Viva La Vegan!

On Sunday I'll be in Sydney for the Cruelty Free Festival. I'll be giving a talk at 4:30pm on "Veganism & Ethics Beyond the Plate" hope to see you there.

SpeakerVIP_Leigh-Chantelle

The Cruelty Free Festival website recently interviewed me, which you can check out here. In the interview I speak about my vegan journey, the evolution of Viva la Vegan!, my inspiration to become a speaker and activist, and what to expect at my talk on the weekend.

Leigh-Chantelle has been a vegan for almost 20 years and has been heavily involved with multiple cruelty free events and movements over that time including starting her own website Viva La Vegan. She will be talking at the festival about the intersectionality of veganism and how we can go further than just the diet aspect. She chatted to us about her vegan story and upcoming speech.

READ THE WHOLE INTERVIEW HERE or below

1. Tell us how your vegan story started and what inspired to become a speaker and activist.

I became vegetarian when I was in year 10 once I made the connection between my life and the life that once was and I was about to consume (roast leg of lamb). From there I stopped eating “red” meat, and due to looking after chickens at a month-long school camp that year, made me stop eating chickens as well. I went vegetarian as I didn’t want anyone to die for me. I found out a couple of years later about how horrible the dairy and egg industries are for our animal friends – being used and abused over and over is probably worse than death – and became vegan in January 1997 and am coming up to my 20th anniversary. It was a great deal different then. I had to give up ice cream and chocolate and there really weren’t many vegan alternatives. Nowadays there’s just so many vegan products, restaurants and more that it’s so easy!

I graduated from studying Naturopathy, Nutrition and Western Herbal Medicine 10 years ago, and decided to release a vegan recipe calendar for 2006. This soon became my website vivalavegan.net - celebrating our 10th anniversary at the end of the year! It really was just started to promote my recipe calendars (2006-2008) but as there wasn’t any websites like this – other than the Animal Liberation and Vegan/Veg societies – I had a lot of requests and great feedback from others on things to add. The website has had blogs, articles, interviews, a forum, videos, recipes, members section, mentors, and so much more over the past 10 years. I’m just about to re-launch the new and improved website.

I spoke out and wrote about about veganism, feminism and animal rights and was interviewed by a variety of people and publications. When I first became vegan, I joined in with all that Animal Liberation Queensland and the Vegetarian/Vegan Society of Queensland needed help with – from stalls in shopping centres, folding and posting newsletters, answering phones, handing out leaflets and more. I’ve also been on a variety of animal rights, environmental, and arts committees over the years, and even founded and ran my own not-for-profit Green Earth Group (2009-2013) to put on Brisbane’s first all-vegan environmental festival. I learned so much about people, volunteers, consumers, the mainstream and myself from this experience and you can read all about it in my free eBook.

As with pretty much everything to do with Viva la Vegan!, someone would have asked me to give a talk on veganism at a vegan event and I would have said yes. Communication in all its forms is my forte, so I enjoy speaking, writing and interviewing people. Over the years, speaking, training and consulting has become my job – not just for veganism and the vegan lifestyle, but also for understanding social media and staging effective events. I do love it and I look forward to speaking at the Cruelty Free Festival.

2. What was the inspiration behind starting online vegan community Viva La Vegan and what has the response been like?

Once I graduated from studying Naturopathy, Nutrition and Western Herbal Medicine 10 years ago, I decided to release a vegan recipe calendar for 2006 – thinking this was a bit easier than writing a recipe book, which I’ve also now done. My vivalavegan.net website was started 10 years ago primarily to promote my recipe calendars. It’s been a gradual evolution from then to now. People wanted recipes, so I added them. People wanted information on the vegan lifestyle, so I wrote it. My followers have requested many different things and I’ve then created and added them. From a search button to blogs, articles, interviews, a forum, videos, recipes, members section, mentors, and so much more. It’s really been a pretty amazing ride. I can’t wait for you all to see the new and improved version!

3. What can people expect from your talk at the festival?

I’ve been vegan for almost 20 years. There’s been ebbs and flows of relevant vegan information getting into the mainstream over that time. From no fur campaigns, Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC), various instances of animals being liberated from their prisons, and more media attention to the way animals are treated e.g. animal testing, live animal trade, wool, greyhounds etc. But one thing I’ve noticed in the past 5 years is the plethora of vegan blogs, online posts on Social Media, events, talks and people who are primarily or only focused on food, and plant-based, health and aesthetic aspects of veganism – to the detriment of the ethics and animal rights issues.

I personally think that the term “vegan” has been watered down – especially in mainstream media – with so many people not really knowing or caring about the whole vegan ethical lifestyle. Some vegans think that being vegan is where their compassion can stop. There are so many other issues and ethics that I hope I can raise people’s awareness towards in my talk. I gave a similar talk in Canberra recently at the Living Green Festival which people can watch. In my talk at the Cruelty Free Festival in Sydney, I’ll be focusing more on the intersectionality aspects of veganism, how we can all aim to do a bit better, and work at consciousness-raising going forward. Hope to see you there.

4. What are you looking forward to at the festival?

I was at the first festival my good friend Jessica Bailey from The Cruelty Free Shop started 10 years ago and have been an MC, music performer, stall holder, speaker, volunteer and more over most of the years the festival has been on. I’ve been overseas for the past few events, so I’m looking forward to being a part of the festival again. I’ll be promoting the 10th anniversary of vivalavegan.net and my upcoming vegan athletes book (http://veganathletesbook.com/), as well as looking forward to seeing the new venue and all my interstate friends, eating great vegan food, and really just focusing on networking and socialising as I only have the talk and book signing to do!

Thank you so much Leigh-Chantelle for telling us about the amazing work you do for the vegan cause. We very much look forward to seeing you at the festival!

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