First and foremost, and probably most boring way to start, but which of the vegan cooks am I interviewing?
How long have you been a part of Naked Vegan Cooking?
Luke, Greta and I had the idea to start Naked Vegan Cooking when we all moved in together 2 years ago. It was really the first time that we had lived with other vegans and so really got into cooking and eating together. Unfortunately Greta and I were totally competitive with eachother – trying to out-do eachother at every meal by cooking increasingly fancy food. After realizing that this was probably not good for our friendship (or for our bankbalance!) we decided to team up and create a blog to share our recipes. At the time we thought of the idea, Luke happened to be in the kitchen cooking naked and Naked Vegan Cooking was born.
The nakedness started off as a bit of gimmick to make our blog different from the thousands of other food blogs out there. It started off as a bit of a laugh but quickly became a lot more than that. We soon realised that by being naked we can talk about some of the issues that we care about – creating positive body image, showing real naked bodies in a world of photoshopped, unrealistic images, and feminism. We are currently putting together an anthology of essays about body image as well as making a cookbook!
What do you do? (day to day and as part of the collective for the website)
Eat loads of food! Develop recipes, make them, eat them, take pictures of food, write up recipes, edit guest posts. We do a fair few interviews. And then of course we organise events like our pop-up restaurants, art shows and naked swimming sessions. We like to keep ourselves busy!
What is your favourite recipe?
Hmm. I think my favourate recipe on the website at the moment is the Hazenut Pate. I know Greta and Becky’s favourite is the Pu Ti aubergines with tofu.
What are you hoping your veganism site will achieve?
Well, hopefully we will all become famous chefs! (I seriously doubt that!)
Seriously, though – I think my main hope for the project is that it continues to be a place where people can share good food and talk about body image issues. I like the fact the site mixes food with body positive politics in a very accessible manner cause it means we get to reach audiences that we wouldn’t have reached otherwise.
Any painful naked cooking experiences? (Spitting oil!?)
Had a couple, in the early days when deep frying falafel. We quickly learned that aprons are not the enemy.
What was the response from the general public after the Channel 4 documentary was made?
We recently starred in C4’s documentary “My Daughter the Teenage Nudist” where we talked personally about how going naked had been helpful to us in terms of improving our self esteem and our relationships with our bodies. It was a very scary prospect – baring all in front of 2 or 3 million people. All in all the response from the general public was absolutely brilliant. Had loads of comments and emails talking about how people were inspired by what we were doing, which was really lovely.
What inspired you to become a vegan and how do you maintain the lifestyle? (e.g how do you cope with going out to eat? Family dinners?)
Personally, I became vegetarian after watching Babe the sheep pig! Pretty sad, I know. I must have been pretty young at the time, I think I was mainly copying my elder sister as she went veggie at the same time. Since I went to uni and moved out of the family home (I come from a real “meat and two veg” sort of family) I became vegan. That was 5 or 6 years ago now. I know Greta has been vegan for a bit longer, 11 years I think and her veganism was mainly motivated by learning about exploitative farming practices in the UK, even free range food is dodgy.
Living with vegans and on Manchester’s curry mile (lots of vegan options in restaurants) has been really useful for staying vegan. Although, as both me and Greta are also lactose intolerant (I found this out only recently), the allergic reaction can also be a motivator to keep on the straight and narrow. To be honest, though, I cheat a fair bit. Greta is a lot more consistent vegan than I am. I don’t think the odd bit of cheating is a bad thing – I kind of have this impression that a lot of vegans are obsessed with “purity”; scouring ingredients for small traces of animal products that probably don’t make a massive impact on animal suffering / health/ the environment seems a little bit of a waste of time or energy in the grand scheme of things. Although when I first went vegan I used to do that so Ive developed some sort of sixth sense about what is vegan and what isn’t.
Anything else you would like to add that I might have missed asking?
Finally, I would like to say that veganism is not the revolution – despite the attitude that some vegans have towards the diet. It is one option among many different options relating to the food we eat and is far from perfect.
Thank you so much!