Tell us a little about yourself.
Hey! My name is Katy Gregory and I am a primary school teacher and special needs coordinator, specializing in Early Years education. I also have my own Arbonne business which has given me the income to go Part Time at school. This means I have been able to spend way more time with my gorgeous little boy. Arbonne is a completely vegan company in the health and wellness industry and all products are botanically based. We range from Nutrition (the chocolate protein powder is the best I have ever tasted) to make-up and skin care for all age ranges from birth to 80! To have a look at our products head over to my website at www.katygregory.arbonne.com.
What lead you to veganism? How long ago?
I have only been a vegan for around nine months and I am loving it!!
I was led to veganism through different exposures over a period of around two years. I first became interested after stumbling across a YouTube video by Kalel Kitten who is now just known as Kalel and she was talking about being vegan and what it meant to her. This triggered something inside of me and I began to do research around veganism but never fully committed, although I did hugely reduce my meat intake. After a few months, the What the Health documentary came out on Netflix and I had a lightbulb realization where I realized that I could no longer eat animals and be ok with myself. This spiraled into watching a lot more documentaries on Netflix around veganism and I have never looked back.
When you first went vegan how did you phase out your non-vegan food, clothing and other items?
I began to be vegan through using the Arbonne 30 Days to Healthy Living programme where I committed to a plant-based, vegan diet and used the Arbonne nutrition and meal plans to help me day today and it just went from there.
I found chocolate to be the hardest thing to move away from but then I discovered Vego chocolate at a vegan festival and when I heard they sold them at Holland and Barrett I was able to cut out dairy chocolate completely. Another thing I really struggled to phase out was sour cream but I just had to really focus hard on my beliefs and I was able to stop eating it. As for clothing, I am still looking for ethical clothing companies to transition my clothing over to and I can’t wait to get my hands on an Angela Roi bag. I am saving up for one right now!
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?
I don’t make exceptions for myself or my son but my husband is not vegan. I thought that this would be a struggle but he has been amazingly accepting and most nights will eat whatever I am cooking and has seen great benefits to his weight and health due to this. He still eats meat but only when he is buying it in a restaurant or out of the house as he respects our kitchen space. My son is not old enough for school yet and I am considering home-schooling him, however, if we do send him to mainstream school then he will have vegan dietary requirements at school and I will expect the school to respect that.
Do you believe we should show children the process of how animals are turned into meats?
As a mother, I personally do not believe in showing children the process until they are of an age where they can fully understand and emotionally handle it. I would rather explain to my son what happens rather than showing him. He can research it all for himself, with support from me where needed, when he is old enough to understand.
What does being vegan mean to you?
Being vegan to me means respect for all animals including insects! I have no problem with vegan companies being owned by nonvegan parent companies as long as the philosophy of the company I am buying into is correct. I haven’t found that I treat others any differently to how I treated them before being vegan.
Is it every vegan’s duty to become an activist?
I feel that as a vegan it is important to educate others and I like to do this subtly and provoke questioning from people. I do not agree with forcing our beliefs onto people. If people are forced upon then they are likely to get defensive and turn away from ever listening again and this is not what we want to achieve.
How compassionate or empathetic are you towards non-vegans?
I am totally understanding of non-vegans as I was one myself for many years. Until people are educated and fully understand or have some kind of connection or light bulb moment they are not likely to turn away from their non-vegan lifestyles as they enjoy the food too much and don’t realize the benefits of a vegan lifestyle.
Any recommended Vegan books?
I have recently read and enjoyed reading, Alicia Silverstone’s ‘The Kind Diet’ and I also love Aime Carlin’s ‘Keep it Vegan’ and Ella Woodward’s ‘Deliciously Ella’ for recipe ideas!
Any recommended social sites, blogs or pages?
I LOVE @jinti_fell on Instagram and her Youtube is my favorite go to! I also follow @ellenfisher and go to her Youtube channel regularly for inspiration. I also enjoy Kalel on Youtube and Monami Frost – the vegan family trying out different vegan foods and showing us what they feed their vegan daughter.
Do you have a favorite movie or videos or your own media that you want to share?
I really enjoyed Okja and would recommend this as a movie to watch with your nonvegan friends. I also recommend What the Health, Forks Over Knives and Cowspiracy on Netflix, all of these documentaries really helped to educate me.
What’s your favourite Vegan restaurant?
Unfortunately, where I live there are no vegan restaurants. There is, however, a friendly little vegan cafe called the Good Apple Cafe in Sunderland that I would highly recommend! I love their vegan special wrap and sweet potato fries!
Please share your favorite vegan recipe?
My current favorite is vegan enchiladas gluten-free – from the Arbonne 30 Days to Healthy Living programme!
8 gluten-free tortillas
3 cups fresh spinach
2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 425g can black beans drained & rinsed 1 cup diced zucchini
1-2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 TBSP any GF flour (almond or brown rice flour) 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa
2 TBSP chili powder
1 tsp cayenne chili powder (optional)
1 tsp dried oregano or marjoram
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp garlic powder
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup water
1 can tomato sauce (450 g) Salt to taste
METHOD FOR THE FILLING
Lightly sauté garlic and spinach in the lime juice until just wilted. Once cooked, add to a large bowl with black beans & other veggies. Add the chili powder and salt and mix until everything is evenly incorporated. Set bowl aside as you prepare the sauce.
FOR THE SAUCE
Whisk together the flour, cocoa, and spices in a saucepan without turning on the heat. Add 1⁄4 cup of vegetable broth and stir into a paste. Slowly whisk in the remaining broth and the cup of water.
Bring to a boil over medium heat and whisk in tomato sauce. Allow cooking for a few minutes until it thickens slightly to the consistency of tomato soup. Remove from heat and set aside. You may need to add some depending on the saltiness of the broth you used.
ASSEMBLING THE ENCHILADAS
To fill the enchiladas, you need to make an assembly line. Have your tortillas, casserole dish, bowl with the filling, sauce, and a pie pan or skillet filled with 3⁄4 cup of the sauce ready to go. Spread a little of the enchilada sauce in your casserole dish.
Drop a tortilla into your pie plate or skillet and let it get covered in sauce. Flip so each side gets coated (this allows the tortilla to soften so you can roll it up into enchiladas). If your tortillas are still not softening enough even after they’ve been soaked in sauce, you can also gently heat them for about 30 seconds before soaking in sauce. Now, place the tortilla either in the casserole dish (the easiest way) or on an additional plate.
Scoop a few dollops of filling onto the left side of the tortilla and roll it up. Continue with the rest of the tortillas, packing them tightly next to each other in the casserole dish. Pour about a cup of sauce over the top of the enchiladas, save the rest of the sauce for serving later. Bake in the oven uncovered for about 20-30 minutes until the tortilla edges become crisp.
Serve with the remaining sauce (warmed slightly) and some of the coriander lime brown rice (optional). Sprinkle with fresh coriander (optional). Enjoy!
Some encouraging words for new Vegans?
Well first of all a huge congratulations on choosing a kinder, safer, beneficial lifestyle. Don’t be hard on yourself if you find you make a few mistakes along the way, it honestly gets easier as time goes on and will become natural to you after a month or so. You will find food that you love and it will replace your old cravings! My current new fav is mangoes or sliced apple dipped in almond butter! Just take it day by day and have a plan for the week! Make sure you have plenty to snack on and ideas for your main meals. If you do not have any vegan friends then the Facebook page UK Vegan is great for asking questions and connecting with other vegans.
What is the vegan scene like in your city?
I live in a small village on the outskirts of Sunderland. There are very few vegans where I live, however, there is a fantastic Vegan Festival held at The Stadium of Light every year and there is always a tremendous turnout. I am continuously on the lookout for vegan groups and events in my area but find I need to travel to Newcastle for most which are no problem.
What personal recommendations can you make for people to meet other vegans?
Connecting online through social media, going along to vegan festivals and chatting! From my experience, vegans are always happy to chat and make new connections! Setting up a Facebook group and promoting it so that other people join your page is a great way to stay in control and meet fellow vegans!
What are you favorite Vegan non-food products or companies?
I love Arbonne International for skincare and makeup (all botanically based) and their nutrition supplements such as their Chocolate protein, fiber boost, and Fizz Sticks! Vego chocolate is an absolute favorite of mine. My favorite company is the VeganKind which is basically an online supermarket that I use all of the time to get products that you struggle to get elsewhere! They also do monthly subscription boxes which are so exciting!
What is the toughest Vegan item to find that you need?
Sour cream, hands down!!
Talk about a time when you struggled with your Veganism?
My main struggle was trying to get my friends to accept me as a vegan. Many of them thought I was just going through a phase and would mock me, send me misinformed articles and talk about me as if I wasn’t there which really hurt my feelings at first, especially when they all discussed my choice in a text group where I could read everything they said. I stayed strong and powered through the comments though, realizing that it was my life choice and so not really the business of anyone else and now all of my friends have accepted that I am not just doing it as a fad and that it is a part of who I am. They are actually really supportive now and send me recipes and recommend places to eat to me when they see things I would enjoy which is really nice.