Vegans come from all walks of life and this new kind of post I am featuring each week will show you just that.
Chantal is the Founder and Managing Director of the VEGAN lifestyle ASSOCIATION – launched in Feb 2015 and helping people to live a vegan lifestyle.
Follow Chantal on Twitter @vegsoup4thesoul
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1. How long have you been a vegan?
Two and a half years. Veggie 1 year before.
2. What inspired you to become a vegan?
It was a journey for me – initiated by my best friend getting cancer and me researching into reasons, and cures, and discovering, for the first time, the horrors that really go on in our food industries (animal agriculture). At the same time, I rescued some ex battery hens, and as I could see their personalities emerge I made that special connection with other animals. Finally, my research led to me watching some powerful films such as Earthlings and that was it for me.
3. What is your favourite vegan dessert
Has to be old school puds like crumble and icecream or treacle tart and custard.
4. What’s the biggest lesson you have learned to date about veganism?
That for me it isn’t just about not eating animals – it’s an ethos and a total lifestyle, in my actions as a consumer, and for all of my behaviours as well. I try to be a better person each day, not to judge others and to offer unconditional love. Humans are animals too.
5. Which vegan person do you most admire and why?
I admire many people and take great inspiration from them. Usually strong vegan advocates who are working tirelessly to spread the word in a positive way – this includes my fellow Directors at the VLA – David, Dave, Alex and Marissa as well as people like Melanie Joy, Tobias Leenaert (The Vegan Strategist), Sean (FatGayVegan), Kylie and Laura (TeenVGN), Lizzi (Dorset Vegan), Michelle (VeganCakery)…
6. What is the greatest challenge you have had to overcome in your vegan experience so far?
The greatest challenge for me has been, and always will be, ‘how can I be the most effective advocate/activist that I can be’. I’m trying to achieve this constantly – because animals are suffering needlessly every second of every day and for me our situation on this planet is critical. I don’t think it’s too dramatic to say that time is running out, so I want to ensure I play my part in achieving a critical mass for veganism as quickly as possible, so that we reduce as much suffering as we can, as quickly as possible. We need to create a tipping point that sees veganism become the norm.
7. What 3 tips would you give to a new vegan?
Make friends with other friendly vegans (perhaps use a service such as the VLA mentoring scheme) there’s nothing like real life practical experience and support to help you feel like you’re not alone. Understand and accept, that not everyone around you will go vegan over night too and be cool with it – these things take time. Know that veganism is never about perfection – it’s about just doing the best that you can and that you learn as you go along. (Don’t be too hard on yourself if you make mistakes.)
8. What’s the best vegan book you’ve ever read?
As a committed activist working 24/7 for the VLA and the movement, I practically inhale books – I’m like a sponge for learning! The best book I read of late was by Melanie Joy – “Strategic Action for Animals”. It’s full of great insight on the psychology behind Carnism and how we can seek to understand it if we are to be effective in reaching out to people and helping them to change. It also helped me to get past my ‘angry vegan’ phase very quickly and I no longer feel that way towards non vegans.
9. What is your hobby?
I love the arts – film, theatre, music and art. It’s a great way for me to take time out from what is a very intensive lifestyle, as you can imagine. Activist burnout is a very real problem and so I am mindful that I do need a little bit of pleasant escapism every now and then. It helps me to cope with the trauma of things I read and see and I can compartmentalize, stay sane and continue to work hard.
10. Which animal is your favourite
Oooh tough one! I am literally fascinated by ALL life forms! But I adore elephants- I love their highly evolved culture and intelligence. I also love cetaceans, chickens and spiders.
11. What is your favourite vegan place to eat
Another tough one! As part of my ‘research’ (haha) I do like to try as many different places as I can afford! I like café Maitreya in Bristol, Acorn in Bath and tibits in London (all veggie with vegan options).
12. Where is the best place you’ve traveled to and why?
I am fortunate to have travelled to many foreign countries so it’s almost impossible to say! I love the rugedness of Iceland (and whale watching there), the buzz of New York (I’d love to go back for the food now I’m vegan) and any islands in the Indian Ocean (for the chance to swim amongst the stunning sea life).
13. If you could meet any vegan in the world dead or alive who would it be and why?
Probably Donald Watson and his fellow vegans who were compassionate visionaries – I’d want to shake their hands and assure them we’re doing all we can to achieve their vision. PLUS all of the people I’m connected to virtually on social media! They inspire me and help me every day and I want one huge Tweetup to get some real hugs!
14. If you could witness any historical event, what would you want to see?
A time in the future when the world is vegan. I think it will be beyond my lifetime – but hope that I can contribute in some way to that happening.
15. If given a chance, who would you like to be for a day?
The highest profile, most influential celebrity/person on earth (not sure who that would be!) so that I could use my platform to educate on veganism!