INTERVIEW WITH TOM SHORE

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Name:  Tomas Shore

Location: Hampstead, London

Twitter / Instagram Names: @M0by_Duck

About Me: Born in Sweden, grew up in Herefordshire and after many years in Newcastle, Cornwall & Mozambique, now settled down in London. Main interests are the sea, marine life, drunken elk and mountains. Used to work as a Diving Instructor, now work in charities and soon to be in children’s services for a North London council. Recently co-founded www.mindtank.co.uk

Favourite Animal: The Mantis Shrimp. It kills its prey by punching the water so quickly that it creates a shockwave. Incredibly beautiful crustaceans and one of the most amazing creatures I’ve ever seen.

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image credit: aqua.org

 

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When did you go vegan?

I’ve been vegan twice with a spell of vegetarianism in between. I first went vegan back in 2007 when I was 21. This lasted 3 years till I moved to Mozambique. When I came back from Mozambique in 2011 I was vegetarian. I’ve been vegan again for roughly the last year. I wish I remember the exact date but I just can’t remember now.

Why did you go vegan?

Initially I went vegan because of climate change and global warming. I was at University and hadn’t eaten meat in quite a while. I’d got to the stage where whenever I ate meat it made me feel ill and I just didn’t enjoy it. I’d been reading at the time about the effects cattle farming was having on the planet in areas such as the Amazon. I’d also been reading more and more about the incredible amount of CO2 that is produced by factory farming. This got me interested and the more I read, the more I learnt, the more it made sense to go vegan.

Other issues in the same areas caught my interest. For example transport around the globe of foodstuffs contributes a vast amount to global warming. Planes, freighter ships and large fishing vessels are contributing vast amount of CO2 and for the latter additionally destroying the oceans. As a diver I’ve always had a great interest in the oceans and protecting the oceans. My dissertation at University was about how diving helped people identify with themselves and as a larger section of society. I was, and still am, appalled that as a species we’ve destroyed vast amounts of coral reefs and the species that live around them. Coral reefs are the largest natural producers of oxygen in the world and the biggest absorbers of CO2 and we’ve pushed them to the edge.

The second time I went vegan was because of my wife Jen. I’d come back from Mozambique vegetarian, I’d developed an inner ear condition which left me unable to dive and suffering from spells of vertigo. I’d got used to dairy and was advised to stick with it as the condition I had, Menieres, sometimes reacted well to certain diets. I’m disappointed now that I didn’t do further research at this time but I stuck with this diet until last year. Jen had started researching the way animals are treated in producing milk and eggs and it shocked me. I hadn’t looked into this side when I first went vegan and it was a real eye opener for me. Since then I’ve been vegan once again.

 

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What have you found challenging/difficult?

Finding out what does and doesn’t have milk in is often the most annoying thing. Which crisps are vegan? What products have needlessly added milk to something? Which alcohol is filtered through fish (not an entire fish)? As well as this you always feel like a bit of an arsehole when someone else has brought you something they assume is vegan to eat especially and it’s got milk or eggs in it. The majority of Quorn products are a prime example of this.

Dietary and health wise I haven’t found anything difficult, as long as you’re sensible about what you eat you’ll be fine. Your bones won’t crumble through lack of calcium and I get my protein from where most people get their protein. I don’t think anyone’s seriously worried about where they get their protein from until someone says they’re vegan. No-one’s ever hauled their weak, protein-less body across hot coals to grab a steak which will ‘save their life’.

 

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

Some Beers and Wines. A lot of alcoholic drinks are filtered through fish’s swim bladders. Why? Certainly not to keep them buoyant underwater? I do wonder why this happened in the first place and whether there was a process of elimination before they arrived at fish guts. Did they start with a spleen of a tiger and just work their way down?

 

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

You don’t need meat to survive, you won’t collapse without bacon. When I was only eating meat every few weeks before I first went vegan I found that when I did eat meat I’d feel sick, in hindsight that should’ve worried me more. If you go a month without an apple then have one you’re unlikely to feel violently sick because of eating it, the same can’t be said for meat. Your body shouldn’t reject food and I think it says something that it does for meat.

I would tell myself when I came back from Mozambique that with a bit more effort and research I could’ve been vegan. When I look back at that time I feel bad for not trying harder and that makes me all the more determined to do more research now and not lapse, like I did, again.

 

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What are your favourite Vegan restaurants/cafes/shops?

Mildreds in Soho has the best Mushroom and Ale pie. Amazing. Plus their brownies are ridiculous.

Veg Bar in Brixton is the best place for fast food and their burgers are fantastic.

Club Mexicana are an amazing pop-up, found around Kings Cross in the summer and always at the various Street Feast locations.

Ms Cupcake, also in Brixton, designed our wedding cakes (yes, we had two). They put Jurassic Park quotes on them for us and the cakes went down a storm with everyone at the wedding.

Coach & Horses in Soho does incredible Tofush. It really has to be tried.

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

Earthlings is pretty harrowing but a must watch in my book. Shiver, whilst not being a specifically vegan documentary is a great film about shark finning in Mozambique.

On Instagram @accidentallyveganuk is great for finding stuff which you wouldn’t think was vegan.

 

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

Jessica Chastain – so I can ask her about how she isn’t Bryce Dallas Howard and how she caught Osama Bin Laden.

Liam Hemsworth – So I can ask him all about his actor brother. Luke Hemsworth.

Al Gore – Although he wouldn’t be able to bring any powerpoint presentations and at least 5 minutes would be spent shouting at him for not becoming President.

Ellen Degeneres – Why wouldn’t you have her at a dinner party if you had the choice?

Jenny Beavan – She’d have amazing stories about Mad Max: Fury Road and she seems pretty cool.

I’d be terrified cooking for these people and everything would probably go wrong so I’d keep it simple.

Starter – Pulled Smoked mushrooms on toast. I recently attempted pulled smoked mushrooms and I’m addicted already. Recipe here.

Main – Matapa, a Mozambican nut curry served with spinach and mushrooms. I learnt to make this in Mozambique, it’s simple and relies on the great flavours you get from each ingredient. Traditionally served with prawns but I substitute them for mushrooms.

Dessert – I like baking but about 50% of the time I fuck it up. Saying that, I’ve made Mildreds chocolate and peanut butter brownies and holy shit they’re good. They’d probably be burnt or destroyed in some way but I think anyone would be happy with a chocolate brownie, even if it is a disaster.

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

To quote Brie Larson in Scott Pilgrim “Short Answer. Vegans are just better than everyone else”, I’d trust her, she’s won an Oscar.

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

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