 

Oh my peelings! 🍊 Recipe below 👇🏼 As you might’ve seen on my stories, I got my wisdom teeth (all three that I own) removed today and I survived. He kinda did a quick job and removed them all in 15 minutes 😅 After all, im feeling alright until now, still a numb lip though. So glad I’ve had these ORANGE VANILLA OATS just yesterday and was surprised by how good they came out! Slightly sweet and fruity but welcomed warmly by the hint of vanilla – it’s been a dream all along! Recipe; 40g Oats 50ml freshly squeezed orange juice 150ml oat milk 1 tsp flax seeds 1/2 tsp vanilla powder Zest of 1/4 orange Combine all the ingredients in a medium sized pot and simmer until creamy and smooth! I topped my bowl with orange granola, sliced oranges, raisins and dark chocolate! 🍫🍊 Would love to share this bowl with my friend Jane @milkesbeforebreakfast for her #milesbeforebreakfast15k party! 🎉 Did you have your teeth removed already? I’m gladly up for any tips and tricks on how you recovered or what you ate after the removal? Please hit me up! I’ll be off to be somewhat lazy and recover for now, happy Tuesday ☺🧡 . . . . #vegan #veganism #veganfoodshare #whatveganseat #veganlifestyle #instafood #plantbased #foodporn #feedfeed #feedfeedvegan @thefeedfeed #thrivemags #govegan #veganinspo #vegansofig #letscookvegan #bestofvegan #veganbreakfast #whatveganseat #oatmeal #porridge #oats #veganbowls #orange #granola #veganrecipes #chocolate #veganchocolate #vegandeutschland

A post shared by Jacky | GER (@plantastybites) on

Tell us about your journey with Plantastybites

My journey with Plantastybites started in early January 2017, so about a year ago and a lot has happened since then. Not only has it grown a wonderful community, but I also got to know so many lovely people and even made friends in real life. All through this platform.

The continuous support is unbelievable and I love sharing my passion with every single one who is interested to become a part. Starting Plantastybites has been one of the best decision I made in 2017 and I am so incredibly grateful for the path it is leading me. I am excited to see what this year holds for Plantastybites.

What are some of your goals and vision with Plantastybites?

That is always kind of a funny question. I mean we all have goals and would love to take this somewhere, but I also try to not set my goals too high and keep them realistic.

Surely, we need something we can strive to reach, but I also know that this year is packed with getting my degree so I might need to take a little step back.

What I would really love to do is start a blog and share my recipes on there, so it’ll be easier for people to read. Other than that, I am kind of just going with the flow, excited to see where it is going to take me!

 

Oh my peelings! 🍊 Recipe below 👇🏼 As you might’ve seen on my stories, I got my wisdom teeth (all three that I own) removed today and I survived. He kinda did a quick job and removed them all in 15 minutes 😅 After all, im feeling alright until now, still a numb lip though. So glad I’ve had these ORANGE VANILLA OATS just yesterday and was surprised by how good they came out! Slightly sweet and fruity but welcomed warmly by the hint of vanilla – it’s been a dream all along! Recipe; 40g Oats 50ml freshly squeezed orange juice 150ml oat milk 1 tsp flax seeds 1/2 tsp vanilla powder Zest of 1/4 orange Combine all the ingredients in a medium sized pot and simmer until creamy and smooth! I topped my bowl with orange granola, sliced oranges, raisins and dark chocolate! 🍫🍊 Would love to share this bowl with my friend Jane @milkesbeforebreakfast for her #milesbeforebreakfast15k party! 🎉 Did you have your teeth removed already? I’m gladly up for any tips and tricks on how you recovered or what you ate after the removal? Please hit me up! I’ll be off to be somewhat lazy and recover for now, happy Tuesday ☺🧡 . . . . #vegan #veganism #veganfoodshare #whatveganseat #veganlifestyle #instafood #plantbased #foodporn #feedfeed #feedfeedvegan @thefeedfeed #thrivemags #govegan #veganinspo #vegansofig #letscookvegan #bestofvegan #veganbreakfast #whatveganseat #oatmeal #porridge #oats #veganbowls #orange #granola #veganrecipes #chocolate #veganchocolate #vegandeutschland

A post shared by Jacky | GER (@plantastybites) on

Can I say that you’re killing it on Instagram! You’ve grown your audience rapidly in such a short time. What are your top 5 tips for people who want to reach more people on Insta and grow their audience?

To be honest, I am still learning myself every single day. But what I have found to be really important is:

  1. Be yourself. This Instagram account is your account and don’t try to be someone you’re not. People like authenticity and get to know who you really are.
  2. Find your style. And don’t just copy what everybody else is doing. Find what works best for you and what you can truly connect with.
  3. Connect. I think this is definitely one of the best ways to grow your audience, by connecting. Comment on pictures if it’s something you like, read the captions because some people pour their heart and soul into them.
  4. Community. Maybe point 3 and 4 kind of belong together, but building a community and making friends is where it’s at. Not only can you support each other but being part of the community is what makes Instagram so worth it for me! I wouldn’t have met some of the people I talk to on a daily basis if it wasn’t for the Instagram community.
  5. Be active but also take some time off. For myself, I don’t like to follow people who only post once per week or even less but that might also just be my personal opinion. So being active and connecting with people throughout the week is important. On the other hand, you don’t need to stress about posting daily. We all have to handle our everyday life and taking some time off the social media sides is important to focus on what’s most important in life. And life happens outside the virtual world.   

 

What is your favourite food to make?

That’s easy – oatmeal. I don’t know what it is that I love so much about them, but I have them for breakfast almost every single day and I don’t get tired of them.

If you could invite 3 people (historical or current) to a dinner party who would they be?

I am addicted to music so I would love to meet a few of my all-time favorites.

  • Ed Sheeran
  • Harry Styles
  • P!nk

And what would you serve? 

I think in that case I would make an exception of my go to lazy vegan dinner meals and think of a nice three course vegan meal, serving up ‘cheesy’ vegetable sticks as a starter, a Buddha bowl buffet with tahini dressing and some chocolate covered cinnamon buns for dessert.

Where is your favourite place to travel, and why?

I haven’t travelled a lot in my life and have never been out of Europe. So, I wish I had something more exciting to say than London or Berlin, but somehow, these cities have stolen my heart. It’s that feeling that you can be whoever you want to be, do whatever you want to do and find yourself amongst creative people that make the vibes in these two cities so incredibly captivating.

You are going to be stranded on an island and could only bring three things with you, what would they be?

A knife. A hat. My Yoga mat.

What is your guilty pleasure?

Dates with any kind of nut butter. But also, banana and nut butters are too good to be true. And dates or banana with chocolate and nut butter? The ultimate experience!

What’s the best thing about being you right now?

The best thing about being myself right now is being myself. I think it is so important to find out who you are so you can shine from within and enjoy life to the fullest. I don’t think there is anything rarer, or more beautiful, than you being unapologetically yourself, comfortable in all your perfect imperfections.

What are your plans for the rest of the year?

Getting my degree and finding out what I am going to do afterward. It is not going to be an easy year and I am sure it will come with its up and downs, but I am ready to see what will happen and to end it on a positive note, I believe I can do anything, as long as I set my mind to it, so fingers crossed for 2018 to be a good one!

Millenials – the new generation of dreamers, disruptors, authentic and brave souls who are going to change the world. Case in point, Jackie!

If you’d like to stay up-to-date with Jackie and get inspired to make delicious vegan food,  follow her along at www.instagram.com/plantastybites

Yours,

Keren

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Loving the skin you’re in – with Jessica Anwyl

Jess Anwyl

I love people. I love connecting with them, listening to their stories, and learning from their experiences. There are some amazing humans out there who I really would like to get to know better.

So this year I thought I would do an interview post once a month, with people who inspire me. People who have amazing skills, knowledge and experience to share. People who are not afraid to talk about their own struggles and challenges. Real people like you and I. Most of them are my friends, people I come to admire, and people with interesting stories to tell.  I hope there is something in each post that makes you think, ponder, or better yet, take action. We’re all in this together.

For our first interview post this year I’d like to introduce you to Jess. Jess is a skin and gut survivor, wellness writer, and founder of In The Ra — a personal blog that shares raw and real stories of how to love the skin you’re in and heal yourself with wholefoods.

I got to know Jess through a Mastermind Group called The Pack run by George Siosi Samuel. I still remember being super impressed by Jess when she did a Tough Mudder (a popular mud and obstacles run in Australia), after a 16-day water fast! Not only is she an expert in juicing and fasting, she is also a talented copywriter, photographer, and a kickass interviewer. I’m just so honoured to have Jess sharing her story here on this blog.

In this interview, we talk about Jess’ personal stories, her gut and skin journey, and her growing community In The Ra.

Hi Jess, what did you have for breakfast this morning?

A chocolate banana smoothie.
[Thought I’d share this choc smoothie bowl recipe Jess posted on Instagram so you get an idea of the type of ‘smoothie’ she’s talking about] ⇩⇩⇩

Sticking with chocolate tradition this Easter Friday. This chocolate smoothie bowl is more of a choc Macca moussey bowl. She’s yummy! Let’s have choccy for brekky! This recipe combines banana, cacao, macca and avocado to make the ultimate hormone balancer and mood booster! 1 frozen banana 2 tbsp cacao 1 tsp cacao nibs 3 medjool dates 1 tsp macca powder 1/2 avocado 2 tsp chia, psyllium husk and flaxseed meal (each) 1/2 Apple (Yes that’s a lot of fibre! #howweroll ) 1 tbsp coconut yogurt 1/2 cup coconut water 1/2 cup non dairy milk (I used organic soy today) Blend until moussey smooth. Then top with your choice of fruits, nuts and seeds. At the moment I’m drawn to pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts, apples and berries (all skin loving). And today I also added my “choc dirt” 😉 It’s sooo good! I was hoping to have a healthy chocolate hot cross bun recipe (vegan and GF) ready for you guys but couldn’t find a recipe even close so it was a total experiment. And I’ll admit it failed in a way…They turned out like chocolate rock cakes but delicious as a crumbly chocolate over icecream and mousse 😍 (see my instastories). Anyway…maybe next time 😜 Enjoy your moussey smoothie bowl breakfast for tomorrow 😋🤤 #eastereats Xx Jess

A post shared by Jessica Anwyl (@in.the.ra) on Now, I believe there are some fun facts about your name Jess. Do share.

My full name is Jessica Robin Anwyl. There’s a funny story behind my last name. An uncommon name in Australia, but very common in whales. It’s Welsh and is often obscure enough for people to ask me how it’s pronounced. I pronounce it softly and the way my father first told me.

Though recently when I was in Pai Thailand I met a Welsh girl. I told her my last name, but she said she’d never heard of it. I was shocked! So I insisted she knew and repeated it. She gave me this deadpan look, and I went silent — a tad disappointed.

“How’s it spelled?” she asked.

“A-N-W-Y-L.” I said.

“Oh! Anwyl! I know that name.” She said it back to me, but it in a way that was completely unrecognisable, and quite frankly painful to my ears.

That was the day I realised I didn’t know how to say my own name, AND I’ve been correcting people INCORRECTLY for 25 years!

Now when people ask me “how do you pronounce your name?”

I tell them the truth, that “I don’t know”.

I totally sympathise, until I was 11 years old I had been incorrectly correcting my name to Karen. It wasn’t until I told my mother that her spelling of my name (i.e. Keren) was wrong that she showed the verse in the bible where my name was taken from to show me that my name is in fact Keren, not Keren!

Now, tell us something about you that most people might not know?

This is a hard one as I try to be transparent under the small limelight I’m in. One surprising thing people might not know about me is I’ve had 3 close calls with death in the last three years and I’m only 25. First, from an acute illness, then a chronic illness and more recently in an accident.

If you had a superpower, what would that be, and why?

The ability to communicate with anyone. Not just to converse in their language, but to connect on a level where each person felt understood. I feel that that’s a real a superpower. Because it’s the way we’ll change the world.

Jess Anwyl

What is your earliest childhood memory?

I had two sisters growing up (now I have three) and in the early days we didn’t get along. Until we had an important reason to band together, i.e., to steal my dad’s shoe horn. Let me explain…

Back when it was okay to hit kids, my dad kept this plastic, yellow shoehorn on top of the fridge. That’s what he used to hit us with. I don’t remember being hit with it, only the point where we were sick of it. I remember my sisters and I going on this brave mission, and making this elaborate (at the time) plan to distract my dad and construct our own ladder to retrieve it, and a plan to dispose of the shoe horn. We even made sure we corroborated our stories. It was the wildest fun! My dad was furious but, us sisters, we bonded over it.

A post shared by Jessica Anwyl (@in.the.ra) on Do you have a favourite subject in School?

I was not keen on school. I liked to socialise, play sport, write, but on my own terms. I was stubborn, but if I had to choose a subject, it would have been biology because I loved my teacher.

Where is your favourite place to travel, and why?

Anywhere with fresh produce! Haha. This may seem childish but what makes me happiest is when I see people coming together, growing, selling and connecting out in nature over fresh food.

What does a typical day in your world look like?

Different places, different spaces. The thing that stays the same and smoothies, me and my laptop. I’m a writer, so I write and it doesn’t matter where.

A post shared by Jessica Anwyl (@in.the.ra) on Tell us about your journey with In The Ra

Well, about 15 months ago things were looking pretty dim in my world. I had been diagnosed with a severe and rare skin condition called Rosacea Fulminan (RPOB), SIBO (a gut condition) and couldn’t eat anything without having a severe reaction. It got to a point where I was so allergic to food that I had to stop eating altogether. I lost a lot of weight, weighing in at 44 kilos.

If not eating wasn’t bad enough, the skin on my face was also debilitating. Completely swollen and unrecognisable, with black scabs all over my face. If wet, it was like an open wound and the skin would literally wash away — it was no longer a barrier. The skin was so dry and painful, I couldn’t smile, pluck my eyebrows or bathe. I looked like a monster, so I didn’t go out in public for 3+ months.

In my vulnerable, desperate and scared state, I reached out to my specialists one last time. To be told I was a complex case and that I would never get better.

But I couldn’t accept that! So I decided to leave all my health practitioners behind and heal myself naturally. And as I improved (scary as it was) I was called to show my face, share my story, and my healing journey, in real time. That’s when I started The Ra.

I have to say that I’m a big fan of your blog Jess, even though I don’t have a skin condition. The issue with shame and not feeling good enough with your own skin is so relatable on so many levels. What are some of your goals and vision for In The Ra?

In The Ra started off as a safe place for me to be seen. Now In The Ra is a story sharing platform to help others be seen and have the courage to see themselves.

It’s specifically tailored to those suffering with skin and gut conditions, but I know the messages resonate with a wider audience, because we share fundamental and timeless truths.

I feel that In The Ra message has a lot more to give. Soon, we will be working in collaboration with The Genyus Network to help women with skin conditions connect and share their stories as a community.

Eventually, I hope to be speaking and spreading this message, story and inspiration with courses, books and more.

I love how your blogpost is always so beautifully written and captivating, what are your top tips for people who want to write better.

There are two ways I write, when inspiration strikes, and when a topic is requested.

When inspiration strikes I just go for it. I get everything down on the page. When you’re in flow, go. You can always edit it after. Once you’ve got it all out, think about who’ll read this. How can this help them? What might they glean from your writing? After answering this read it over again and shape it for them. No one likes anything that’s too me, me, me. Your story is powerful, but only when it’s shaped for the reader.

When a topic is requested or I’m writing an A to your Q, I first write the purpose of my post.

For example: This post will outline how to succeed on a juice fast.

This is your north star. It will keep you focused and on topic.

Then I write down all the key points and ideas, write them out in order of why (the reason it’s important), what it is and how (if there is a practical element) to do it.

Quick tips would be:

  1. Keep looking back at your north star to see if you’re on point.
  2. Allow yourself to do a shitty first draft (without judgement)
  3. Ask yourself, could this be said simpler? How can I make this point more succinct and powerful?
  4. Back up what you say with science a story or a quote.

I’m so amazed at how confident you are with your videos and stories. And you do it while battling with your skin condition! How did you cultivate this confidence and how can we be more confident with the skin we’re in?

Such a great question! It’s interesting, because before my skin condition I was terrible in front of the camera, I hated it! Now I look back at those photos and videos and think, “what the heck? You were beautiful!”

The truth is, now I’m confident on camera because I’m allowing myself to be seen. Before, when my flaws we’re not physical, I was worried about showing myself, making a mistake and being judged for my internal flaws and insecurities. I was holding back.

Now I’m all good because I’m all in. My flaws and me are all on show so there’s nothing to hide or be scared of. At first though, it was scary, but like anything, the more you do it the more confident you become.

Plus, When we hide we cultivate shame.

That’s why being seen applies to overall confidence as well. The more we get out there and be seen doing a particular skill, sharing a particular view, or a particular side of ourselves, the more open and comfortable we become with that part.

Allow yourself to be seen and through this courage, your confidence will come.

If you could invite 3 people (historical or current) to a dinner party who would they be?

  1. Socrates, because wisdom.
  2. Matthew Hussey, because he’s a great communicator and thinker
  3. Marie Forleo, because she’s my female crush.

I love that you have Matthew Hussey on the list!… And what would you serve?

Is it naughty to say I’d get Uber eats? I feel Socrates’ mind would be blown. It’s a sure way to win him over! ;)

You are going to be stranded on an island and could only bring three things with you, what would they be?

  • For beauty — an aloe vera plant! Says any girl with a skin condition.
  • To write and create — my laptop with a solar charger.
  • To read for mental strength — Man’s Search for Meaning By Viktor Frankl

What is your guilty pleasure (if you have any)?

Books! Haha, when I say I’ve been on a bender my friends know I’ve just spent half my day buying books. It’s excessive…

What’s the most influential book (or books) you’ve read to date?

This is a tough one to answer. Some of the first books I ever read are ones that changed my life, but do not at all resonate with me now.

Here are my recent inspirations:

  • Unmasked By Turia Pitt – This book made me feel completely understood. It also gave me the courage to travel on my own with a severe skin condition.
  • So Good They Can’t Ignore You By Cal Newport – A key read for creatives who want to become successful. It debunks the passion hypothesis — the idea that you need to be passionate to be successful — instead proves that passion follows hard work, and often won’t precede it. It’s mind-blowingly thorough, well structured and practical. It’s close to becoming a “re-readable”.

I RARELY read books more than once. I may reference them, but for me to re-read an entire book is rare, it means they’re very valuable.

Here are my timeless “re-readables”:

  • The War of Art By Steven Pressfield – This taught me about resistance — that real art takes hard work. That “your calling” doesn’t always feel good, and that inspiration isn’t the only sign you’re on the right path. It’s one of those books you can open at any page and find an insight and inspiration to keep you going.
  • On the Shortness of Life By Seneca – Written by a stoic Italian philosopher in ancient times, but reads as if it were written today. Except for the random slave comment… This book hits some hard home truths. One is, “life is long if you know how to use it…it is not that we are given a short life, but we make it so…we are not ill supplied, but wasteful of it.” He goes on to explain how he thinks we can make our lives long.


Both these books are incredibly short, but powerful.

A post shared by Jessica Anwyl (@in.the.ra) on Do you have any exciting plans for this year?

I am excited to be ghostwriting a book, but I also want to write my own. It’s been a crazy-wonderful, dark, but delightful journey that needs to be shared. Hopefully it will have the similar effect on people that Turia’s ‘Unmasked’ had on me.

For In The Ra , we have interviews with skin, gut and health experts, as well as sharing raw and real stories of inspirational wellness warriors.

I’m not a massive visionary. I feel for the long-term and only can see in the short term. I know that if I follow my intuitive ideas and make the most of today, what I want will come.

I hope you enjoy this interview with Jess as much as I did. If you’d like to stay up-to-date with Jess and In The Ra, learn to love the skin you’re in, get inspired, heal yourself with wholefoods, or connect with Jess, sign up for email updates at www.inthera.com.au.

You can find Jess on:

Kerenx

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Cowspiracy – the secret impact of our food choices will shock you!

Cowspiracy_ScreeningPoster3

A while ago I attended the first screening of the documentary Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret

Cowspiracy is a shocking yet humorous documentary following the journey of a young environmentalist, Kip Anderson, as he seeks to find the real solution to environmental issues we face today. Kip ends up uncovering the most destructive industry facing the planet, and investigates why the world’s leading environmental organizations are too afraid to talk about it.

In the face of the confronting data Kip went looking for answers from all the major environment agencies. He found none.

Nobody wanted to speak up, and Kip’s funding for the movie was cut as no agencies were willing to support him once they knew where he was heading.

In Cowspiracy we see industries and government agencies advocating a variety of recommendations for reducing our environmental impact; including using ethanol-mixed petrol, driving less, reusing and recycling, or even paying for ‘greener’ air travel, among other initiatives. But how come no one tells us we can achieve the same end, if not to a greater extent, by eating less animal products?

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I need to be honest here. I’m not an environmentalist. I don’t carry reusable coffee cups, I don’t use my green bags every time I do grocery shopping, and you won’t see me wearing second hand clothes anytime soon.

The hard truth is that I’m as motivated to do something about the environment as much as I am about cleaning the house. Meaning: if I could get away without doing anything, I’d be glad.

I won’t do anything more than necessary to keep the house clean and I certainly would have someone else do the cleaning if I could. But that’s not to say I don’t care about the environment. As much as I hate vacuuming, I do it regularly to keep the house clean. Likewise, as much as I hate sorting my rubbish or paying more for environmental-friendly items, I do it as well because I need to, I have to. The planet Earth is my home, and I want to look after it as much as it has been looking after me all this time. After all, it’s your home, too!

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Information is a powerful thing. Knowledge is indeed power. Once you’ve learned something, you can’t unlearn it. And here are some of the many things I’ve learned about the environmental impact of food we eat through watching the movie Cowspiracy:

  • 30% of our dry land is being used for livestock production
  • Animal agriculture accounts for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation
  • Even without fossil fuels, we will exceed our 565 gigatonnes CO2 emission limit by 2030, all from raising animals for food
  • You need 4500 litres of water to produce a single 220g steak

When it comes to our surroundings, our meat, dairy and egg consumption has more of a negative impact upon the environment compared to any other earth-destroying activities that we do, including the burning of fossil fuels, landfill and our non-degradable synthetic materials like plastic.

How much water do you think is need to make enough beef for a humble beef-burger? How about enough water for a week long shower! 

One beef burger = 7 days of shower. That’s insane!

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If by eating less meat you could help reverse the damage the agriculture industry causes to the environment, would you do it?

If by swapping your eggs for beans and toast on your breakfast plate you could help arrest the destruction of our planet, would you do it?

If the simple act of changing your eating habits, no matter how small, could have a profound impact upon the environment, much more than any reduction in fossil fuels might accomplish, would you give it a try?

This movie will make you ask yourself those questions. It will open your eyes to some crazy facts that no one is telling you.

Don’t take my word for it, just like you shouldn’t take anyone’s word for anything. Watch the movie, do your own research and be an informed citizen. I promise the truth will shock and challenge you.

PS: Cowspiracy is now available on Netflix, thanks to Leonardo DiCaprio who, aside from being an awesome actor, is also a passionate environmental activist. If the movie is good enough for Leo to promote it to Netflix, I think it would be good enough for you to check out!

Watch it and let me know what you think!

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Be Kind To Animals Week And What It’s Like To Be A Young Vegan

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way it treats its animals.” Gandhi.

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Image courtesy of bekindtoanimalsweek.org.au

Be Kind To Animals Week is happening in Australia this 1 October to 7 October 2015 which coincide with World Animal Day on October 4 as well as the Feast Day of St Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals.

This year, Be Kind to Animals Week is launched by Edgar’s Mission farm sanctuary and Think Kind Australia: a multi-award winning website for teachers and parents to find free quality educational resources to promote humane education. Be Kind to Animals Week school competition 2015 asks students to do one act that makes the lives of animals better. It’s about inspiring and empowering students to take positive action for animal welfare and protection – and it’s also a great chance to have fun, build essential critical thinking skills and understand the value of empathy, responsibility and active citizenship in our communities!

So for this month’s inspirational interview, I thought it would be fitting to introduce you to Danae, a young vegan who’s on a mission to make a world a kinder place for the animals.

Interview with the vegan scholar

Hi Danae, tell us a bit about you personally and your blog The Vegan Scholar?

Hi! Let me start by throwing you a HUGE thank-you for featuring me on your blog. My name is Danae (A.K.A. The Vegan Scholar), I live in Australia and I’m 20 years old.  My interests include reading, writing, film, gaming and animals!

This year I’ll be studying English & Journalism at University – a subject that’s always been a passion of mine. I was studying a different degree last year – 3D modelling and programming – but decided it wasn’t for me and transferred into this new course.

In order to gain experience in the industry and hone my writing skills, I decided to start a blog, but wasn’t exactly sure what to blog about. Eventually I decided on veganism, as it’s a topic I’m very passionate about. I use my blog to provide useful resources for vegans and potential vegans.

How long have you been vegan for and what made you choose to transition to a plant-based lifestyle?

I’ve been vegan since October 2012 and vegetarian since 2000. For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved animals. I could never, ever imagine doing anything to harm one. I grew up around animals and considered them my best friends.

When I was six years old, I watched “Lisa the Vegetarian” – a Simpsons’ episode where, as the title suggests, Lisa becomes a vegetarian (yes, The Simpsons can teach excellent moral messages)! The episode helped me realise where meat really came from – previously, I had no idea it came from animals. We had roast beef that night and although it was my favourite food at the time, I couldn’t bring myself to eat it. I distinctly remember covering the beef in tomato sauce, hoping that would make it easier to eat – but it looked just like blood. I made a quick decision and told my mum I didn’t want to eat meat anymore. Thankfully, she was supportive, and went vegetarian along with me.

As a vegetarian, I never understood veganism. I thought vegans were crazy, and that living without chocolate, cake and ice-cream would be the most difficult thing in the world. How naive I was! (FYI, I still eat plenty of chocolate, cake and ice-cream – just a much healthier, compassionate kind!)

One day,when I was extremely bored, my boyfriend and I were browsing YouTube videos about “How Stuff is Made”. It was then that I clicked on a video about meat production. I wanted to show my non-vegetarian boyfriend why I didn’t eat meat. In the end, the video affected me just as much as it affected him, as the video also included horrific footage of and information about the dairy and egg industries. After being exposed to that terrible truth, I knew I couldn’t contribute to it anymore. So I became vegan.

What was the biggest challenge you face as a young vegan advocating for animal rights?

The biggest challenge by far is dealing with non-vegans. I know very few vegans and vegetarians in real life. Most of my family and friends are meat-eaters. Whether you want it to or not, becoming vegan is going to change your perception of other people, and that can be difficult. It’s so hard to understand why my otherwise loving and caring family don’t seem to care about animal suffering. How can they ignore something that pains me to my soul?

I struggle to talk about my veganism in my daily life, because the mere mention of the phrase seems to ignite anger and hostility in other people. When friends and family ask me about my veganism, I don’t know what to say, because the chance of offending them is so high – and I have a strong aversion to conflict.

Do you have a role model, a source of inspiration or someone you look up to? Can you share this with us?

Anyone who makes an effort to fight for the animals is an inspiration to me – I must say, though, I am a HUGE fan of Vegan Sidekick’s comics and I love Esther the Wonder Pig and her family. I’m also inspired by the owners of C-A-L-F Animal Sanctuary. They struggle a great deal and yet always remain dedicated to their animal residents.

Do you have a favourite quote or mantra that you live by?

Yes! Two, in fact.

The first is a quote that Roald Dahl also lived by. He is one of my favourite authors and I have fond childhood members of reading his books. Here’s the quote:

“My candle burns at both ends, it will not last the night. But ah my foes, and oh my friends, it gives a lovely light.”

I take this to mean that we should make the most of life while it lasts.

The second is self-explanatory:

“If we could live happy and healthy lives without harming others, why wouldn’t we?” – Edgar’s Mission.

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What are your 3 most favourite vegan foods?

A difficult choice… probably mixed seasonal vegetables and tofu with peanut satay sauce, the SFC (Soy Fried Chicken) burger from Zenhouse in Adelaide and homemade apple crumble! Not very healthy choices, I know – but all very delicious! :)

What exciting plans do you have for the future?

I hope to successfully complete my degree and eventually land myself in an enjoyable writing-related career. I want to be healthy and confident. I hope to live in a small house in the hills with my boyfriend and plenty of animals (ideally a few rescued farm animals). I also hope to have further success with my blog and to gain a little more motivation to keep posting regularly!

If you could give young vegans or aspiring vegans one parting piece of advice, what would it be?

At a time in your life when your friendships and relationships are all over the place, at least know that your strong morals and ethics will remain set in stone. Don’t let anyone try to change that. Be yourself, pamper yourself, and keep fighting for freedom and liberation.

Finally, tell us how can we learn more about you and your work? 

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My blog is available here: http://theveganscholar.blogspot.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theveganscholar

Twitter: https://twitter.com/theveganscholar

For any feedback or inquiries, please e-mail me at veganscholar@gmail.com :)

Thank you so much for this opportunity. I really enjoyed the interview. Vegan power!

one vegan

Be Kind to Animals Week invites your school to do one kind act for animals from 1 June to 10 October. The nationwide competition is about inspiring and empowering students to take positive action for animal welfare while having fun, building essential critical thinking skills, and understanding the value of empathy, responsibility and active citizenship in our communities.

To learn more – please visit ThinkKind.Org

Keren Natalia

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Interview with Pepe Marshall from Superfood Sushi

For the past year or so, Pepe and her son Guy have been serving up their unique Superfood Sushi at vegan events and farmers markets. I got to know Pepe at an event in Sydney where we had a great time talking about food (of course) and her new venture. She is such a fun and inspiring character and I’m so excited to be sharing this interview with you.

Since I last saw her, Pepe has taken her business to next level; successfully funded a Pozible campaign for the first vegan sushi cafe in Sydney, Superfood Sushi which turns traditional sushi dining on its head – All products served are 100% Vegan and super-healthy. What a rockstar!

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Pepe Marshall.

me and guy

Hi Pepe, tell us a bit about you personally and give us a little insight into your business, superfood sushi

Hi Keren, thanks for taking the time to contact us regarding our new business, Superfood Sushi. I trained as a chef and had a café in Auckland, New Zealand before moving to Australia ten years ago. I have more recently been in the corporate world owning my own commercial real estate business until recently. I decided, along with my son Guy to come back to my love of cooking, and what better way than to incorporate my lifestyle and providing people with innovative, fresh healthy food. Cooking and food constantly consumes me whether it be whilst I am reading, travelling or researching I am constantly experimenting.

What make you decide to pursue superfood sushi? How did it all start?

This is a start up business that Guy and I developed when we couldn’t find any plant based sushi around except for the boring unhealthy white rice rolls filled with avocado or cucumber- that’s is really all that’s available out there, so we decided to make our own. We have been serving up our sushi at organic farmers markets, vegan events and catering for the last six months and are about to open Australia’s first Vegan Sushi Café. Note: Superfood Sushi is Now Open!

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Would you mind sharing your transition story and what made you choose to transition to a plant-based lifestyle?

As with most of us my personal journey has been over a long period and began when I was unfortunate enough to witness the murder of a pig when I was very young, which has always haunted me. Over the last six years my life, both personally and professionally took a major turn and I began on what I could probably best describe as a path of awakening. I experienced that  lightbulb moment and have not looked back and feel happier and healthier for it.

What are some of the challenges you face as a veganpreneur and what do you love most about your business?

There are challenges at every step of the way with business, no matter in what realm you choose to operate in. I guess the main challenge for us, and other vegan business owners is sadly the often mistaken but widely held concept of that we are all loonies and that vegan food tastes like cardboard!!! I try to take a more softly approach and stay away from heated discussions that only tend to alienate people.

As for the cardboard taste… Our main aim is to try and seduce people with food – pretty simple really. Whether our customers are vegans, vegetarians or meat eaters we are aiming for the same result, to help people to stop using animal products. Many people are under the misconception vegan food is boring. It is any but boring. In fact I think some of the most creative recipes I have followed and created have been plant based.

So all in all, I expect the majority of our customers will be vegans, which of course is a much smaller part of the general population. Therefore our turnover is very likely to be less but costs are the same or higher than a non vegan business, so that’s always going to be a challenge. However, you ask what do I love the most, well, the opportunity to alter peoples perceptions about creative plant based food is really just too much fun!

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Do you have a favourite quote or mantra that you live by? Would you mind sharing it with us?

I have many mantras! Everyday I recite the Maha Mantra and on top of that  I guess the most important one is to be kind and have compassion. That can be taken may ways, be kind to the animals, to our family, to our loved ones, to our fans and the haters and to ourselves… Its pretty simple, everything emanates from that. Oh and BREEEATHE… that’s a good one when things get stressful

If you could list your 3 most favourite vegan food, what would they be?

Well that simple.. Avocado, Avocado and hmm lets see…. Probably Avocado! Seriously, at the moment I am in love with cashew fetta, raw lasagne and coconut flesh. I really eat most anything but try and stick to whole natural organic ingredients.

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If you could give the aspiring vegans and veganpreneur one parting piece of advise, what would it be

Well, I am still aspiring myself, so not sure how qualified I am to be offering advice.  I think through this journey is to stick to who you are and your beliefs and values. Always remember why you are doing what you do and how promoting a cruelty-free plant based lifestyle by how you choose to operate your business has so many benefits

Finally, how could we learn more about you and your work?

Well, we will be opening June 13th  in the eat street of Newtown, King Street. 69-77 King Street, Newtown

So please check us out, sign up to our monthly newsletter to find out first hand all the latest.

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Superfood Sushi now open Monday to Sunday 11am to 9pm and is located on 69-77 King Street, Newtown
Sydney 2042.

 

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Interview with Kim Miller from Kinda Bacon

My first taste of Kinda Bacon was at the Sydney Vegan Festival last year. I was handed a packet by one lady to give out to other volunteers and the chefs who were doing cooking demonstrations. She looked stunning, tall and slender with such clear skin and the best boy-cut I’ve ever seen in my entire life. I later found out that her name was Kim, and she was the founder of Kinda Bacon – a delicious, crunchy, bacon-y snacks made from coconut.

Fast forward another year, and I had the privilege to interview Kim. Kim is such a lovely and cool person to talk to. She has a lot of experience in the twists and turns of life and you could tell from the interview how passionate she is with what she does and with her vegan lifestyle. Hope this interview will inspires you as much as it has inspired me.

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Interview with Melissa and Lainie from Meat Free Week

Did you know that Australia is ranked in the top three biggest meat-eating countries in the world (per capita), behind the USA and Luxembourg. Australians eat an average of 111.5 kg of meat per person per year, which is more than double the world’s average of 41.9 kg. This consumption compromises our health and with global meat production predicted to double by 2020, raises serious concerns about long-term sustainability and animal welfare.

Bowel cancer is now the second largest cancer killer in Australia. High consumption of red and processed meat has been linked to both bowel cancer1 and the increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

Globally, the growing demand for meat is leading to increased deforestation, water usage and climate change with the UN identifying the livestock industry as one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems.

It has also created the number one animal welfare issue in the world, factory farming.

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Australia’s annual Meat Free Week will return bigger and better from 23-29 March 2015. The week is dedicated to raising awareness of the amount of meat people eat and the impact it has on human health, the welfare of animals and the environment.

Meat Free Week challenges Australians to sign up to go without meat, including seafood, for seven days. By being sponsored, participants have the opportunity to raise funds for one of three leading charities – Bowel Cancer Australia (health), Voiceless the animal protection institute (animal welfare) and The World Land Trust (environment).

With a growing trend towards meat free or meat-reduced meals and the steady rise of flexitarianism over the past few years (a mainly a plant-based diet with the occasional inclusion of meat), Meat Free Week gives people the perfect opportunity to try out new foods, get more veggies in their meals and see whether a meat-reduced diet is for them, even if it’s just one day a week or one week a year.

And for the first time this year, Meat Free Week will also be expanding the campaign into the UK, gaining great traction with great supporters on board including Jamie Oliver, Paul, Mary and Stella McCartney.

This week I had the opportunity to interview Lainie Bracher and Melissa Hobbs, the founders of Meat Free Week – a global campaign to get you thinking about how much meat you eat and the impact that excessive meat consumption has on your health, animals and the environment, while raising money for several leading charities.

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In this interview, Melissa and Lainie spoke about their journey and what inspired them to co-found this initiative, how they managed to convince Jamie Oliver to be the ambassador for the campaign as well as some the backlash they have received from vegans and farmers.

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 10.02.56 pm I know there are a lot of vegans who disapprove of campaigns that encourage people to eat ‘less’ meat such as Meatless Monday or Meat Free Week as they believe it distinguishes the consumption of other animal products (i.e. eggs or dairy) as being more ethically justifiably when they are all a result of tremendous violence, and it renders eating a small amount of meat any other day as ‘okay’ when it is not. The argument is that if we make an ethical decision to reject something that is morally wrong, then we must reject it all, every day, and not just on certain days.

I have mixed feelings about this ideal. On one hand, I want people to stop eating all animal products completely, but on the other hand I know that it is impossible for a lot of people to make such a drastic change without easing into it over time and I am glad for them to give it a crack without making them feel guilty as sin when they don’t stick to a plant-based diet from the very first day. I think Meat Free Week provides people with this opportunity in a fun and engaging way. It provides education. Education provides knowledge and awareness for people to make an informed choice. Love it or hate it, the campaign certainly has made a big impact with over 4,000 people signing up for the challenge, and raising over $150,000 for charity in its first two years.

So here’s the interview, do leave a comment or two and let me know what you think.

Resource Link:

Voiceless – An independent, non-profit think tank focused on raising awareness of animals suffering in factory farming and the kangaroo industry in Australia.

Bowel Cancer Australia – Bowel Cancer Australia works to reduce incidence, death and suffering associated with bowel cancer (aslo known colorectal cancer).

World Land Trust – A charity organisation with a 20 year track record of successful environmental projects. 

Recipes:

Here some of the recipes we talked about in the interview and my favourite ones from the Meat Free Week Website:

Note: You can also check out my recipe page for some plant based recipes and inspiration

Restaurant List – As picked by Chef and Meat Free Week Ambassador, Simon Bryant’s

Melbourne:
  • Veg out in St Kilda
  • Shakahari South Melb
  • Lord of the Fries Brunswick st Fitzroy is kind of clever and quite good
Sydney:
  • Iku various locations
  • Yuli’s in Surry Hills
Adelaide:
  • Zen house adelaide city East
  • Bliss organic adelaide central market precinct
  • Minestra in Prospect, not all vego but awesome vego and vegan choices
Darwin
  • I usually go to Hanamans and order vego
Brisbane
  • The Green Edge
  • Mondo Organics – not vego but offers really good vego/vegan options
Perth
  • Coming soon
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Join the Meat Free Week

Meat Free Week is on 23rd – 29th March 2015. You can check out the Meat Free Week website or their social media channels to learn how you can be part of this great event.

  • Website: meatfreeweek.org
  • Facebook: Meat Free Week
  • Twitter: @meatfreeweekorg
  • Instagram: @meatfreeweek
  • Hashtag: #meatfreeweek

Here are the two really important things people can do to support Meat Free Week:

1. Sign up for Meat Free Week OR if not participating, donate. It’s easy and you’ll be showing everyone how it’s done!

You can register here to be sponsored as an individual or as a team and encourage others to join you. OR simply donate money directly to the charities here. After registering, downloading the App from App Store  or Google Play is a great way to get friends and family on the spot to sponsor you whilst you’re out and about. Monitor progress, share messages, get sponsors via Facebook and have friends and family make a donation right from the fundraisers smartphone.

2. If you’re already vegetariansign up and go vegan for the week. And if you’re a vegan (or already living meat free), sign up and sponsor a meat loving friend for the challenge.

So, are you up for challenge? Of course you are! Check out my 7 Tips For 7 Days Of Meat Free Eating if you need some help in getting started. I’ll also be running a giveaway very shortly to help motivate you to inject some greens into your diet so stay tune and subscribe if you don’t want to miss out on the announcement.

Keren

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Interview with James Aspey from Voiceless 365

James Aspey is a 28 year old vegan, animal rights activist from Sydney, Australia. He became a Personal Trainer after winning his battle with cancer, and helped others live healthier, more positive lives for 9 years. During that time he learned about the health benefits of a vegetarian diet, adopted it for himself, recommended it to others, and after learning about the horrors of the animal cruelty industry, became vegan for ethical reasons. He then took a 365 day vow of silence to raise awareness for animals and promote peace over violence, in his campaign, Voiceless365.

James Aspey - Voiceless 365 01

Can you imagine not being able to speak for the whole year? I certainly can’t. When I heard about what James was doing, I was mind-blown. I have so much respect for this guy! James speaks for the first time after his campaign not too long ago and I thought, I need to have him on the blog! He kindly accepted my interview request and man, what an amazing guy James is. I am so thrilled to be sharing his story with you. Check it out.

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Interview with Leigh Drew – Author of Greenlicious – 101 Ways to Love Your Greens

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A month ago I was invited to celebrate Leigh Drew’s new cookbook, Greenlicious, 101 Ways to Love Your Greens. It was a marvellous event! I was able to eat ALL of the food for once.

You see, when I go to events, as you can imagine, most times it is a non-vegan event. I’d often get a special meal and most times people are very accommodating of my dietary needs but there’s nothing like the freedom of being able to eat everything on the table without having to check the ingredients or interrogate the waiting staff. I shared some photos from Leigh’s event in my weekly recap video – you can check it out here.

Now back to this cookbook. Greenlicious shows all the different ways you can eat more greens and illustrates just how versatile and delicious veggies can be. It was a real pleasure to meet Leigh in person, she is so warm and friendly and passionate about her food. The book is also co-authored by Amanda Benham, an Accredited Practising Dietitian and Accredited Nutritionist, which makes her ideal to answer any questions surrounding plant-based nutrition.

I bought the book, got it signed, and I felt healthier already. I asked Leigh and her publisher (Arbon Publishing) if I could interview her. Here’s how it went down.

PS: Make sure you read all the way to the bottom of the page for an exciting announcement.

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Interview with Jess Bailey from The Cruelty Free Shop

the team by Noah

If I had to list 3 things that play a crucial role in my early transition to a plant based diet, vegan cheese would top the list, followed by vegan chocolate and then soy milk. I don’t think I could live without them, or maybe I could, but I don’t want to. Life’s too short.

Last month I had the opportunity to interview Jess Bailey. A really lovely lady and an awesome animal welfare activist. Jess is the founder of the all-vegan grocery shop The Cruelty Free Shop. If you read or watch any of my product review posts or videos, you’d be familiar with the name. It is where I buy most of my vegan goodies from, it’s a vegan shop heaven!  She started the shop 13 years ago with a mission to make it easier for people to become and stay vegan. She also founded the annual Sydney Cruelty Free Festival with the goal of showing people how to make small changes in their every day lives in order to make great change for animals.

More recently Jess created the Vegan Day Out events in Sydney and Melbourne which encourages restaurants to offer more vegan meals on their menus and to allow non-vegans a chance to try vegan food (and to give existing vegans a fun day out too!).

So without further ado, here’s Jessica.


Hi Jess, thanks for taking the time to do this interview. I found out about your store just after I started my transition to a plant-based diet. I went shortly after and I was like a kid in candy store. You have a huge variety of vegan products! It really has made my transition a lot easier. You’re also very involved in the community, advocating for animal rights and sponsoring the annual cruelty-free festival. How did you get started?

It makes me happy to hear that we helped make your transition easier – that is exactly what we aim to do!

I first became aware of animal rights issues when I came across an Animal Liberation stall at a festival and picked up a heap of their flyers, I read them all cover to cover on the train home. Until then I’d been blissfully unaware that I’d been supporting animal cruelty every day, like so many others I just hadn’t thought about it. Once I had all that information in my head I had no choice, I could no longer go on being responsible for animal suffering so, over time, I phased out all animal products from my pantry, bathroom cabinet and wardrobe. Deciding to become vegan is the best thing I have ever done, I am no longer responsible for suffering – that feels very good! The fact that it’s also better for the environment and my health are just the icing on the cake.

As far as starting the shop goes, when I first went vegan two things struck me; firstly the inordinate amount of time I spent reading labels to find all those hidden animal ingredients, and secondly the amount of people who said “I used to be vegan but it was too hard”. These comments inspired me to create a shop that would make it easier for people to become and stay vegan; a place where people could shop safe in the knowledge that no animals were exploited or killed for any of the products on the shelves.

I mentioned earlier that you have tons of vegan products in your store. How did you manage to get your hands on so many different products?

That’s the fun part of my job! I trawl overseas websites, blogs, wholesalers and importers for those hard to find vegan products and then I get to try them all! I love finding hard to get products like vegan fish sauce, marshmallows without gelatine and, my favourite, cheeses without dairy.

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