About Me: I was born and raised on a 40 acre farm in Gingin, Western Australia, and after a 2 year stint in Melbourne, I now call London home. I have a very boring office job during the day, and try to enjoy a very not boring life outside of work. I go to rock gigs, indie nights, sometimes take photos of bands and drunk people, very, very regularly take photos of food, and travel around the UK/Europe as much as I can. I love vegan junk food, tattoos, leopard print, Johnny Marr, non-fiction books and boys with beards.
Favourite Animal: It’s gotta be the humble doggie. All dogs are fab, but especially Jack Russells, Whippets, Greyhounds and Dachshunds. I have been known to take photos of dogs on trains and send to my pals…
(pistachio crusted tofu, recipe here)
When did you go vegan?
27 June 2015, after a particularly unhealthy few weeks of gigging, drinking and junk food.
Why did you go vegan?
At first it was for health reasons – I had been overdoing it with the junk food and drinking for a few months and felt rotten, so decided to start juicing (NOT a juice diet!). I had been on and off vegetarian for about six years at that stage, but had slowly begun eating a more meat heavy diet during that period, and felt worse and incredibly guilty for it. I had some time off work during the summer and started looking into eating healthily and came across a couple of vegan documentaries. It really made sense to me from a health perspective, and once I learned more about the environmental and animal treatment side of things (male chicks are ground up alive – WHAT?! Cows don’t produce milk unless they’re constantly pregnant – WHAT?!) I couldn’t turn back. I had officially taken the red pill…
(tofu tacos on Jen’s gorgeous IG feed – follow here)
What have you found challenging/difficult?
The questioning from non-vegans. Mate, I KNOW where I get my protein from. I WON’T be stranded on a desert island with a pig. I DON’T miss cheese (I eat cheese nearly every day, it just doesn’t come from an artificially inseminated cow). Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love having questions asked by non-vegans who are generally interested (or want to know what the best vegan cheese is for toasties), but I don’t have time for those who just want a debate for the sake of it. Switching to a vegan diet wasn’t difficult at all. Once I knew that there were a plethora of yummy vegan chocolates, cheeses, faux meats, treats and deep fried foods it was a walk in the park.
What product most surprised you when you found out it wasn’t Vegan/Cruelty free?
I was surprised at how much cow’s milk is in everything. The worst was discovering my favourite crisps (Walkers Sensations Thai Sweet Chilli) had buttermilk powder in them. WHY?! Luckily their onion and balsamic vinegar variety are vegan friendly…
If you could say anything to your previous non-Vegan-self what would it be?
I would suggest coming over to my place, making my non-vegan self a delicious vegan junk food meal, cracking open a couple of bottles of (vegan-friendly) cider and suggest watching Forks Over Knives or Cowspiracy. I always found the “beating over the head” variety of vegan activism to be completely off-putting when I was non-vegan. No one wants to be told that they’re an awful person because they eat meat/eggs/have cow’s milk in their tea. Almost all of my mates are non-vegan, and they’re not awful people!
What are your favourite Vegan restaurants/cafes/shops?
I recently went to The Full Nelson in Deptford and was bowled over by how brilliant it was – not just the excellent junk food, but the lovely staff, the drinks and the music. Living in the south east of London I’m a regular at Ms Cupcake and Veg Bar, both in Brixton. I head up to VX in Kings Cross a fair bit as well. Adore pop ups Club Mexicana and Pomodoro e Basilico. I think if I lived in Brighton I’d be at VBites and Purezza every second day!
Being an Aussie, I have to say the vegan options in Melbourne are ridiculously good. From vegan poached eggs at Matcha Mylkbar, high-end vegan dining at Transformer or delicious Latin American rock & roll vibes at Smith & Daughters, you’re spoilt for choice there.
What is your favourite/best Vegan documentary/book/Instagram account/blog/YouTuber?
Where to start?!
Instagram account: Nomyourself (I want her life!), London_Afro_Vegan, Saretapuri, veganfatkid, theplantpoweredprincess, stop_hannahtime, plantbased_food_and_travel, incogneato_vegan (and of course jenniams ;-))
(Jen likes to go hard on a Friday – follow along here)
Which well-known vegans would you have at your fantasy dinner party and what 3 course meal would you serve?
Morrissey, Johnny Marr, Joachim Phoenix, JME… I should probably invite some ladies too?! Kalel, Ariana Grande, Joan Jett and Miley Cyrus.
I would serve dishes that I eat at home regularly, like maybe:
Starter: Roasted peppers stuffed with giant basil couscous
Main: Balsamic tofu skewers with brown rice and garlic bread
Dessert: Aquafaba chocolate mousse with raspberries and vegan cream
What advice would you give someone who was thinking about going vegan?
Don’t be pushed into anything by other people, vegan or non-vegan. Go at your own pace. If you don’t want to give up cheese just yet, don’t. Substitute as much as you can. Swap meats for faux meats, milks for plant milks, cheese for vegan cheese. Try anything and everything. Research. Follow vegan Instagrammers. Learn how to cook. Don’t feel as if you have to be a healthy vegan either – eat what makes you feel happy. If that’s fries and hot dogs, do it – there are plenty of vegan hot dogs! Also if you’re planning on eating out, check the menu online beforehand. If there’s nothing suitable – eat before you go out. If you can play around with the menu to have something vegan-friendly (e.g. take out the cheese) then go for it. Any good restaurant/café will be happy to accommodate you.
Please can you show us a picture of the inside of your fridge/cupboards?
Of course! I have a tiny fridge and dark cupboards so have taken all of it out so you can see clearly. I also have about 50 different spices and herbs and sauces not shown here, plus a load of half empty packets of frozen foods from Fry’s and Linda McCartney!
Any further comments or anecdotes to share:
I guess I just want to share that I feel so much better in myself following a vegan lifestyle. For me, there was always something in the back of my mind saying “this isn’t right” when I was eating meat, but because of tradition, advertising and cognitive dissonance, I would push those thoughts to the back of my mind. Not anymore! I feel healthier, my skin looks better, I have more energy (that 3pm need for nap time has disappeared completely) and I can cook like a pro. Almost.
Thank you so much for taking part in my interview series, Jen!
If you would like to appear on the blog, please contact me here, I would love to hear from you.