Tell us a little about yourself.
I am Lisa Gawthorne, I am a vegan business owner, vegan author, and vegan athlete. I co-founded Bravura Foods nine years ago and we import, make and sell an innovative selection of vegan food and drink brands into the UK retail marketplace.
In 2012 I wrote the bite-sized health and fitness savior Gone in 60 Minutes. This is a book split into four easy to understand sections on diet, fitness, supplementation, and motivation and the whole book can be read in under 1 hour (hence the title) and it also includes a perpetual training calendar. I am a keen athlete and I have run for club (Liverpool Pembroke Sefton / Vegan Runners), county (Merseyside) and country (England) for my age group and I have been on team GB also for my age group for four years competing in seven international duathlons (run-bike-run) championship races around the world on both the European and world circuits.
I love all animals and I am vegan for the animals. You can follow me on Twitter @gonein60minutes and Instagram @lisa_gawthorne where I share fitness tips, help to inspire others and share a lot of images of cute animals including my cat Yoshi!
What lead you to veganism? How long ago?
I was vegetarian from age 6 after making the connection between meat and animals from a PETA leaflet and it was always my aim to go vegan. I was virtually vegan I just needed to cut out eggs which I did 17 years ago back in 2003 to go fully vegan. I am very vocal about being vegan for the animals as I am a strong believer they are not here to be used by humans for clothing or food, so I do it for the animals, the fact it has positive benefits on my health is, of course, an added bonus.
When you first went vegan how did you phase out your non-vegan food, clothing and other items?
I did a lot of research on the food front as nutrition is really important being an athlete. I bought a lot of books, read a lot of articles and just started following like-minded people on social media to swap tips with. I didn’t really have a strong leather/wool/silk based wardrobe and there was already a lot of cruelty free clothing coming on the market back in the early 2000’s so it wasn’t really an issue. If I spotted a pair of shoes I liked the look of in a store, as nice as they may look, if they were leather I would just switch off all emotion immediately as I wouldn’t want to wear any animal skin / parts ever.
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 have any children so that part I don’t need to factor in. I don’t consider my approach to my veganism as being “strict” as it’s so very alien to me to eat any foods from animal source so its just a way of life and to be honest when we are surrounded by so many tasty, kinder alternatives I see it as the only viable option for a healthier, kinder, cleaner future.
Do you believe we should show children the process of how animals are turned into meats?
Yes, I do – I think that this can be done in a watered-down manner for the younger audience – animation and question guessing can help here. I think it’s important they are given the truth at an early age so they themselves are aware and so they can make informed decisions and not just follow what someone tells them may be normal etc.
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 harm any living creature knowingly – if I see insects trapped in the house, I do set them free. I believe all living creatures with no voice deserve human kindness and protection. I also try as much as possible to support smaller businesses like my own that are founded and run by vegans who are passionate about vegan principles. Inevitably in the world, we now live in and the choice of vegan products we now have, sometimes I do select brands from the bigger businesses but wherever possible I try to keep it as close to the vegan-owned chain as much as I can.
Is it every vegan’s duty to become an activist?
The very choice of becoming vegan I already believe is a form of positive activism. It shows that you don’t want to exploit animals and that is a very important and strong stance to take and can also be infectious when you start to inform people of facts / figures / stats that they are not aware of regarding livestock cruelty, the meat production process and the conditions the animals are subject to. Some vegans take it a step further and enjoy marching and attending vigils, others prefer a more laid-back approach of just trying to educate close friends and family.
There is no right or wrong way to be vegan. Just being vegan is more than enough to save the lives of hundreds of animals each year and that is the most important factor to remember. I am also very fortunate running a vegan business has also allowed me to talk live on Sky News and BBC news in the UK about the thriving vegan market which again pushes the positive message home!
How compassionate or empathetic are you towards non-vegans?
I won’t lie and I am sure any vegan will agree with me on this one – I connect a lot easier with vegans as we are like-minded individuals motivated by the same cause. I am not overly preachy to non-vegans but I do share daily information in an informative and educational way that tries to challenge their meat-eating tendencies and offer them compelling info on the subjects of health, the environment, the planet and animal welfare. I always enjoy sharing this info and have been contacted by so many people who have said I inspired them to go vegan and that is such a great feeling.
Any recommended Vegan books?
Other than my own vegan health and fitness book :
How to go vegan – Veganuary
Vegan with a vengeance – Isa Chandra Moskowitz
How to create a vegan world – Tobias Leenaert
Any recommended social sites, blogs or pages?
I love the following and get a lot of really useful information from then:
Do you have a favorite movie or videos or your own media that you want to share?
I did a really informative podcast with Andy Grant and Tom Wickstead and its worth a listen.
What’s your favorite Vegan restaurant?
222 Veggie Vegan Cuisine, North End London – the chef there Ben creates the tastiest meals a vegan could ask for!
Please share your favorite vegan recipe?
Cashew nut, mixed vegetables and seitan curry done in a vegan Balti sauce with served with quinoa.
Some encouraging words for new Vegans?
Enjoy the journey! It’s never been so easy to go vegan as it is today – go out there and learn about all the new amazing foods you can buy and recipes you can create and be sure to share your best bits with others – it really encourages others to take the step when they see others enjoying it, thriving on it and doing great positive things with it.
What is the vegan scene like in your city?
Liverpool is my nearest city and to be honest it’s amazing, a load of local restaurants there have won awards for their vegan foods. Check this amazing link out to for the lowdown on the best ones favourite is Egg Café just off bold street, they do the most amazing cakes there too!
What personal recommendations can you make for people to meet other vegans?
If you are into running, join vegan runners, we are the fastest growing and largest athletics club in the UK with over 3,000 members! If you are not so bothered about sport or running, there are still plenty of other great groups, forums and pages you can like and follow to help expand your vegan network. Look up vegan events and fairs on Facebook and you will more often than not see other groups associated with the running of those events you can tap into. Also, just google your area for vegan groups as there are quite a lot about now all over the UK.
What does living cruelty-free mean to you? Does it extend to the way you as a vegan treats other humans too?
My primary objective is to defend animals – they have no voice and we have to be their voice. Humans on the other hand are given the gift of their voice to communicate with and to learn and make decisions with. I consider myself a very helpful kind soul that will go out of my way to help others and I guess part of being vegan by default makes you more caring in that way.
What are you favorite Vegan non-food products or companies?
Cosmetics – Tarte (USA), Revolution (Superdrug UK)
Toiletries – Original Source, Pacifica
Clothes – Viva La Vegan
Handbags – La Bante
Activism – Sea Shepard, PETA and Greenpeace
Information – Veganuary and Vegan Society
What is the toughest Vegan item to find that you need?
I have to be honest and I no longer struggle for any item. It used to be Ice Cream and now there are so many tubs of them on the market it’s amazing.
Talk about a time when you struggled with your Veganism?
I have never struggled with or questioned my decision to be vegan. I have never found my food choice difficult at all as I motivated by morals that put animals first but the one thing I do find difficult is when people are rude or inappropriately negative about veganism refusing to accept all the evidence supporting it. Often more than not when people actually take time to digest the info and then try the foods and get into a routine with it, they realize how easy it is but the difficult part is breaking down those barriers with some people.