Name: Zoë Pearson
Location: South East London
Twitter/Instagram/Snapchat/Pinterest @names: convo_pieces
Blog: Conversation Pieces
About Me: Hailing from Scotland, I moved to London 3 years ago and live here with my husband Neil and our two shelter cats the #foxowlcat and the #velvetninjacat (yes, they have their own hashtags!). Even after 3 years, I’m still a total London geek and obsessed with seeking out the weird and wonderful in this city. By day, I work for Pinterest and by night/weekend, I spend my time exploring London, running a book club for internet types Blook Club, stretching and head standing at Yogarise and working on a possible novel.
Favourite Animal: It’s a close call between sloths and foxes. Sloths because they look like the most chilled out, peaceful little dudes ever (and this video makes me so happy) – and foxes because we have some fox cubs that play in our neighbours garden and they’re possibly the cutest things ever. Also have a thing for micro pigs too… Ok, yeah, I have a few favourite animals!
When did you go vegan?
In August 2015, so nearly a year ago now. Which seems like all the time in the world and no time at all. I started with a month’s trial and when the month was up, there was no doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t keep going. Also about 4 weeks after I decided to go vegan, my husband ‘let slip’ that he’d decided he wanted to be vegan too.
Why did you go vegan?
Oh so many reasons. I’d been vegetarian for years but I was becoming increasingly aware that the dairy, egg and leather industries were something I didn’t want to be a part of – due to animal cruelty and environmental issues. I think it’s like the Matrix – once you take the blue pill and know the truth, you can’t go back again.
For my husband, who’d been a meat and dairy eater before, he also did it for the health benefits. He had a medical assessment at work and was told he now has lower blood pressure and his diabetes, heart disease and cholesterol scores are in the lowest possible risk groups.
What have you found challenging/difficult?
Not too much really. I’m lucky to know a lot of very open minded people who were either simply interested or actively supportive of my decision. I’ll admit that Neil gets more questions about being a vegan than I do – I think people are so used to a certain stereotype of what’s ‘manly’ that they don’t expect to meet a guy who does half-marathons, loves UFC and doesn’t eat meat or dairy. To help answers the questions he gets asked (“what do you eat?” mainly!) I had a Going Vegan board on Pinterest and we started a shared Instagram account called @BloomingVegans as then we can show people what we eat. It’s handy as every time we’ve shown someone what’s on there they’re like “oooh that looks amazing” and you end up having a good chat about good food instead.
What product most surprised you when you found out it wasn’t Vegan/Cruelty free?
Jeez, so much of my make-up. After a few weeks of being vegan, I sat down to go through my hair and beauty products to find out what was cruelty free and vegan. It was disheartening to realise how hard it was to find information from some brands – and I had to be honest with myself, if they’re not being open about how it’s made or what’s in it, then they probably don’t want you to know.
That’s how I also found out about squalene – shark liver oil – in cosmetics. I found it absolutely horrifying to realise that sharks die just so we can a moisturising lipstick.
It’s made me think so much more carefully about what I’m buying now… making sure I put my money into companies that I believe in, like Lush or Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics. I’ve also subscribed to the brilliant VeganKind box which has introduced me to lots of great products, like Human+Kind.
If you could say anything to your previous non-Vegan-self what would it be?
Not to worry so much about going vegan. Yes, it was a big decision, but now on the other side, it feels like the easiest decision I’ve made. I think the thing is that it’s like getting married or learning to love olives, when it’s for you, it’s for you – and suddenly that thing that seemed impossible or out of reach is incredibly simple. (Yes, I learned like to like olives in 2013!)
What are your favourite Vegan restaurants/cafes/shops?
Gosh so many! I really do like my food! For brunch, it has to be the Small White Elephant in Peckham (who do the best avocado on toast in London, their chilli jam is a thing of spicy beauty) or The Waiting Room in Deptford (which is an entirely veggie/vegan joint).
For a treat, then it’s Mildreds in Kings Cross or Soho – they also do great cocktails!
For snacks, it’s VX at Kings Cross for vegan marshmallows, Vego (the best chocolate bar), vegan jerky and other things you don’t need but really want!
Shop-wise, I’m really into Skinny Dip for cute, leather-free bags and Matt and Nat’s beautiful vegan bags. For vegan shoes, I’m a big fan of ASOS’s leather-free filter and Miss KG’s accidentally vegan shoes, but also adore Beyond Skin and Free People’s vegan range.
A photo posted by Blooming Vegans ✌️? (@bloomingvegans) on
What is your favourite/best Vegan documentary/book/Instagram account/blog/YouTuber?
On Instagram, I’m a fan of Accidentally Vegan UK… and actually just a fan of all the lovely vegans out there, such as the gorgeous Aine Carlin, who post amazing recipes and tips about where to go in the UK and abroad too.
Documentaries, I’d rate Vegucated (three different people go vegan for six weeks as a challenge – it’s funny, heartwarming, a little sad sometimes but feel good too), Cowspiracy (which goes into the environmental impact of the meat and dairy industry and why it’s not a bigger issue) and Food Inc (which is about how profit is put ahead of health in many products we buy). On a lighter note, Aziz Ansari’s “Live at Madison Square Garden” on Netflix – where he talks about factory farming and wisely says “never Google how anything you consume is created because it’s always gonna bum you out”.
Books… the one that influenced me the most was Eating Animals. I read it on a long haul flight and for me it was the ‘blue pill’ moment. It’s an intense book but I also like how straight to the point, no bullshit it is. I’m also obsessed with Salt, Sugar, Fat which I read two years ago now and really changed how I look at food (even before going vegan!). It’s also about food manufacturing – and was the first time I’d ever heard of dairy stockpiling and why there’s powdered milk in so many products. It was the first time I realised that the average individual eats way more dairy than they realise…
Cook-books… LOVE Thug Kitchen! The mango rice is amazing, the nachos, the everything… I get hungry even thinking about what I could make from those books! Also adore Aine Carlin’s book Keep It Vegan (her no cheese mac is amazing and a regular favourite of ours) as well as Anna Jones’ A Modern Way to Eat (the book is a mix of veggie and vegan but suggests how to make the veggie recipes vegan).
Which well-known vegans would you have at your fantasy dinner party and what 3 course meal would you serve?
Oh that’s a tough one… I’d go for Stevie Wonder, Peter Dinklage (who I think might be veggie but I’m counting him anyway!) and Dan Hardy, the UFC fighter, because my husband wants him to be there too! (I’d also sneak in Natalie Portman too so it’s not all boys!).
I’d serve up Thug Kitchen’s nachos, a buddha bowl or possibly some crazy tacos, and Jamie Oliver’s chocolate chilli pots (which my Dad made for Christmas pudding this year) or/and vegan doughnuts. Or knowing us, probably all the things with a side of craft beer too!
What advice would you give someone who was thinking about going vegan?
Do what feels right for you… I’m an all or nothing sort of person but most people cut back gradually. Don’t give yourself the pressure to be perfect either. And most importantly, going vegan doesn’t mean missing out on fun stuff – there’s lots of vegan treats, from Oreos to Party Rings, Walls Glace ice cream that’s accidentally vegan, veggie Colin the Caterpillars from M&S… the list is long!
And find yourself some support whether it’s online or in real life… someone who can give you tips, who’ll celebrate your mini successes or let you know about important stuff like buying nooch (looks weird but it’s life-changing!) or what’s the best chocolate. I was lucky enough that my little sister was already vegan and she was fantastic at recommending all the fun eats to try. It also means having someone to talk to when you learn some stuff that’s pretty hard to comprehend about the way our food industries work and you just want to go ‘wtf’ without offending your friends who aren’t there yet!
Please can you show us a picture of the inside of your fridge/cupboards?
Any further comments or anecdotes to share:
One of the happy things about going vegan is that you can go hug micro pigs without feeling guilty. Honestly, they’re the funniest, stubbornest, loudest little beasts I’ve ever met. They’re playful like dogs but also just really cheeky.
But, on a more serious note, there’s enough stress and fear in this life and being able to let go of a little part of that, well, it certainly made me feel better. And less stress and fear can never be a bad thing.