As I was scrolling through YouTube one afternoon I discovered a channel by the name of ‘a chill vegan’. I instantly clicked and scrolled through her videos, watching one after another. I soon became intrigued by the owner of this channel, Emily, and had tons of questions for this equally as relaxing and energetic young vegan. I reached out to her for an interview to share with you guys and she kindly agreed. She is as carefree and generous as she seems in this interview and it was an honor to chat with her and ask her some questions about her lifestyle. Emily’s links will be posted at the bottom of the post and it would be lovely for you all to check out her social media outlets! Enjoy!
When I was 14 years old and a freshman in high school, my older brother was going through this phase where he was really into diet and working out and all that, so he actually ended up being the one who introduced me to it all. Since I was so young & impressionable, and had been a huge “animal lover” my whole life, all he really had to do was show me one video of what really goes on in a slaughterhouse for me to swear off meat forever. After that, I started transitioning into veganism (without hardly noticing it) over the next few months. At that point, it was pretty much only ethics that kept me motivated. (Although the weight loss & extra energy made it even easier to stay motivated, haha.) All I knew was that I didn’t want animals to die or suffer terrible lives for my food if they didn’t have to. Throughout the first year of being vegan, I slowly came to realize the bigger picture, as in the health and environmental benefits, and it became a more mature decision for me to continue.
You’ve said that ethics kept you motivated during your transition into veganism, but was there anything that pulled you away? Were people unaccepting of your choice? Did people understand it?
Somehow, fortunately, I managed to always stick with it the entire time. There was definitely times where I felt somewhat isolated because of it, though. In the beginning of high school, I hardly told anyone other than my close friends. I was so scared of being judged as a pretentious or crazy vegan and losing friends because of it. When I did start to gain confidence and be more public about my lifestyle and my views, there was quite a few awkward conversations and condescending comments from people who either didn’t understand it or were completely against it. However, there were also a lot of people who had told me they respected what I was doing. There are some really sweet messages in my high school yearbooks of people saying they admire my compassion or my determination to live my values. So basically, I’ve learned that going vegan may help you to narrow down the people you really want to keep in your life and those you don’t.
Recently, veganism has become a lot more common and known. Are there still people that you come across who don’t understand it or people who are against it at this point? How do their reactions make you feel?
Yes, it’s incredible! Over the past few years, I’ve seen veganism grow so much, mainly through social media, but also in my own life. Now that I’ve been vegan for some years, pretty much everyone in my life generally understands and supports what I’m doing. Also, now that I’m in college, I’ve noticed that the general reaction of students around me is so much more positive than when I was in high school. As you can expect, college-age students are much more mature and open-minded, so they’re usually more responsive to the idea of veganism. I’ve actually given a few speeches about veganism in some of my classes and was pleasantly surprised by how positive the responses I’d gotten were. Occasionally, I will come across people at my school or family friends who are unresponsive to the idea. It’s, of course, upsetting, but I try to not pay too much of my attention to those people. Personally, I think a mistake that a lot of new vegans make is putting too much of their energy into trying to win arguments with people who are not open minded, when they could be putting that energy toward seeking out and, I guess, guiding the ones who are. There’s so many people out there who are interested, they just need some help getting there.
Considering you have a YouTube channel where your main focus seems to be it, I’d say you’re pretty good at educating people and talking about veganism. What would you say to somebody who wants to try transitioning but doesn’t know where to start or what to do?
Thank you! I always think that the most important thing is understanding why it is you’re making the change and why it’s important to you. I think if you have that foundation to motivate you, then no matter what’s in your way or how many times you mess up, you can just remind yourself of that reason and keep trying your best. So, watching informational videos or reading about the environmental, ethical, or health aspects of a vegan diet can help you do that. Another thing that is really important is surrounding yourself with as much inspiration as possible. Following vegans on all your social media helps people out a ton with getting foodspo, motivation, and advice. I think YouTube especially is so effective for helping people and that’s why I love it so much. There are so many vegans on YouTube who are willing to help anyone and everyone out with whatever obstacles they face while going vegan. From there, I’d say to take everything at your own pace. Take your time with the transition and figure out what works for you. Most importantly, learn from your mistakes instead of beating yourself up about just being human.
Well for me, it was such a drastic change in my diet from eating so much meat, cheese, butter, and milk to no animal products at all. So I saw the physical effect of the change happen fairly quickly. I was getting slimmer and I had more energy to exercise and just go about my daily life. I just felt lighter and cleaner all around. It’s like how you don’t notice the effect something has on you until you give it up. That’s how it was for me. I didn’t realize how much all that animal fat and protein I had been eating was weighing me down until I finally cut it out. An obvious negative that everyone expects is that it’s more complex of course than not being vegan, but for me, that only made me more appreciative of food and the choices that I did have. Whenever I found an interesting vegan product, I was so excited to try it! Changing my diet and lifestyle also forced me to try new things and I found out so many different foods that I might’ve never eaten if I didn’t go vegan! It’s also brought me so many opportunities for connecting with people, particularly online. I may’ve never made a YouTube channel if I never went vegan and I wouldn’t have known that all these beautiful people who I’ve connected with in the past several months online exist. I’d say the only other negatives that I’ve really experienced are socially, like when people make certain ignorant or condescending comments about your lifestyle or try to criticize when they don’t really know much about veganism to start. It can be a little frustrating, but, at least for me, it doesn’t happen often at all. But then again, I don’t get out much lol.
You’re starting to become more successful on YouTube due to your videos on different vegan foods and life as a vegan. How do you find ways to be creative and different considering there are so many other vegan YouTubers?
I think everyone has their own little personality traits or things about them that they bring to the vegan community that makes them different and I guess mine are my sense of humor and laid-back attitude (hence, the name). I’ve also noticed that a lot of people like my channel because I’m not about extreme health or perfection and I don’t focus on weight loss or physical appearance. Also that I live with my parents who aren’t vegan, I hang out with people who aren’t vegan, and don’t live in a large metropolis with multiple vegan restaurants. People like that they can relate to my situation, because that’s how most people’s lives are. A lot of vegans on youtube live somewhat isolated lifestyles where they live and spend a lot of their time with people who are also vegan and eat at a lot of vegan restaurants. So even if I’m doing the same sort of video as one of them, I have a different perspective and situation from them to share. I also try to ask myself and other people, “What do you want to see more of from the vegan community on YouTube?”, and then I try to do that, if possible, in my own videos. However, somehow I think I’ve always been somewhat fortunate to have a knack for creativity. I always have endless ideas so YouTube is a good place for me to utilize that. Sadly, my problem is finding the time (as well as the time management skills) that I don’t have.
What inspired and really pushed you to make your YouTube channel based around veganism in the first place?
I’ve wanted to find ways for me to positively influence the world and help people for a long time now so, more than once, I considered YouTube for that. Veganism, specifically, is something I think everyone should work toward and something that can really change the world. It’s also an issue that I feel most comfortable speaking on because I’ve been vegan for so long. Whereas, if I had focused a YouTube channel on something like minimalism or ethical fashion, I haven’t been into those issues for as long of a time and I don’t feel quite as confident with my knowledge of those topics. However, they are topics that I want to (& I’m starting to) incorporate more of in smaller ways in addition to veganism on my channel.
You said that veganism is something you think everyone should work toward. Let’s say that was the case. What do you imagine the world would then be like?
If it were to happen, that would be so amazing to see! I imagine if we all took that step together, then, as a society, we may be influenced to make positive changes in other areas of life too. At least for me, adopting a vegan lifestyle led me to look into so many other aspects of my lifestyle too and whether or not they were ethical. I would imagine that we’d be able to work toward more sustainable ways of farming as we wouldn’t need so much land, water, and energy to produce such a large amount of meat and dairy products for people. We definitely wouldn’t have any issues with cholesterol anymore and mostly everybody would be eating their veggies! We’d actually start going straight to the source for our nutrients ~good ol’ plants~ instead of needing to eat animals to get the nutrients from the plants they’ve eaten. Sure, we’d definitely still have our other issues going on, but I think a world without slaughterhouses or factory farms would be a huge step toward a more peaceful world.
I just want to say that veganism can be a beautiful thing and everyone should give it a try! You never know how easy it could be or how it will benefit you until you at least try it out.
Also, I just wanna say thank you, Kaylina, for interviewing me! I feel special when anyone wants me involved with what they’re doing and this is a beautiful page to be included on, so I’m grateful for that. Plus, I have a lot to say about this so this was a good way to get it out! Thanks to everyone for reading also!♡