It feels like it’s been forever since my last blog post. I’ve been pretty much non-stop recently, but hopefully as we get closer to Christmas and New Year things will start to calm down… well, a little bit perhaps!
I recently spoke at the prestigious event Vegan Days in Italy – the country’s biggest vegan festival – and I have to say it was one of the best weekends of my life!
I’m sure you’ll agree that there’s something so inspiring and motivating about spending time with like-minded people – there’s a true energy and vibrancy.
I feel revitalised after my Italy trip, which is very welcome as things have been quite chaotic for most of 2017!
I stayed in the famous Ca’ Sagredo Hotel in Venice, which is a former palace and the height of luxury. Not only is it simply exquisite, but there is also a vegan menu in the restaurant as well, so you really can enjoy luxury and plant-based food together.
By now you probably know that Italy is my favourite country – the food, the culture, the style, the language – ah perfection! But most of all, it’s the people. Whenever I go to Italy, I always experience such warmth and kindness from the local people, and it’s so refreshing!
This trip was no different, from being collected at the airport and being taken to the hotel, to the journeys between the hotel and the event, and of course the time at the event; everyone was so kind and helpful – it definitely eased the nerves!
Vegan Days took place in Padua, which is a beautiful city so do visit if you get chance. It was fantastic to see so many Italian vegan brands showcasing their products, and a really lively atmosphere.
I spoke on the Saturday, and my presentation focused on the concept of Contemporary Veganism, touching on aspects of activist, fashion and what the hospitality sector can do to be more inclusive of those looking for plant-based options. I do believe there will be a video recording of my speech, so I’ll let you know once it is live.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Stefano Momentè (again, I’ll share the video link once it is live), and it was wonderful to gain more insight to his mission and work. He’s just released his 20th book, and has been vegan since 1985 – which is amazing! He’s such an important figure in the movement, and it really was an honour to meet him. Not only is he a journalist and writer, he’s a chef and founder of Vegan Italia, which you can find more about here.
Mr Green V joined me on Saturday evening, and we spent the Sunday at the event again and had the opportunity to meet Dr Melanie Joy, who I’ve followed online for years!
If you haven’t watched her speech on carnism, you can do so below:
We went out for dinner at the small restaurant I had the best pasta of my life in when I was last in Venice, Trattoria Al Gazzettino. It’s not a vegan place, in fact it isn’t particularly heavy with veggie options on the menu, but if you order spaghetti with vegetables they will also do you a gorgeous salad and mixed grilled veggies to come with it – I promise you, the pasta will not disappoint! Find out more in my last Venice blog post from 2015 here!
Going vegan was the best decision I ever made, but it does come with it’s struggles (as everything does). I often feel very sad and helpless when I read about the cruelties that still go on, or when I see people wearing real fur, or eating animals on their plates etc. It’s hard to switch off when you’re bombarded with upsetting things in your daily life.
Do you feel the same?
When I watched Melanie’s speech on day 2 of Vegan Days, she talked about how this can negatively impact vegans, and explained the science behind it, and how we can experience secondary traumatic stress.
To quote the definition: Secondary traumatic stress is the emotional duress that results when an individual hears about the firsthand trauma experiences of another.
I know that having watched slaughterhouse, egg factory and dairy farm footage, animal abuse videos that get shared on social media and reading about climate change and the evironmental issues we are facing, it honestly breaks my heart, and sometimes it just all gets a little too much.
You see, it’s impossible to ‘switch off’ and pretend these thing aren’t happening; but at the same time we as activists (via whatever medium we focus on) need to look after ourselves so we have the strength to work towards making a difference.
Melanie’s latest book – Beyond Beliefs: A Guide to Improving Relationships and Communication for Vegans, Vegetarians, and Meat Eaters, which you can order here, explores this in great detail, and I’m really enjoying reading it and recommend you do too.
Of course, the wonderful thing about the vegan and animal rights movement is that it is growing so fast, and all over the world – and my trip to Italy has just proved that even more.
There is nothing more heartwarming than to meet people who ‘get’ what I’m trying to do, that share my passions and are making huge changes, which is why it was such an honour to meet Stefano and Melanie – both leaders in the movement that I admire so much.
If you have chance to head to a local vegan event, then I urge you to do so, because spending time with people who understand you is priceless and inspiring.
Speak to you soon!