Information, honesty and humor are some of the features I look forward when reading on line and this is also applied for vegan websites and blogs. It’s not that easy to come across pages that combine those three elements and I get really excited when I find one and Fat Gay Vegan blog is one of those. First of all, how not to love the website name? Who in the online universe name his page with such honest opinion about himself? Sean O’Callaghan does.
I first heard about him on Twitter and loved his tweets. He’s always funny and, yes, very honest. Based in London, his blog is one of the best sources of information about vegan food in the UK. Why did he chose “Fat Gay Vegan”? He explains that in the blog: “I carry a bit of extra weight, I am into guys and I enjoy cruelty-free food and drink. Join this Fat Gay Vegan on a journey of eating and drinking around the United Kingdom (and occasionally further afield) as I chronicle my plant-based adventures.”
I’ve been in touch with Sean lately and I was delighted to interview him and spread the word about everything he does – and believe me he does a lot! – about spreading the word about vegan food in the UK:
I won’t ask why “Fat Gay Vegan” because it’s explained in your blog (and it’s also a self-explained name, right?) but I’d like to know when the idea of blogging about London events, products and news began. And which topics get more visits in general?
The idea to write a vegan blog came to me a few years ago. I had been writing a personal blog, mostly detailing my travels but also featuring a lot of food. My blog was housed on MySpace but as that social network declined in popularity, I decided to move to a more popular platform and in the process, decided to focus my attentions on vegan food and news.
Over the years I have found some stories garner more attention than others. Any post about vegan food served on a plane is always widely read.
You run some exciting events in London, one of them being “London Vegan Drinks”, which has its inception in 2011. What are the main changes in the event after two years running it and what are your future plans regarding it?
The event started in a sit down restaurant, moved to an inner city pub and now resides in a wonderful function space in Whole Foods Market on Kensington High Street. London Vegan Drinks is really unstoppable now and my plan is to keep it as welcoming and accessible to as many people as possible. I want it to be a safe space for all kinds of people to be able to interact, meet and support each other.
This week the other event you organize, “London Vegan Potluck”, took place in a very spacious and beautiful venue this week. How was it?
London Vegan Potluck is always an amazing experience. Where else in the world do 80-100 people converge on a room for two hours to share delicious and cruelty-free food every month? I am always humbled by the goodwill and sense of community exhibited by the attendees.
What are the main reasons for organizing these events in the city of London?
These events exist in order to create social capital. I wanted to nurture regular events where people can explore veganism if they are new to it or feel supported in their choice if they are a new vegan. I wanted to allow vegans opportunities to socialise with large numbers of people but with the stress and pressure that can come with attending non-vegan events removed.
Besides all these great events, you also work in a business related to veganism, FGV/PR. How and when did you start the business? How is working with vegan and vegan-friendly companies?
My blogging and event organising put me on the path to operating my vegan PR company. I was working as a school teacher but the time demands of the vegan events was impacting on that role. The day I decided to change careers was the day I got my first client, Fry’s Vegetarian.
This job really is the best of both worlds. I get to sing the praises of veganism while working with a diverse range of businesses. I can go from helping promote the huge vegan show VegfestUK to discussing shoes with my newest client, Will’s Vegan Shoes. I love that the people who pay me care so much about animals and the planet, too.
Besides being a very active person – and probably very busy too! How’s the daily life of Sean O’Callaghan, the guy behind FGV?
My day can be a little erratic but I like that. I am the sort of person who does everything all at once. I can be writing a blog post and checking social media accounts for clients at the same time. Being vegan is such a big part of my life and it is now my job too, so I am never not working.
The UK is known as very vegan-friendly. How do you see the growing of veganism in there?
I hope to see established vegans becoming more adventurous with their food choices. Plant based foods in the UK can appear old fashioned at times. Some of the most adventurous vegan food changes of recent years have been made by people arriving from outside the UK. Ms Cupcake, The Mighty Fork and the just-announced plans for German supermarket Veganz are just a few examples.
As the general population becomes more food adventurous, I think UK vegans will also look for more excitement.
What are your top 5 favorite places to eat in London?
Mr. Falafel for unbeatable savoury wraps. Cookies & Scream for shakes and bars. Maoz for a quick Soho lunch. Loving Hut Edgware for a huge selection of tasty dishes. The Mighty Fork for inventive and delicious hot dogs.
In the last few years, vegan diet is getting more and more mainstream, with many celebrities around the world talking about it. Usually the focus is just the food. Do you think this is positive even if it doesn’t show the other aspects of veganism?
Every vegan meal served is a step in the right direction, however some people do need to be less self-centred and more aware of suffering. Being aware of how animals are tortured for food, clothing and beauty products can lead humans to be more compassionate and thoughtful in many other areas.
I think focusing on image and appearance as something to be achieved through diet is not helpful to society and can lead to people feeling inferior. For every celebrity vegan championing veganism as a way to clear skin, I wish there were ten more talking about not wanting to contribute to animal suffering.
Would you recommend our readers a few bloggers that you enjoy reading?
I adore some of the huge vegan blogs out there such as Vegansaurus and Super Vegan. Even though they are based in the US, they often write about universal themes surrounding animals, food and the planet. I love the use of humour on those blogs and, along with the legendary Quarrygirl, these writers made me want to become a vegan blogger.