As a chef and cookbook author, I’m always on the lookout for new recipes. While perusing the internet not long ago, I was very excited to see that a new vegan food magazine is available online. The magazine is called “Fresh Vegan” and I was lucky enough to read their first two issues.
The issues are jam packed with innovative and delicious recipes, beautiful pictures and interesting articles on chefs, restaurants and new products. Started by husband and wife team Jacqui Deoir and Ron Fairfield, Fresh Vegan features restaurants and cafes that are concentrated in the UK and Europe…but vegans all over the world will enjoy their fabulous recipes, articles and pictures.
I recently caught up with Jacqui and Ron, and was able to talk to them about their new endeavor:
Vicki: When did you go vegan, and what motivated you to become vegan?
Jacqui: I was vegan back in 1984, but due to my lifestyle and lack of knowledge about how to be a healthy vegan, I suffered some health issues which led me to move back to being vegetarian. At that point in my life, I never really associated the dairy industry with cruelty to animals, even though I lived at the time with a group of very political vegans. Being vegan at that time felt more like a forced conversion rather than my own considered choice.
After ill health and a breakdown, I left my catering career behind and focused on my natural healing skills to work both on myself and to help others. This led to a conscious awareness of every sentient being around me as connected. As a result of my abusive and toxic upbringing, I became incredibly sensitive to the issues of suffering to animals caused by the corrupt and money driven food producers. Change has to start with yourself which in turn becomes an example to others. These changes helped me to naturally transition from vegetarian to vegan.
Ron: I was aware from my teens that eating meat didn’t accord with my spiritual journey and studies, so I gradually ate less and less meat until I became vegetarian in my 30’s. When I met Jacqui 12 years ago, my eyes were opened to the more healthy aspects of plant based eating, which may sound odd as many people think that to cut out meat is automatically healthy! Sadly I have found there are many very unhealthy vegetarians and vegans, something that is important to us in the magazine. We both transitioned from vegetarian to vegan two years ago.
My reasons are a mix of first, the stupidity of eating other aware species that we share the planet with, it just seems totally uncivilized and arrogant to use animals in this way. And secondly, the evidence is overwhelming that a plant based diet will reverse most health issues that the western world is plagued by and will also create positive environmental changes.
Vicki: How did the idea of your magazine Fresh Vegan come about? Tell us a little bit about the magazine.
Ron: The idea came from Jacqui, and in a conversation about the idea we realized that collectively we had the necessary skills to make it a reality. I had worked as a graphic designer and worked on the layout of two children’s books, so had some experience in publishing. I designed the first website and then it was over to Jacqui as the expert in the field of vegan nutrition.
Jacqui: For the past 5 years I have searched and researched about health and nutrition and the part that food plays in healing the body, mind, spirit and our environment. I investigated Ayurveda, raw food, raw vegan food and macrobiotics, as all of these systems are healing modalities that worked alongside my work as a healer. I found that each group saw themselves as separate rather than a collective power for health and good, and as a result, although they all were speaking a different “language”, they were in fact all saying the same thing.
The magazine grew out of a passion and desire to bring together all of these strands of healing through food, and particularly vegan food. The name Fresh Vegan was created to get across the message that we needed a fresh inclusive approach of encouragement, rather than a soapbox preaching approach that at times just separates us. The magazine is for everyone who is interested in a fresh look at food, both for pleasure, compassion, and as a healing tool for ourselves, the creatures we live with, and our planet.
Jacqui: Wow, that is a very interesting question Vicki! At the risk of sounding “New Age”, the way that the magazine gets put together comes from both my years in the professional food and catering industry, and years as a healer and teacher. Currently I am finding that I am being guided with a strong sense of whom and what should be in the magazine, and my vision has changed and evolved in the last 6 months. I am very heartened by the fact we have brought some new “movers and shakers” in the vegan world to a bigger audience, and that other magazines are now approaching some of them for their magazines. So my goal is to continue to find new chefs, cafes, restaurants, and food producers from all over the world, who share our vision of a more compassionate and caring society, and for the magazine to allow us to travel and meet and speak with these people personally.
Vicki: What’s been the biggest challenge since launching the magazine?
Ron: I think most people will be amazed when we say that a lack of support from the vegan community was initially our biggest challenge. It seems that because we didn’t centre on the the issues of animal exploitation, suffering, and being treated as a product, we were not being seen as serious! For me the idea that something we all share, carnivores, vegetarians and vegans alike – eating, can change the world one meal at a time is the power of Fresh Vegan Magazine. I hate being lectured at by someone who is trying to bully me into a particular viewpoint, so we don’t want to do that in the magazine.
Jacqui: This is a passion and a love affair, and it is only challenging in the same way that any worthwhile relationship is challenging.
Vicki: I read in a couple issues of Fresh Vegan, that people in the UK think that the United States is ahead in veganism. I always thought it was the other way around! Where do you see veganism going in the UK, in the near future?
Jacqui: Another interesting question Vicki. I think culturally that the world sees veganism as starting in the UK with the original Vegan Society. However, we are a small country and therefore in sheer numbers of people who are vegan, we are small and therefore any vegan business, café or restaurant often finds it difficult to survive. An example of this is “SAF”, one of the biggest vegan restaurants in the UK that has sadly had to close its doors after many years and despite a growing interest in vegan food.
What we are seeing in the UK is a huge increase in vegan festivals outside of London and an interest in places that would have been considered more traditional in terms of food. So yes there is an increase, but we have a long way to go. Compared to the US, we don’t have the writers, publishers or vegan TV shows that you seem to have a wealth of, which creates the idea that you are ahead of us.
Ron: We are often asked, “where can I buy it”, our answer is everywhere! We are an online digital magazine, and whilst initially we dreamt of seeing it on newsagent’s shelves, we very quickly became aware of the environmental impact of printed periodicals. Our magazine does not destroy trees or pollute rivers or become landfill. You download it to your eReader, Kindle, Tablet, iPad or computer to read as many times as you wish, and it never gets dog-eared. Visit the website where you will find a description of each issue, a link to buy them individually, and a link to buy an annual subscription. The individual issues are £3.95 or approx $6.70 and a subscription for 5 issues a year at £15 or $25.44 (depending on the exchange rate).
I want to thank Ron and Jacqui for taking time out of their busy schedules to talk with me. I wish them the greatest success with their magazine. You can subscribe or get further information on the magazine at their website: www.freshvegan.eu