Being Vegan, Vegan Being – Louise Soutar – As Vegans, We Need to Help People Make a Connection Through Love and Kindness.

My name is Louise (aka Lou) Soutar, I am 28 years old from Scotland, UK. I have been traveling the world for 7 years now visiting places such as Austria, New Zealand, The Cook Islands, America, Canada, Bali and many more. Travelling is my passion! I love meeting new people and seeing the amazing places the world has to offer. I currently live in Melbourne, Australia and have been here on and off for the last 3 years. I have just finished Barber school and work at The vegie bar and Girls & Boys vegan dessert shop on Brunswick Street, Fitzroy.

How long have you been Vegan?

I turned vegan 3 years ago when I arrived in Melbourne.

What was the moment you realize that you wanted to go vegan?

My best friend Charlotte and I both decided to turn vegan on the same day and have never looked back. Cowspiracy was the last turning point for me to solidify my choice to be vegan. The documentary highlighted not only the brutality animals face every day at the hands of humans but the effects the meat and dairy industry have on the planet. I became obsessed with gaining as much knowledge as I could. The knowledge that went against everything I had been told growing up. I grew up with family members who worked in different aspects of the medical industry including myself who was training to be a doctor for 3 years. I decided to give up my training and go traveling. And here I am, 7 years later. I now want to study plant-based nutrition as a way of healing disease and illness.

Living in Melbourne has been the best place for me to transition to a vegan lifestyle. I am surrounded by some of the best vegan cafes and restaurants in the world, in my opinion. Working at The Vegie Bar has also allowed me to be surrounded and interact with like-minded individuals from around the world. These amazing humans have encouraged me to do more as a vegan and have opened my eyes to animal activism. So much animal activist events happen in Melbourne daily and I am encouraging others around me to make a difference and do as many activist events as possible. We need to get the word out there and allow people to know the truth of where their food comes from.

Why is being Vegan important to you?

Being vegan is hugely important to me for so many reasons. I am an animal lover who has witnessed first hand terrified animals going into a slaughterhouse to be killed for human consumption and feeling so helpless. I knew I had to do as much as humanly possible to end this and make a change to this unjust industry. I have met so many inspirational people along the way such as Joey Carbstrong, James Aspey, Dim from Sacred Scribble and many more, who have encouraged me to never stop fighting for animal rights. Animal activist groups such as ‘Melbourne Pig Save’ and ‘Anonymous for the Voiceless’, have allowed me to participate in events around Melbourne and be a voice for the animals. Being apart of these events have allowed me to see how much of a difference they can make to people who might not be aware of the horrific cruelty animals face every day. I have had so many friends contact me from around the world to say that posts I have put up on Facebook or videos I’ve posted on Instagram have made them want to transition to a vegan lifestyle. Many have contacted me for advice on how to transition or just for some knowledge on food that they can incorporate into their diet in order to get away from meat and dairy. I never imagined I would have this positive affect on people I value so much in my life. It feels so good to help people make the connection and want to turn Vegan.

Any recommended Vegan books?

Books that have changed my life include
‘The China Study’, by T. Colin Campbell
‘Whole’, by T. Colin Campbell
‘How not to Die’, By Dr. Michael Grege

Any recommended social sites, Facebook Groups or other? (Instagram)
Anonymous for the voiceless (facebook)
Melbourne Pig save
Melbourne Chicken Save
Melbourne Cow Save
Sea Shepherd Melbourne (facebook)

Do you have a favorite movie or videos or your own media that you want to share?

Forks over knives
What the Health
The Cove

Do you actively promote veganism?

I promote Veganism daily mainly by openly talking about it, whether it be with customers who come into the restaurant/vegan dessert shop, through social media or with friends while out for lunch and dinner. Being so passionate about something means you want to talk about it all the time. I don’t believe pushing ‘veganism’ in people’s faces helps, especially when they don’t want to know or hear about it. It generally has the opposite effect and makes people shut down. I like to promote and approach veganism in an open and friendly manner if people want to know more they will ask. I will happily provide the knowledge and information I have gained through research, documentaries, books etc in order to help anyone wanting to make the change to become vegan.

I have just started doing animal activist work here in Melbourne but it has only ignited my passion to do as much as humanly possible to protect and save as many animals as I can and to promote the importance of turning to a vegan way of life. I one day hope to be able to open an animal sanctuary where animals who are rescued can roam free and be safe from harm. I want to study plant-based medicine and nutrition to be able to give people the tools and knowledge in order to heal themselves with good plant-based nutrition and make them realize that we can live a happy healthy lifestyle without the need for meat and dairy. We need to re-educate peoples way of thinking which will not happen overnight, but change is apparent and is happening. As vegans, we need to help people make the connection through love and kindness.

What is your favorite Vegan meme?

What is the vegan stereotype you hear the most and how do you respond to it?

“Vegans only like animals, not people”.
“Vegans force and ram information down people’s throat”.
“If we don’t eat meat, we won’t be able to survive on just plants alone, Vegans are deficient in so many ways, they lack iron”.

These are statements made by people who do not, or refuse to have an understanding of what veganism stands for. People refuse to believe the destruction caused by the meat and dairy industry and the effect it is having on the earth. Others refuse to believe the torment and torture animals endure at the hands of the people who work at the slaughterhouses. People also don’t believe animals are sentimental beings who do not want to die and feel pain like us, they see them as objects rather than living beings. We are made to believe our whole life that farm animals are on this earth for us to eat. And that the dairy industry is a happy place where happy cows roam free in grass fields and produce milk for us, without the use of artificial insemination. We as Vegans know the real truth and know this is not the case. I feel as a vegan, who loves animals of all shapes and sizes and who cares about the planet, I should help educate people who want to be vegan too and want to know the truth about where their food comes from. We as vegans know that all plants contain protein, more so than meat can ever provide. We also are knowledgeable enough to know that dairy is harmful to our bodies and bones and does not provide us with calcium. We also know the process of how meat gets to our plate and the damage it does to the body and the animals that paid the price for it. However, we have chosen to make the connection and find out the truth. We were not always vegans and once believed the lies too. But we managed to make the transition and turn Vegan so there is hope for anyone.

What’s your favorite Vegan restaurant?

My favorite vegan Restaurant…there are so many here in Melbourne…

Yong Green Foods, on Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne. Yong’s is amazing, they specialize in raw and vegan food ranging from Macro Dragon Bowls, full of fresh vegetables, rice, tahini sauce and miso soup to raw cheesecake and smoothies.

Another favourite of mine is ‘Urban Projuice’. This is a cafe in Albert Park, Melbourne. It has one of the best breakfast/ brunch menus I have ever seen. I highly recommend the Avocado smash and the Pink Panther smoothie. I can’t get enough of the place, I am there at least once a week!!

Please share your favorite vegan recipe?

Favourite Vegan recipe. I am addicted to smoothie bowls at the moment because it is so hot here in Melbourne right now. I found a great one on an Instagram page I follow called ‘earthyandy’, Andy posts the best vegan unprocessed healthy recipes EVER! She creates ice cream cookies, smoothie bowls, curries, sushi burritos (I KNOW RIGHT WHAAAAAT!) check her page out….amazing!

Some encouraging words for new Vegans?

Encouraging words for new vegans…. Making a lifestyle change is not easy and takes time. Doing a little each day and being aware of where your food comes from is step one. Do the research and find your own journey to a better way of living. There is so much information on the internet now via Facebook, Instagram, documentaries (Netflix) and books that the knowledge is so easily accessible. There are also so many groups that are on hand to help you every step of the way with information and recipes. These groups also act as a support if you have a questions or queries about becoming vegan. This is not something you have to do alone! “change begins on your plate”

What does Cruelty-Free mean to you?

‘Cruelty free’ was something that took time to fully transition to, I was unaware that products I believed to be organic and natural were being tested on animals! I wasn’t aware that the makeup, face wash, moisturizer, hand wash, shoes etc, I was using could potentially have come from a place where animals were being subjected to pain and suffering. Doing research on the internet and talking to friends who were vegan made me realize that it is so easy to adapt to a fully cruelty-free lifestyle. There are so many affordable products out there that are cruelty-free such as ‘Sukin’ which is an Australian owned company, fully vegan and cruelty-free. It is the only skincare range I use now and I love it. I’ve switched all my makeup to cruelty-free and vegan products such as, ‘Kat Von D’, which is a makeup range, openly vegan and Kat herself fights for animal rights. I follow some youtube pages which only use cruelty-free, vegan brands that are all available in Australia. Some of these Youtube channels include; (Monamifrost) (Kristenxleanne) (bellejorden)

What are your favorite Vegan non-food products?

My favorite nonfood vegan products have to be;

Pacifica Beauty
Kat Von D
Anastasia Beverly Hills
House of Lashes
Black Moon Cosmetics
Arctic Fox hair color (vegan cruelty free hair dye)
Urban Decay

Is there any non-vegan items that you miss or vegan items which hard to find?

There isn’t a vegan item that I miss or cannot find? I have always loved fruit and veg and I am not a fan of mock items such as meat and cheese, I didn’t eat those things when I wasn’t vegan so for me cutting them out completely was not a challenge for me. I think the location where I currently live allows me to be spoilt for choice. Every corner has an amazing cafe or restaurant with vegan options so I am very lucky. I love cooking at home and can source organic fruit and veg very easily around my area. So much amazing things can be done with fruit and vegetables if you are willing to research the recipes and be creative.

Have you ever struggled with your veganism?

The only time I have struggled with veganism was when I lived in Austria. I was doing a snowboard season in the Austrian Alps and it is the only time I have truly felt isolated. I constantly had to defend myself against people who did not understand why I would choose to give up meat and dairy and eating out was out of the question. When eating at a restaurant and telling the staff I could not have any animal products they assured me I had to have cheese or butter in order for the dish to taste ‘good’. I felt that because they did not have an understanding of my lifestyle choices they didn’t feel the need to take my request seriously. On more than one occasion I found out butter or cheese had been added to the dish which I had specifically asked to be Vegan. Maybe it was lack of communication or like I said before, they didn’t understand what ‘Vegan’ meant? Maybe it was confused with ‘Vegetarian’? The bright side to this was the local supermarket had quite a few vegan options such as tempeh and tofu and even vegan cheese and nut milk on offer. So while eating out was a challenge, cooking at home was easy. Tacos were always my go-to favorite!!

What is a question you would like to ask other vegans?

My question to other Vegans would be…

“Apart from doing your part for the animals, what other benefits have you noticed after becoming vegan”?

For me, I have become a lot more aware of what I put into my body. For example, I have become fascinated with nutrition and believe the energy (food) you put into your body has either a positive or negative reaction to the energy you give out. I fully believe that eating a whole food plant based diet has a huge effect on your mental and physical wellbeing. I was always a fan of yoga but after turning Vegan and researching more nutrition based academia I realized there was more to it than just one component. Yoga, plant-based nutrition, meditation and exercise all have a big part to play in your overall wellbeing.

I have also discovered how beautiful and friendly the vegan community is and always been fascinated with the journey each individual has taken to becoming vegan. I have met so many wonderful people around the world who not only want to see all animals free from pain but want to come together as a collective to make a change. It restores your faith in humanity. Be Kind, Go Vegan!!

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