Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Antoine Plantoine (Instagram: @ant1plant1) and I’m from Birmingham in the UK although for the last 2 years I have been living in London. I work as a primary school teacher and a children’s cruise ship entertainer. I also work with teens on social action projects so as you can tell I enjoy working with young people. I also have two of my own children, a daughter 16 and son 10.
What lead you to veganism? How long ago?
In January 2017, my Mom recommended I watch Cowspiracy on Netflix and this helped me to become aware of some of the practices that go on in the meat and dairy industry. I decided to go vegan on the spot but continued to research veganism and concluded it would be better for my health, the environment and most importantly for the animals.
When you first went vegan how did you phase out your non-vegan food, clothing and other items?
I adopted a plant-based diet on the spot after watching a few documentaries and it took about 6/7 months to replace items such as belts, wallets, and watches, etc. I enjoyed going to vegan markets and events as I would always enjoy meeting other vegans who on the whole were very supportive and helpful.
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 children live with their mother and I see them on weekends they are not vegan but when with me I only give them plant-based and vegan food to eat. They love the food I give them and do hope in the future they will become vegans but I do not pressure them more just leading by example and explaining my reasons for my choices.
Do you believe we should show children the process of how animals are turned into meats?
Yes, definitely nothing should be hidden.
What does being vegan mean to you?
I’m always learning and finding out new things and just trying to be the best I can be without comparing myself to others. I keep researching when things come into question like air miles for avocados, water consumption for almonds and more recently truffles where some companies use dogs to mine them. If I’m not happy with how something is sourced, I will try and find an alternative or replacement that is more ethical. I do however appreciate that as a working able-bodied person I do have certain privileges that others may not have so my advice is to do the best you can do and don’t judge others.
Is it every vegan’s duty to become an activist?
I don’t believe it is as everyone is different and what comes easy for some is not easy for others but there are many ways to promote a vegan lifestyle such as bringing snacks for others, having conversations about sustainability and meat-free alternatives.
How compassionate or empathetic are you towards non-vegans?
I have many family and friends who are not vegan and I only became vegan aged 31. I use the term planting seeds to give information in a non-judgmental way it seems to work as many people enjoy querying me or asking questions out of interest.
Any recommended Vegan books?
Rachael Ama Vegan Eats and Bish Bash Bosh are two of my favourites.
Any recommended social sites, blogs or pages?
Do you have a favorite movie or videos or your own media that you want to share?
I have appeared in the media a few times over the last couple of years for things such as Channel 4’s Tricks of the Restaurant Trade S5 E2, Vegan Life Magazine Sep 2019 and in the Subway advert for the launch of the Meatless Meatball Marinara sandwich Jan 2020. I always put these on my Instagram page @ant1plant1. The main reason for this page is just to showcase vegan food, events, and products while also promoting vegan businesses.
What’s your favorite Vegan restaurant?
Very close between Cookdaily and Picky Wops but Cookdaily just edges it for me.
Please share your favorite vegan recipe?
I cook mainly stir-fry dishes and I never use a recipe because I like the surprise of it tasting different each time. Any recipe from Rachel Ama’s Vegan Eats book would be a great choice. She has a lot of Caribbean inspired dishes which is my background plus she has a YouTube channel showing her make most dishes and even a playlist to jam along to while cooking.
Some encouraging words for new Vegans?
Just remember why you are doing your ‘why’ will always help you when times get hard as it’s hard to change a lifetime of habits without slip-ups or moments of doubt. I usually find people who do it for the animals have the strongest as they no longer see animal products as food.
What is the vegan scene like in your city?
London is a great place to be as there are many markets, socials, meet-ups and festivals that happen throughout the year. There are also many fantastic independent vegan restaurants so London really is at the forefront of the growing vegan movement with areas such as Hackney, Shoreditch, and Camden becoming mini vegan villages.
What personal recommendations can you make for people to meet other vegans?
Joining Facebook groups and connecting with others over Instagram has helped me to meet literally hundreds of other vegans around the UK and even further. In fact, I’m actually attending a vegan festival in Belgium called Vegamping in July thanks to someone I got chatting to at a UK vegan festival.
What does living cruelty-free mean to you?
I’ve always had strong core morals and treating all people with respect is definitely one of them. I’m against all types of discrimination and will speak out where I feel I have enough knowledge and understanding to do so.
What are your favorite Vegan non-food products or companies?
I’m getting more and more aware of sustainability so zero waste shops like Greener Habits Co. and online company Zero Waste Club are two of my favourite Vegan non-food stores.
What is the toughest Vegan item to find that you need?
Definitely cheese is the toughest as they can be very hit or miss depending on personal preferences. Recently a brand has started selling smoked applewood cheese and it’s the best one I have tasted so there is hope.
Talk about a time when you struggled with your Veganism?
I travel to other countries a lot when I work in children’s entertainment on cruise ships and it sometimes means that some destinations can be very hard to find a vegan restaurant or even a vegan option in a restaurant. Luckily there is a website and app called HappyCow which lists vegan, vegetarian and vegan options in restaurants in 185+ countries. I am proud to be an official ambassador for them and you can find many of my reviews from the 46 countries I have visited on their site/app.