Thursday, August 4, 2016

10 Questions: Vegan Rockstars with Lacie and Robin


Okay, so somehow this video came across my eyes and I watched the video and even though I was prepared to get all rage-y, I fell in love! (Even if I had to forgive them for their very wrong position on tempeh, though I may also have to face that only about four of us on the planet are actually fans of the stuff.) Lacie and Robin are a couple who have been together for 20 years and have gone vegan together in more recent years. They are both from comedy backgrounds and this is evident in the wonderful rapport they have together and use to tackle all kinds of subjects on their YouTube channel, from what does LGBTQIA mean exactly to simple steps you can take to help create better gun control. Oh, plus vegan videos, too! (And they’ve made a film together!) Their affectionate, warm chemistry, candor, maturity and refreshing lack of clickbait-y behavior made me so happy, especially given the often-toxic vegan representation on YouTube. We need to replace all the screechy, look-at-me vegans with more Lacie and Robins. Get off my lawn!!! Oh, and please subscribe to their YouTube channel and follow them on Facebook.

1. First of all, we’d love to hear your “vegan evolution” story. How did you start out? Did you have any early influences or experiences as a young person that in retrospect helped to pave your path?
It’s amazing as we’re thinking about it, but neither of us have early memories of being attracted to vegetarianism or veganism. We were both major animal lovers but it never occurred to us that that had anything to do with what we were eating. As adults, we dabbled in vegetarianism on and off but it wasn't until we met our friend, Barry, a vegan, who we love and admire for his all-around badassery, that we became open to it. He's always unassuming, and he never talked about being vegan when we met him. He just WAS that and we sort of watched and asked questions out of curiosity every now and again. Then, one night, we were surfing Netflix and we happened upon “Vegucated”, which we had always avoided like the plague, because we knew if we really faced the reality of what we were participating in, we wouldn't be able to eat meat anymore. But, that night, because of Barry, we were open to watching.
2. Imagine that you are pre-vegan again: how could someone have talked to you and what could they have said or shown you that could have been the most effective way to have a positive influence on you moving toward veganism?
Robin: I don't think there's any way I would have been convinced to change, except for seeing what happens to the animals. 
Lacie: Yeah, “Vegucated” was great because it lures the viewer into going along for the ride of whether people can go vegan for six weeks, and then, with a very light touch, actually, slips in two minutes of graphic imagery from a factory farm. That was that for us. We immediately looked at each other and said, “It’s over.”
3. What have you found to be the most effective way to communicate your message as a vegan? For example, humor, passion, images, etc.?
Robin: We come from a stand-up comedy background so we always like to use humor to get the point across. We’ve done a couple of comedy videos on being vegan on our YouTube channel, “Lacie and Robin”, and we’re gonna be doing them more regularly because, hey we’re vegan. That’s what we do: we talk about it non-stop. But, we aim to be “safe” vegans, who aren’t going to try to convert you and make you feel guilty. One of the missions of our channel is to build bridges for people who wanna know more about veganism without feeling judged. We see ourselves as a place for people who maybe don’t necessarily want to become vegan but are just curious about it. We wanna be clear that people don’t have to become fully vegan to make small changes in their lifestyles that help the cause.
Lacie: We believe that making people feel guilty or wrong for eating animals is counterproductive. 

4. What do you think are the biggest strengths of the vegan movement?
Lacie: The food is beginning to taste a whole lot better. There's a company named Beyond Meat now, that makes chicken that's so delicious and convincing, I actually it eat it out of the pan while I'm cooking it. That's amazing to me. This is what will begin to bring more people over. Lots of people aren't happy about the notion of hurting animals but they're not willing to give up delicious foods and they're not health nuts. Vegan "mayo" and "butter" are every bit as good as the dairy versions. Restaurants are popping up in L.A. that serve great vegan food. While we've become healthier eaters in the four years since we've become vegan, we still eat plenty of fake meats and cheeses. And, since it's all about the animals for us, we probably always will. So, these things matter to us a lot.
5. What do you think are our biggest hindrances to getting the word out effectively?
We sometimes give ourselves a bad reputation by proselytizing. Nobody wants to be told what to do. That creates resistance and fear. The first vegan video we put up was called "Why Are Vegans So Annoying?" And, one of the jokes in it is that we vegans can never seem to get through a party without bringing it up. It's practically impossible because we genuinely care about the cause. But, no one wants to hear about death, taxes or veganism. We're better off being great examples.
6. All of us need a “why vegan” elevator pitch. We’d love to hear yours.
The sacrifice is nothing compared to the reward. Living a do-no-harm lifestyle has a hundred magical consequences you can never know unless you try it. 
7. Who are the people and what are the books, films, websites and organizations that have had the greatest influence on your veganism and your continuing evolution? 
Bill Clinton's being vegan didn't hurt. And, it's totally encouraging that Scott Jurek, who won the ultra-marathon multiple times is vegan. In terms of films, we've talked a lot about "Vegucated" - a fun movie with a very light touch on the horrors of factory farming. "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead" was a great watch and a real eye-opener with regard to the health benefits of being vegan. It was really about the benefits of eating more fruits and vegetables but the outcomes for the participants, all of whom started with pretty serious health conditions, were plain undeniable.
8. Burn-out is so common among vegans: what do you do to unwind, recharge and inspire yourself?
If we ever feel the slightest temptation, we think about the animals. We also like to drink beer and watch "Full Frontal with Samantha Bee."
9. What is the issue nearest and dearest to your heart that you would like others to know more about?
Lacie: I think sometimes people think that killing a cow, pig, etc. is not such a big deal if the animal has been free-range and allowed to live a reasonably natural life. But, factory farming means that animals never have anything like the sweetness of a natural life. These are fantasies created by marketing that have no relationship to reality. This includes dairy animals who, arguably, have even worse circumstances than meat animals.

10. Please finish this sentence: “To me, being vegan is...” 
Robin: . . . all about the animals.
Lacie: . . . the thing I'll be most proud of when I die. 

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