Interview by Natalie Tabone
Photos by Fleur Gollan and Frank & Dolly’s
Where do you live?
In my head most of the time but my home is in Highton, Geelong
What do you do?
Luckily for me what I do for money is also pleasurable! I’m a florist currently self employed. I also enjoy getting out in nature, be it the bush, beach or just my back yard – there’s nothing that makes me feel more alive than the smell of gum trees, looking at the stars or fresh dew under my toes.
What did you have for breakfast?
Today I had Irrewarra sourdough toast with original nuttelex, vegemite and avocado! A combination a friend recently introduced me to, I was sceptical at first but it really works!
When and why did you decide to go vegan?
I decided to go vegan about 1 year ago, I had been pescatarian for about 3 years and had already cut out milk and non free range eggs from my diet. I was on a family holiday eating some fresh caught fish and just thought “I can’t do this anymore”, it was like someone shone a light and I just couldn’t pretend a fish wasn’t the same as a cow or lamb or dog anymore- the rest of the dairy, cheese and yoghurt etc. stopped straight after that. I was no longer able to pretend there was no suffering involved in the production and just couldn’t stomach the creaminess of any of it anymore.
What does veganism mean to you?
To me it’s my small way of not adding to the suffering or exploitation of a life. I have always been fond of animals, especially as a kid and I’m just not ok with a life suffering any kind of extra stress or pain just so that I can enjoy a tastier meal –which is just a social/cultural idea that cheese even does make things better! I already aimed to buy only fair trade/carbon neutral products for years so it is just the next step to a more sustainable, life friendly way of living.
I’m also of the belief that as humans we don’t need to consume the milk of another species designed for that species young to feed from in order to sustain us, it’s pretty weird when you think about it.
It’s difficult to stick to sometimes (I know some people will disagree with that) but it is, it’s hard to break a habit and hard to teach your body to learn to get nutrients solely from sources it’s not used to. Especially when life gets extra stressful. I also find it difficult to stick to when eating at friend’s or going out. There’s always something snuck in somewhere! When I’m cooking or shopping for myself I’m strictly vegan and am very happy in that. When I’m eating out or someone else has cooked me dinner I will still eat a little bit of dairy. I am working towards being strict everywhere but am happy just doing something for now.
What is something surprising/interesting you’ve discovered or realised since going vegan?
That it’s easier than you think to make a tasty, quick, nutritious meal for dinner. Also yogurt tastes super weird.. you can make anything with coconut and avocado… but the biggest thing for me has been the next level of questions and judgement from people! Having been vego/pesco for years I was used to having to explain my reasoning occasionally and having my friends tell me “You just need a steak” when I complain about feeling tired. But identifying as vegan seems to come with a whole extra level of assumptions and judgement from people, that has been very surprising to me.
Have you ever been called a forkin’ vegan?
Haha no I haven’t thankfully, but there is always an underlying disapproval as though I’m deliberately trying to make things difficult for everyone.
Describe a normal day in the life of Verity.
My life at the moment is different everyday! But one thing I always make sure I do is eat regularly- no matter how busy I am. Anyone that knows me will understand my need for this, I turn into a blubbering, stressed out mess with only half my usual brain function when I’m hungry.
When I wake up in the morning, it’s usually to my Staghound staring at me across the bed whining at me to get up and play with her, on these mornings we walk up to the shops for a coffee at my local ‘Pane di Matteo’ and I’ll usually also buy a loaf of bread.
I then sit down to breakfast, usually black coffee, toast with avo or homemade baked beans and check my emails etc. followed by housework. On a day with spare time I then spend an hour or so practicing yoga and get ready for work.
Lunch is usually on the go and is pretty much always reheated leftovers from whatever I had the night or two before. Cooking for one means I’ve always made too much food and it means that I know I’ll have a good meal for lunch no matter how rushed I am.
My guilty pleasure at the moment is a dirty soy chai from Mr Willis in East Geelong, it gives me a caffeine fix with a spicy sweet treat at the same time. (They also have killer vegan slices there, the peppermint is my favourite.)
Evenings always revolve around dinner and walking the dog then usually end watching epic medieval dramas on the couch with my fella, and the dog sprawled out on the other couch.
What food best describes your personality?
Haha I’ve never thought of this before… maybe Mexican food? It’s colourful and fresh, has a little bit of everything, and has many layers of flavour and spices to keep you guessing. You know the general experience is going to be like but it can come in so many different variations. I feel like I’m pretty much the same all round but present myself a little differently every day and wear my emotions (sometimes opinions) loud and proud for everyone to see. Hahaha.
Sweet or savoury?
Savoury! Always have been always will be, you can never have too much- salt is the greatest flavour on earth, closely followed by salt and lemon.
What is your most memorable eating/dining experience?
The first thing that comes to mind is dinner at my grandparent’s house growing up… always the best. Good, real food and heaps of it. Half of it grown in their garden and always prepared by both Grandma and Grandpa.
What is your favourite song/album to listen to in the kitchen while cooking?
I love putting on upbeat music in the kitchen so I can dance while I’m cooking, I have two favourite kitchen classics;
- Darth Vader by Highasakite (which my dog always comes and dances to with me)
- Spank by the Bloody Beetroots. You have to be able to boogie while you cook!
What is your speciality dish?
I wouldn’t say I particularly have a specialty dish, I never cook the same thing twice and always just use whatever I have to create something yum. But my go to would definitely be Mexican- fajitas with beans, roasted corn and fresh salad.
If you could invite 3 people (historical or current) to dinner who would they be?
Ah hard question!!! (Nat, Marty and Charlie!!!! Hahaha)
Hmmm….My favourite author Juliet Marilier so she can regale us with tales of Irish folklore and the fair folk. Cate Blanchet – she is the queen of everything, and Professor Brian Cox so I can sit there and listen to him tell me in his infectiously enthusiastic way about the wonders of the universe, go into detail about how stars are crazy balls of burning gas millions of light years away and how “Things can only get better”, hehehe.
What would you serve?
I would serve a starter of olives, flat bread, hummus and roasted artichokes and capsicum etc..vegan antipasto!
Then I’d make some fabulous pasta dish and my own pasta (because in a world where I have those three people over for dinner I can also pull off home made pasta).
There’d be copious amounts of wine and I’d make the most amazing vegan tiramisu for dessert… which I am yet to find a good recipe for. Very tragic.
Where is your favourite food destination?
Honestly, I’d have to say Melbourne! There’s so much choice, the quality of the produce is always amazing and there are some seriously tasty and funky vegan places around like good old Veggie Bar and Trippy Taco in Fitzroy!
What is your favourite thing to eat on a hot summers day?
A salad with green beans, quinoa, tomatoes, fresh herbs, avocado, almonds and a fresh lemony dressing.
On a cold winters night?
A great big bowl of dahl!
Describe your perfect day.
I wake up in a log cabin in a spectacular mossy forest somewhere in the mountains, yoga at sunrise, a long home cooked breakfast then hiking, lunch and a swim at a waterfall. More forest walking then back to the cabin to spend the afternoon painting, playing with my dog, lighting the fireplace and cooking dinner for ALL my friends who have come to visit me and then laying outside in a cuddle puddle watching the stars and talking shit. Oh yeah… that’d be my perfect day.
If you were a vegetable what would you be?
A CELARIAC!!!! Just because they are underrated and need more appreciation, not saying I do but celeriac’s are a seriously awesome vegetable that everyone should get around.
What is your guilty pleasure?
So Good almond milk, choc almond ice cream with Whittaker’s dark chocolate and peppermint chocolate pieces on top, mmm.
You’re on death row and it’s your last meal. What do you eat?
Vegan hotdogs with coleslaw and fries.
How do you think we can each make the world a better place?
If everyone made sure they make one choice in their everyday life that improves the life of someone or something else in some way I think the world would be a much different place.
What’s the best thing about being you right now?
The best thing about being me right now is being free to be ME. For the first time in a long time I feel completely free and confident to make choices for myself and my life and that whatever comes from that I can deal with. It’s something that I have tried to stick to my whole life but can be so tricky to hold onto once you stop listening to other’s expectations, judgments and opinions of you and what you ‘should’ be doing you can be truly free to be yourself. Everyone needs to be able to back themselves and love themselves, free of judgement. It is a liberating and empowering experience and I encourage everyone to listen to their own voice and make it heard where it counts. No one has anything to prove and life is to be lived and enjoyed.
What are your plans for 2017?
This year I hope to travel to parts of the world that have always been on my wish list – Ireland being the very top of that list! Also to be open to whatever new adventure or experience finds me next.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I’m not the sort of vegan to impose my views on others and strongly believe that everyone has a right to voice their own values, HOWEVER I would like to note that people often think it’s funny to tell me how much they love bacon in regards to me being vegan…I appreciate that they’re expressing something they love but I don’t need to hear it. It’s the one meat product I strongly believe no one should be eating; the farming and killing conditions for commercial pigs is so appalling and inhumane that I strongly feel there needs to be a social change in the acceptance of the community turning a blind eye to the unnecessary suffering of our curly tailed cousins… that’s all.