Today I have a very special interview subject, my blogging friend, Nicole English of Raw Kiwi. I ‘met’ Nicole on instagram first through her gorgeous raw food photos and her witty personality! Nicole has bags of enthusiasm and brilliant humour, with loads of life experience as the busy Mum of 5 children. I am inspired so much by the women I have seen carve out their online careers, up-skilling often, creating opportunities and promoting veganism in all kinds of ways. I wish Nicole’s new online store venture every success.
Q. How long have you been vegan? Did you transition slowly or fairly quickly?
A. According to my mum, I first started talking about being a vegetarian around the age of 7 years old. That request was mostly humored, ignored and denied so I went with the status quo until I had the power to do otherwise.
There wasn’t a lot of education in the late 70s and 80s surrounding a well balanced plant-based diet so I don’t blame her not knowing how to cater for my wishes, she did the best with the knowledge she had. I ate my way through most of the dairy variations in the world until 2003 when I tried a vegan detox and decided to stick at it. I was amazed at how good I felt and I like feeling good, so it made sense to keep eating that way. Still…I was only ever one cheesecake-binge away from returning to vegetarianism and eventually my addiction had me back into the mucus-forming pit of dairy hell. That was until Christmas of 2008 when I discovered the raw vegan diet. Then I was all-in. From this point on, I began my plant-based nutrition education. It became less about losing weight and more about understanding real nutrition, learning to pay attention to how certain foods affected my body and hormones, and (thanks to the Internet) I started to understand the impact of animal consumption.
So to answer your question..I guess the transition was slow.
Q. Can you tell us the biggest contributing factor in your decision to go vegan.
A. The biggest contributor would have to be health. Nearly everyone in my immediate and many in my extended families had, or has some form of cancer. That scares the shite out of me. I have five children so I made a conscious decision to do whatever I could to try and prevent the same outcome for myself and for them.
Q. You have a large family, are you all vegan? Is it hard to accommodate everyone in your household?
A. My husband is not vegan and the kids range from ages 5 through to 15 years old so I have more control over some than others. None of them are strictly vegan but they all eat a lot of plant-based food so it’s not difficult accommodating everyone. I eat very simple meals myself.
Q. Whats your current favourite vegan dish?
A. Well I’m pretty boring to be honest.. I eat mostly fruit and salad (and soups during winter) but my all time favourite cooked food is falafel.
Q. Best vegan restaurant/cafe where you live?
A. There aren’t any that I’m aware of. The best place to get vegan food in my area is my house.
Q. Best vegan restaurant/cafe you’ve ever been to?
A. I only eat out in juice and smoothie bars – told you I’m boring.
Q. Are you on a tight food budget? Is a vegan lifestyle affordable for you personally?
A. It’s completely affordable but of course it depends on your shopping habits. Plant-based food is much cheaper than buying meat, eggs and dairy.
Q. What do you tend to eat as staples on a daily basis and why?
A. We always have fruit, veg, rice and pasta in the house but I always eat fruit and vegetables everyday. It’s the best thing for my digestion and vitamin/mineral intake.
Q. Have those around you generally been supportive of your veganism?
A. Yes, totally supportive.
But I wouldn’t care either way if people weren’t. I don’t need others to support my decisions around my lifestyle choices. I find that the most critical people surrounding vegan diets, generally tend to look like they could do with putting down the beef burger and picking up a bowl of salad.
Q. Is it difﬁcult to ﬁnd vegan products in Australia, like clothing and make-up? Any favourites?
A. No it’s great actually. There seems to be a big market for cruelty-free products here.
Some of my favourite vegan brands are Kester Black (nail varnish)
Adorn Cosmetics and Delicious Skin.
Q. You’ve recently launched a new store on your popular vegan blog, Raw Kiwi. What prompted you and how has it been going?
A. It had been something I’d thought about doing for a long time but I’d keep putting it off because the start up seemed too complicated. Then recently a friend of mine explain the basic system to get started and I jumped into it the next day. It’s going well but like anything in small business, it’s a process and you’ve got to stick at it in order to gain momentum.
Q. Your photography is stunning. Do you think the photography industry, particularly food photography, is a difﬁcult industry for vegans to be successful in?
A. Thanks very much!
For commercial food photography I would say yes it’s difficult, unless you’re living in a highly populated vegan business area and you can position yourself as the go-to person for all things vegan photography ~ then you could dominate the niche.
Q. You have also created ebooks, any chance we will see a Raw Kiwi Cookbook in print soon?
A. Yes I think that it’s entirely possible.
Q. Do you see a vegan world in the future?
A. I think it’s pretty unrealistic in the near future but long-term, anything is possible.
Q. Finally, can you sum up in one sentence why you don’t think we should use animals?
A. Because there’s a better way.