Hi, I’m The Vegan Punk, I live in Leeds in the UK and I’m a vegan blogger and animal liberation activist. I’m a freelance digital marketer and I help vegan businesses to grow online.
What lead you to veganism? How long ago?
I went vegan five and a half years ago and I was actually vegetarian for about eight years before that. I’m not sure why it took me so long; at the risk of sounding pretentious, all I can put it down to is a growth in consciousness – which in my case unfortunately took many years!
When you first went vegan how did you phase out your non-vegan food, clothing and other items?
Cutting out eggs and dairy wasn’t that difficult, though it made things a bit more awkward when eating out. It’s identifying and cutting out all the other goods that contain ‘hidden’ animal ingredients that I found more difficult, and then the items which may be vegan in the sense that they do not contain animal products, but which I would not consider compatible with the vegan lifestyle due to having been produced by companies that test on animals, or the fact they contain palm oil etc. You have to be constantly on guard, though this does get easier the longer you’re vegan.
Do you make any exceptions for yourself or if you are married with kids – your family, when it comes to veganism? For example, how strict are you with your children’s veganism at school or at family gatherings?
My partner is vegan and so too is our son. He’s only two so we have yet to see how things will work out when he starts school, though we haven’t had any issues in terms of the food his childminder gives him. Family gatherings aren’t really an issue as my immediate family is supportive of my lifestyle and happy to cook vegan for everyone.
Do you believe we should show children the process of how animals are turned into meats?
Yes, I think kids should be made to see the process, and I would hope that seeing the process would turn a lot more children at least vegetarian. Just seeing the process isn’t enough though – we need to educate children from birth that any human exploitation of animals is immoral and that it’s the fact we use animals at all, rather than the way we use them, which is wrong. If we don’t do this the meat industry will try and manipulate kids into believing supposedly ‘high welfare’ animals products are acceptable. The animal agriculture industry will try and sugarcoat reality to keep themselves in business.
What does being vegan mean to you? For example, does it extend to not killing bugs and bees? Does it include not patronizing vegan companies owned by non-vegan parent companies? Does it affect the way you treat other humans?
I would never deliberately kill bugs, bees, or any other kind of insect! Though unfortunately we obviously do unintentionally kill them all the time, this is pretty much unavoidable.
Regarding non-vegan parent companies, in an ideal world everything we buy would be 100% vegan throughout its entire production process, but at the present time, that’s unrealistic. I shop in supermarkets so it would be absurd for me to pass judgment on someone else for buying a vegan product produced by a non-vegan parent company.
I have to be honest and admit that being vegan has made me more cynical about humans as a species. When every day you see and read about the things humans do to animals, it’s hard not to lose faith in human nature. Vegan activists stop me from becoming completely misanthropic!
Is it every vegan’s duty to become an activist?
If someone is able to engage in activism then I certainly think they should, even if it’s just talking to friends and family and educating them about veganism. I appreciate though that not everyone is a position where they are able to take part in activism, so I’d be very wary of saying it’s someone’s duty.
How compassionate or empathetic are you towards non-vegans?
I don’t have a problem with non-vegans unless they are rude or offensive about vegans and veganism. If someone is polite and interested, there’s always a chance they could be positively influenced by the information you share and become vegan themselves. I do find it difficult to feel empathy towards omnivores who are offensive about veganism and it’s even more difficult to feel compassion for those who actually take pleasure in animal abuse and murder i.e. bloodsports participants.
Any recommended Vegan books?
It’s not really a vegan book, but Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation had a big impact on me.
Any recommended social sites, blogs or pages?
Check out the Hunt Saboteurs Association – a UK network of animal activists who take direct action to stop animals being hunted and killed
Do you have a favorite movie or videos or your own media that you want to share?
Earthlings, Cowspiracy… all the usual ones really
Some encouraging words for new Vegans?
Don’t take as long as I did to make the transition and just do it! You won’t look back.
What is the vegan scene like in your city?
The animal activist scene is strong in Leeds, with several different groups regularly holding protests and carrying out actions. The vegan food scene could be better but it’s definitely improving, vegan options are widely available and we at least have two entirely vegan eateries now.
What personal recommendations can you make for people to meet other vegans?
The best way to meet other vegans is to get involved in animal activism if you are able to. I’ve met lots of vegans this way. Joining local online vegan communities is a great idea too.
What does living cruelty-free mean to you? Does it extend to the way you as a vegan treats other humans too?
I obviously do not harm other humans but veganism is about non-human animals – vegans are not obliged to feel compassion towards other humans, particularly the ones who abuse and kill animals.
What is the toughest Vegan item to find that you need?
Wine! Though companies are getting better at labeling vegan wine now.
Talk about a time when you struggled with your Veganism?
I haven’t struggled with my veganism.