INTERVIEW WITH HANNAH SIERP

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Name: Hannah Sierp

Location: South East London

Twitter / Instagram Names: @stop_hannahtime

About Me: I’m a Brummie gal living in London. Feminist, liberal, I love travelling (especially going on USA roadtrips, which my Husband & I write about here, or visiting beautiful Nordic countries), I’m fairly gluttonous, have two one-eyed rescue-cats #BettyAndChester, love comedy, pin badges, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton and Hank Williams, all kinds of films especially terrible Nic Cage ones, fancy cocktails, keeping an eye on politics, kindness, silliness, I work in the heritage sector, am married to a beer-loving awesome guy, terrible at sport, never met a sequin I didn’t like. Am a brand-new vegan.

Favourite Animal: Whaaaaaaatttt? Are you kidding me? Oh this is SO hard. Obviously, as a cat-mum, cats endlessly delight and surprise me but goats, hedgehogs, bumble-bees, dogs, horses, pigs, bears, rabbits, foxes… I love pretty much all animals! I’ve had a few unfortunate run-ins with leeches and wasps in my time, but we’re pretty chill about it.

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When did you go vegan? Well, I used to love eating Mac and Cheese, cheese burgers and fried chicken but I started feeling increasingly conflicted about it and cut back eating meat last year. At the start of the year I became vegan-ish and once I’d eaten all of the veggie things in my house that my husband wouldn’t eat (waste not, want not) I – about 2 weeks ago – decided to adopt the vegan lifestyle. So I’m a box-fresh, baby vegan.

Why did you go vegan? This might sound odd but, honestly, I saw a video of two happy pigs unwrapping and playing with their Christmas gift – a football – and was so struck by how they were so alike in character to dogs. They’re very smart and love having their tummies rubbed too. It really stuck with me and I read more about food production and watched a bunch of films (Earthlings, Forks over Knives, Food Inc, Cowspiracy…) and mulled the issue over in my head a lot. I honestly had no idea about the cruelty of the dairy industry or what happens to male chicks in the egg industry and once I did, I kinda knew I had to do it. Watching a film like Earthlings (which is hugely distressing) is like taking the Red Pill in the Matrix. I just can’t imagine going back to what I did before.

 

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What have you found challenging/difficult? 

I’m a Brummie girl, so giving up Cadbury’s milk chocolate bars has been a bit tricky and butter is tastier to me than dairy-free margarine. I’ve been surprised that I’ve barely missed cheese but gobsmacked at just how many toiletries are tested on animals/use animal products.

What product most surprised you when you found out it wasn’t Vegan/Cruelty free?

The crisps that have milk powder in them – like Snaps: bummer! – and it’s annoying when recipes are re-formulated so that they’re no longer vegan *I’m looking at you Jammie Dodgers*. I read labels a lot now – it’s been fascinating finding out what’s actually in the stuff I used to inhale without thinking!

 

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If you could say anything to your previous non-Vegan-self what would it be?

Give it a go sooner! I have to say, luckily for me, I feel like it’s getting easier and easier to be vegan. High-street places like Pret or Wetherspoons are really good at stocking vegan dishes and labeling their menus clearly. It’s revolutionized my diet. I used to struggle to get to five fruit/veg a day and now that’s easy. My skin feels so lovely and I feel so light, happy and energetic. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still pretty lazy, but I feel great and that this is one of the best decisions I’ve ever taken in my life.

 

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What are your favourite Vegan restaurants/cafes/shops?

I’m new to this but Cook Daily does incredible huge bowls of tasty goodness in BoxPark, and the Vegan Queen pizza slices by Voodoo Ray are amazing. I’m going to Mildreds for my birthday and cannot dang wait. Yorica! in Soho is great for dairy-free ice-cream. Brew Dog have lots of vegan beers. I’m finding new places all the time…it’s been a lot of fun.

What is your favourite/best Vegan documentary/book/Instagram account/blog/YouTuber?

Earthlings changed the way I think about the other creatures on our planet but was utterly heartbreaking, so I’d proceed with caution. Melanie Joy’s Ted Talk on Carnism was fascinating. Accidental Vegan, Moby (the musician) and the Farm Sanctuary on instagram are all brilliant. Thug Kitchen – the cookbook – is a sweary riot of amazing food.

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Which well known vegans would you have at your fantasy dinner party and what 3 course meal would you serve?

Guests: Can we do alive and dead people? Yeah? Well:

Coretta Scott King – who was a vegan for the last ten years of her life and an incredible campaigner.

Jessica Chastain – although I’d have to apologise for staring at her. She’s *so* pretty.

Peter Dinklage – he’s PETER DINKLAGE.

Sandra Oh – she’s in one of my fave films (Sideways).

Joaquin Phoenix – he’s in one of my fave films (Her) and is also very easy on thine eyes.

Prince: GUYS, HE’S PRINCE. He could perform after-dinner.

Steve-O and Kat Von D: They’re a super cute couple and Steve-O could make us laugh and Kat Von D could give me a (free?) tat to say thanks for dinner.

Food:  Some kind of beautiful dumplings in a spicy broth that got me all excited about eating, to start. For mains a whopping great chilli with tonnes of corn chips and a mountain of guac. For dessert a platter of perfectly fresh and juicy fruit AS WELL AS some fancy-ass chocolates.

 

 

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What advice would you give someone who was thinking about going vegan?

Listen to your head and your heart. Read up as much as you feel you need to so you’re informed about why and how to do it. Make sure your stock cupboard has a good variety of canned/dried beans, pasta, rice, grains and see if you can find a cheap place to pick up loads of fruit and veg. Look out for when your favourite vegan chocolate/cookies are on offer and bulk buy if you can. Ask questions if you need to, check out the #Vegan hashtag to see what other people are eating and feel inspired. The Vegan Society have a 30 Day Pledge and send you recipe ideas and helpful info every day during this time. Maybe try 1 vegan day a week, or go vegan for a fortnight to see how you feel. Just do what feels right!

Please can you show us a picture of the inside of your fridge/cupboards?

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Further anecdotes/comments:

There are lots of reasons why people are vegan but for me, it’s mainly about animal welfare. It’s demonstrably good for the planet and people’s health but for me, since adopting my two gorgeous cats I’ve been struck by how deeply I love them and by how distinct their personalities are. They might be a pair of little bozos but they have unique likes and dislikes, fears, pleasures and a right to exist without being mistreated. Once I realized this then why not all animals? Getting to know my cats – who had been mistreated – and seeing them flourish after bring showered with love and care, has made me feel so much compassion for the animals we think of as food, rather than friends or family. It’s hard to think about giving up familiar, tasty food, I do really get it, but once you make the connection and try it out it’s honestly no big deal!

 

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