Interview by Natalie Tabone
Photos by Janet Kearney
Where do you live?
We’re just outside NYC, in the suburbs, we moved after we had our son, because tiny apartment living was getting a little stressful.
I’m originally from Ireland though, and I met husband who is from the UK, when I was backpacking for two years. I was in Perth Australia for a few weeks and so was he. We kept in contact for a few years, and he then moved in Toronto, that’s a short skip from NYC.
What do you do?
I work in Manhattan for a construction management company in their accounts department. So I leave around 6am on weekdays. Then in the evenings, we have a mini urban farm, and I can usually be found during the warmer months sowing seeds or harvesting food with the kids.
Myself and some friends run a popular Facebook vegan parenting group, and gearing up for the first Vegan Parenting Website, so it’s busy at the moment.
What did you have for breakfast?
Ha, this morning it was a black coffee, an orange that I managed to half blind myself with the juice squirting out, and some toast.
When and why did you decide to go vegan?
When I was pregnant a good few years ago. I had never really given food much thought before, apart from the ‘okay, stop with the fries, this isn’t healthy’ kind of thing. A friend of mine had recently become vegan after watching ‘Earthlings’ and was telling me about it, when I sat down and actually thought about farm animals, instead of seeing them as food. I was horrified with myself, really horrified. On a regular weekday, I thought about it, and by that evening, I threw out everything in my cupboards and never looked back.
What does veganism mean to you?
To me, it’s everything. The animals, the environment, causing less harm, even to humans. We are so destructive, mean and unapologetic. The worst of narcissism comes out, especially when someone says to me ‘oh, I could never give up cheese’, as if that’s a perfectly acceptable statement. I have so many friends who advocate for less animal testing for beauty products, but will sit down to literally eat that same animal.
For example, I have honeybees in my garden, some are wild, who I left a house out anyone to move into, and others, came from a farm. We clearly never take anything from them, but we still have to care for them; insulation in the winter, check their food in case they’re running low, treat for parasites.
Yet, a lot of people have a problem with it, and then spend weeks advocating for dogs in a pound. To me, it’s madness. We need to advocate for the ant on the ground, to the horse in the field. No one species life is more precious than the other.
What is something surprising/interesting you’ve discovered or realised since going vegan?
Pig fat in toothpaste. Why?
Have you ever been called a forkin’ vegan?
Hahahaha, possibly! Not to my face though, so I live in ignorant bliss!
Describe a normal day in the life of Janet.
I’m usually up around 5am, I feed the ducks, chickens, cat, check on the bees quickly and make some coffee. Answer emails, breakfast, play with the kids who are also super early risers, and head out to work around 7. I’m home at 5’ish, we make dinner, make sure everyone has water and food in the garden, harvest the food we grow, and wonder what pesky little people are eating all the strawberries. Go to the park, swimming or some activity for an hour and then home. The weekends are more relaxed, but during the week, we’re a well oiled machine. A tired, rusty and old machine, but we still work!
What food best describes your personality?
Potatoes are my spirit animal! I could spend an hour looking at a menu, and thinking about the potatoes ha. They are also adaptable to anything!
Sweet or savoury?
Sweet all the way! I have a hard time understanding a dislike for cake.
What is your most memorable eating/dining experience?
There’s too many great places, I wouldn’t do it justice to name just one. Although, there’s an amazing raw food café beside where I live, that I want them to just move in with me and make food all day.
What is your favourite song/album to listen to in the kitchen while cooking?
Rage against the machine. I can only play it if my husband has taken the kids out while it’s my turn to cook. Otherwise, we’re listing to something PC and from Disney. Which, ya know, is great and all, but it’s no Guerrilla Radio.
What is your speciality dish?
My speciality dishes these years, are fancy looking cookie cutter vegetable dishes, or making a broccoli look like a cake. It’s an art form.
If you could invite 3 people (historical or current) to dinner who would they be?
Nina Simone for sure, I was a big fan all through my teenage years, and she passed away unfortunately before I ever had a chance to hear her in real life.
Anyone from the Irish folklore stories we heard at bedtime as kids, I don’t know if they’re real or not, but the women were tough cookies. If they are real people, I want to buy them dinner.
Angel Merkel. What an inspiration, the woman is a legend.
What would you serve?
Potatoes, a healthy side dish of being humble, and the finest whiskey money could buy.
Where is your favourite food destination?
The one closest to my house.
I’m not sure if this is all kids, but being at a restaurant with mine is like trying to spin fifteen plates at once, while eating something as quickly as possible that is burning your mouth and not lose your cool at the same time.
What is your favourite thing to eat on a hot summers day?
Fruit that has been in the fridge and absolutely freezing.
On a cold winters night?
Broccoli soup, I make it myself from broccoli we grow and freeze it during the summer for the winter nights when it’s snowing.
Describe your perfect day.
Asleep. Ha. I think it would be a well rested, nice day that we spent together as a family, regardless of what we did.
You’ve been asked to contribute a recipe for an upcoming cookbook. What is it?
Double baked almond croissants. Every time I make them, people are amazed by vegan croissants, and then even more amazed by the deliciousness of the next day almond croissants.
If you were a vegetable what would you be?
Probably a celeriac. It’s so strange looking, that I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be eaten or used it in battle.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Potato chips, I really love them.
How do you think we can each make the world a better place?
Raising kids vegan. I always advocate for vegan kids, and it’s brushed to the side for some reason. That adults are more important, and yes, kids don’t go out and buy their own groceries, but try and get a five year old to eat something they don’t want to, and see who has the real power in the household.
We need to stop the damage to the earth and the pain to the animals before it starts, and for that, we need to convince the kids.
What are your plans for 2017?
We have the Facebook group with over twenty two thousand members, and launching the website www.veganpregnancyandparenting.com in August , so it’s really exciting at the moment, and busy! One of the co-founders of the group Miranda is a vegan MD, you can find her online at ‘The Pure Doctor’, recording a weekly video for our youtube channel on raising vegan kids, and a monthly live Q&A for the group for parents who are on the fence, or just have questions about their kids being vegan.
Our other co-founder Tianna is busy doing interviews, and working closely with our affiliated Sanctuary ‘Autumn Farm Sanctuary’ in Wisconsin, to show the public the amazing work they are doing, and plans they have in the future to help more abandoned animals. It’s going to be really exciting for kids, especially for them to make the connection between what is food, and how animals aren’t food with videos, articles and updates on everyone who lives at the sanctuary. So definitely watch this space, and sign up at the website for more information.
Anything else you’d like to add?