INTERVIEW WITH LINDSAY OF LEICESTER VEGAN

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Name: Lindsay AKA Leicester Veggie

Blog: www.leicesterveggie.com

Twitter / Instagram @Names: @leicveggie

Location: Leicester

About Me:

I’m an American transplant living in Leicester with my husband and two very cheeky tuxedo cats, Sweep and Fred (who annoyingly do not get along). Having spent most of my life in Arizona, I’m a bit of a sun worshipper who loves Mexican food – both of which are in short supply here!

I work in PR for my day job – which I still find amazing, as I was actually painfully shy growing up. It’s been a long, difficult road, but I have managed to overcome most of my shyness only to discover that I am in fact also an introvert. But that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy a good party as long as it’s balanced with books and “me time”!

I was also a bit of a tomboy growing up, and have played almost every single sport there is – but my main passion was horseback riding and competitive show jumping. I’ve given up most sports aside from snowboarding, but have been playing a bit of football lately too (I’m a big LCFC fan!). You can also catch me tootling around town on my purple fixie during the warmer summer months (did I mention I’m a wimp about the cold??).

Favourite Animal:

That’s a tough one. I love all domestic animals – cats, dogs, horses (ponies in particular – the smaller the better!).  I also love whales. I have had the pleasure of seeing them in the wild on a couple of occasions – the most notable of which was seeing the orcas off the coast of Seattle, Washington. I also love red pandas. They have to be the cutest, dumbest mammals on the planet.

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When did you go vegan?

I went vegan around 2ish years ago. Unlike a lot of vegans I seem to come across, for me it’s been a slow process rather than something that happened overnight. I started by only cooking vegan at home and still eating dairy/eggs when dining out – but this I also gradually phased out (however I did have some slip-ups even after calling myself vegan!).

Why did you go vegan?

I’ve been a vegetarian most of my life, with a few years in between of eating fish, chicken and, on the very rare occasion, a little red meat. Around 4 years ago my English, “meat and two veg” husband decided to go vegetarian and to support him I also made the switch, this time for good.

About a year later I noticed more and more people around me going vegan – including my mom and her partner (an ER doctor in the US) who lost weight, improved their health and felt amazing in general. Because of this, and from watching a couple documentaries (Forks over Knives, for one), I decided to make the transition to being vegan. Once I did, I researched veganism more and could no longer ignore how cruel and damaging the dairy and egg industries are.

What have you found challenging/difficult?

I was never a huge cheese fan, but I did miss it a little because there are no suitable alternatives in my opinion (please, someone prove me wrong!). I guess the most challenging thing is trying to avoid random things that contain dairy. For example, why would some potato crisps and bread have milk in them?!

The other thing I find challenging is being around non-vegan friends without seemingly coming across as judgemental (anything you say/do sounds like you’re criticizing them in their minds). When you have all this knowledge it’s so hard to watch someone you care about eat a bacon cheeseburger without wanting to say something – but that’s a quick way to lose friends. My best friend, for example, is the biggest animal lover I’ve ever met, but also a huge meat eater. It’s difficult to watch that kind of disconnect.

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

In terms of food – I knew that dairy and eggs weren’t vegan, but didn’t know exactly why (even as a vegetarian). I had no idea baby male chicks were killed, or that calves were torn from their mothers within hours of being born so we could keep the milk to ourselves.

The other surprising thing was discovering what everyday household products weren’t vegan. I never gave a second thought to how my down pillow, wool jacket or red lipstick may have been produced or where it came from. Even one of my favourite hair products contained oil from fish roe!

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

Stop pretending that just because the animal was raised in a grass field, that it is somehow ok to take its life. You never liked the taste of meat anyway – so what are you doing! (side note: I wouldn’t be this blunt with others – just myself!)

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What are your favourite Vegan restaurants/cafes/shops?

I visit the Leicester Whole Food Co-op about once a week to stock up on vegan pantry essentials like white miso, nooch and oat milk. They also have some great vegan snacks, chocolates and frozen items for when I’m in the mood for a little junk

food. I also really like Currant Affairs in the city center – they have similar vegan pantry items (albeit in a much smaller space), and they have amazing fresh made food for lunch – I’m particularly fond of their vegan sausage rolls.

I’m a big fan of any restaurants or cafes that make a concerted effort to cater for vegans, but I have to say one of my favorites in Leicester is the Orange Tree pub. They change their menus seasonally, and every time they come up with several really great vegan choices that are clearly marked on the menu. At the moment they have a few really great vegan mains – and I can safely say the vegan calzone is amazing (seriously, get it while you can!). We also have an abundance of fantastic curry restaurants in town. Two restaurants I like in particular are Kayal and the Grand Durbar.

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

I love Nom Yourself’s instagram – her vegan food is so beautifully presented and looks so tasty as well, plus she’s a total badass (girl crush alert!). There are so many vegan bloggers I like that I can’t pick just one! Everyone is so friendly and supportive – it’s a great community to be a part of.

The first documentary that really got me thinking about going vegan was Forks over Knives which tackles veganism from a health perspective. Cowspiracy was another that was an incredible eye opener on just how damaging the meat, dairy and egg industries are to the planet (did you know Leonardo Dicaprio is the exec producer?!). Most recently I watched Speciesism which looks at how we morally rationalize eating meat, when in fact when it comes down to it what we’re doing is genocide.

Another really powerful movie is Blackfish about the orcas held in captivity by SeaWorld and other aquariums. It singlehandedly sparked a movement against SeaWorld and has helped bring about real change to how these beautiful animals are treated (SeaWorld just last week announced it would end the Orca breeding program).

There are lots of other great documentaries out there but I can’t bring myself to watch any that show animal abuse. I’m too sensitive and I think I’ve earned the right not to see them!

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

I recently found out Jon Stewart is vegan – so he would be my number one guest as he would bring clever, funny conversation to the table. My other two guests would be Ellen DeGeneres and Bill Clinton (although I understand he eats some fish now).

As mentioned previously, I’m a huge fan of Mexican food, so I’d have to serve up a South of the Border feast:

Starter: tomato-based tortilla soup, and tortilla chips with guacamole

Main: pulled jackfruit tacos with homemade flour tortillas

Sides: salad, homemade Mexican rice and salsa, avocado, black beans

Dessert: churros with spiced, melted Mexican chocolate

And of course, to keep the conversation lively I’d serve everything with my famous, lethal margaritas!

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

Do what feels right. For some that’s diving right in and cutting out all non-vegan foods right away, and for others it’s about taking smaller steps by slowly eliminating those things from your diet and daily life. Once you make the commitment, don’t worry if you slip up – just remember that what you’re doing is having a positive impact on animal welfare, your health and the environment and keep at it!

Also – there are some GREAT vegan junk foods out there, but don’t rely too heavily on them. Get a cookbook and get inspired – try new recipes and ingredients you’ve never heard of and have fun with it!

Finally, be gentle with those around you who are not vegan. It can be so easy to slip into being preachy and self-righteous (I mean, what you’re doing is amazing!), but it puts non-vegans off incredibly fast. Instead, be the vegan you wish you’d met before you were vegan.

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

I’ve always been a fairly healthy person and I LOVE vegetables. My favorites that I have nearly every day are courgettes and mushrooms, and of course avocados. To me a meal isn’t complete unless it has something green to go with it. But that’s not to say I don’t like junk food too – I have a soft spot (soft belly?) for vegan fried chicken and chips, plus the odd Vego chocolate bar. And my real weakness is red wine.

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Any further comments or anecdotes to share:

1. My husband is not a vegan (technically he’s pescatarian – eating fish on the rare occasion). But all meals he has at home are 100% vegan (thank goodness he loves my cooking!). He also participated in Veganuary this year which pleased me to no end 🙂

2. I’m weirdly not the biggest fan of fruit. I’ve never had much of a sweet tooth, so if I’m ever feeling snacky I go for vegetables or crackers and hummus instead of an apple or handful of berries, for example. I know it’s bad though, which is why I recently invested in a Nutribullet so I can get some more fruit in my diet!

3. I have a twin sister who still lives in Arizona. We’re pretty different people, but we both love animals. She fosters dogs so they can then go to their forever homes and has founded a rescue that she hopes to get started someday soon. She’s also a vegetarian / transitioning vegan 🙂

 

 

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