Interview by Natalie Tabone
Photos by Meg Odgers
Where do you live?
What do you do?
Alcohol and other drug rehabilitation by day, vegan activist by night.
What did you have for breakfast?
My partner made me a vegan big breakfast: toast, mushrooms, tomato, spinach, baked beans, avocado and a hash brown.
When and why did you decide to go vegan?
I watched Forks over Knives four years ago this month and was afraid for my own health so I went vegan overnight. Due to initially being a dietary vegan I had a few dairy lapses in the early days. I’m happy to speak about the difficulty I had in the beginning of my veganism as I feel it makes me more personable but also a lot of the difficulty I had eating vegan in social situations a few years ago no longer exist now.
What does veganism mean to you?
Veganism has sentimental value to me as my best friend Ella made the connection when we were children. The tolerance and compassion she had for me over more than a decade when I was ignorant to the injustice on my plate, helps me find tolerance and compassion for the many non-vegans in my life. It was Ella that lent me Forks over Knives in 2013 – I’m so glad she did because it was my entry point into lifelong veganism. Initially veganism was a healthy lifestyle choice for me, a way of minimising my chance of diseases running rife though my family. When Cowspiracy came out I was just as angered as I had been when I watched Forks over Knives, as I have always cared passionately about environmental issues. Though I have practiced ethical veganism for many years now, it took me a long time to identify with it. Over the last 18 months I started a semi-anonymous blog The Thoughtful Vegan, primarily to express my thoughts with people I care about in a non-judgemental way. It’s been so much more rewarding than I could ever have anticipated, with various people within my life contacting me to say they have decided to go vegan or have reduced their consumption of animal products significantly. My experience of veganism has deepened to mean alignment with core values of integrity, empathy and justice. In many ways veganism has reconstructed my views of the world, people and spirituality.
What is something surprising/interesting you’ve discovered or realised since going vegan?
Through the process of researching various issues for my blog I have learnt so much interesting stuff. Something that never ceases to surprise me though is people’s reaction when they discover they are in the midst of a vegan – sometimes I feel like a unicorn. In a recent experience I enjoyed my meal silently whilst all my colleagues discussed at length their excuses for not being able to attempt or their previous failed attempts at trying to be vegan. I’d recently read Living Among Meat Eaters, I highly recommend it as I had previously found it difficult to cope in these situations.
Have you ever been called a forkin’ vegan?
I’m sure I have but people are usually too polite to say it to my face. An honourable mention goes to the women in the kitchen at a birthday in rural Victoria: when my partner asked if there was anything vegan to eat, she responded “there’s plenty of grass out the back”.
Describe a normal day in the life of Meg.
Wake up and have a breakfast or two before walking to work. I run psychoeducation groups at a Therapeutic Day Rehabilitation program and intensively case manage clients within the group – I really enjoy my job. Lately I have been walking back home in my lunch break too and squeeze in a bit of lunch break activism via Instagram. After work I usually go to a Yoga Dojo class, cook myself a nice meal and read or blog before bed.
What food best describes your personality?
Vegemite and avocado on seedy sourdough. I’m a salty Aussie who has a baby avocado tree and a sourdough addiction.
Sweet or savoury?
I have a slight preference for savoury but they’re a combination made in heaven. At the moment I am loving winter soups and bread followed by a few dates or raw treats.
What is your most memorable eating/dining experience?
My first Vegan Dinner at Tulip Bar and Restaurant with my first Geelong friend to go vegan, my girl Katie – it’s such a special memory. I was so lucky that their most recent Vegan Dinner fell on my birthday and I had lots more vegan friends to share the experience with.
What is your favourite song/album to listen to in the kitchen while cooking?
I am inclined to listen to podcasts whilst cooking, I have clocked Knowing Animals, a little gem in which animal study scholars and animal rights activists are interviewed about their work. Lately I’ve tried to incorporate cooking into my mindfulness practice by cooking in silence.
What is your speciality dish?
I try to make a new raw dessert for each special occasion. I made my partner a chocolate avocado cake for his birthday last week which was a hit in his non-vegan workplace.
If you could invite 3 people (historical or current) to dinner who would they be?
Peter Singer, I have had the honour of meeting him at one of his book launches but would love to get his opinions on everything. Melanie Joy, who I consider a role model (who I have also been lucky enough to meet!) and David Life the co-founder of Jivamukti yoga, who is totally mesmerising in his discussions about spirituality and metaphysics.
What would you serve?
I’d be too anxious to cook for these extraordinary people so I’d probably take them to Tulip!
Where is your favourite food destination?
There’s so many places! I’m obsessed with Fitzroy Melbourne (I went to Smith and Deli yesterday for lunch) and visited Newtown Sydney in March which did not disappoint! I travelled to Berlin prior to being vegan so would love to return there and also New York, someday.
What is your favourite thing to eat on a hot summer’s day?
On a cold winters night?
Indian curries and garlic naan.
Describe your perfect day.
A day involving lots of leisure reading, plenty of naps, a yoga practice, a soy chai latte, cuddles with my partner and other people’s pets.
You’ve been asked to contribute a recipe for an upcoming cookbook. What is it?
I’d ask my housemate Em to do it on my behalf, she creates incredible vegan food for a living so has much better cooking credentials than me.
If you were a vegetable what would you be?
A purple carrot, if only I were that cool.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Loving Earth chocolate (the packaging is compostable!)
You’re on death row and it’s your last meal. What do you eat?
All the Soul Burgers.
How do you think we can each make the world a better place?
Tolerance of difference including people who aren’t yet ready or may actually never want to be vegan, avoiding single use plastic, growing as much of our own food as we can, exploring our own personal spirituality, helping people and animals less fortunate than ourselves and sharing the joy of vegan food, especially with our children.
What’s the best thing about being you right now?
I am loved and I have plenty of books to read.
What are your plans for 2017?
I’m going to continue working and blogging for the rest of the year. I have been saving towards Jivamukti Yoga Teacher Training for many years, it is one of the only methods which retains animal rights advocacy and veganism as integral to yoga. I’ll be heading off to India for the month of February 2018!
Anything else you’d like to add?
The Forkin Vegan is forkin awesome.
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