Real, honest and open-minded conversation about food is the way forward by Laura Gaga
I follow plant-based entrepreneur, Loui Blake, on Instagram - I ate at one of his restaurant's, Kalifornia Kitchen, when it was open; I've visited By Chloe restaurant where he is a brand partner, even saw him walking along Tottenham Court Road one evening. Did I say hello? Of course not; those with blue ticks on Instagram are of celebrity status, so I did what you do in that situation… Carried on as if I had no idea who he was whilst looking for someone to say, 'That's Loui Blake over there'.
I had to keep lid on my fan-girl self when asked to be on episode two of the Vegan Life magazine Podcast, alongside guests Loui Blake and Veganezer. To offer you some context, I was that teenager who threw their bra at Tony Mortimer's head, at an East 17 concert, convinced that would unite us in holy matrimony - it didn't.
Rest assured, I didn't throw my bra at the screen whilst we were recording the episode; I'm not sure host Jake would have appreciated that! He did however let me show off my yellow sticker, reduced price, block of tempeh, as we chatted vegan foods, food waste, eating well for less. We warmly teased Loui about his love of juicing and it just felt like four friends had gathered at the table together chatting, bantering. It made me realise how much I missed conversation. It wasn't just a worldwide pandemic, national lockdown, that had brought about talking to fewer people but in this digital age we have become so accustomed to tweeting, following, tagging, commenting, sharing, DMing one another that we're beginning to lose the art of conversation.
Without talking to each other, we can instead form ideas of what we think a person is like, who they are, based on an image, caption, quote, meme or our own projection. It can lead us to denigrate, idolise others, throw our bras at our objects of desire… C'mon we've all been there, no? Whether we are elevating someone or cancelling them, something that seems to be forgotten is the conversation; not comments followed by comments, people talking to one another.
Whilst I use Instagram to showcase surplus foods, and consider my page to have good engagement based on likes, comments, direct messages, I'm not talking to another person in real time. I love having this column here in Vegan Life mag to write all things food waste for you lovely folk, but I don't get to talk to any of you. I am talking about our relationships with food, challenging our relationships with surplus, without the relationship. I was reminded of that after recording podcast episode 'Aspics of Love'.
And so, I bit the strictly metaphorical, do no harm to others, bullet and started 'Alright Raiders', my own podcast in which I can have real conversations, with real people, about our relationships with food and food waste.
I ask each guest the same six questions; who they are, what is their current relationship with food, how does this differ from their past relationship with food, what do they do well in terms of food waste, what do they want to do more of, and what changes do they want to see in the world? Why I went with the same six questions? I like an easy life and my memory is not great. What I'd underestimated was how varied the conversations would be based on the same six; we've talked sustainability, food systems, colonialism, disordered eating, community, environmentalism and veganism. You can definitely expect to see hear some familiar voices from the vegan community, but the guests are not exclusively vegan.
I had several conversations with a vegan friend before I eventually made the transition. She shared her beliefs and views with me and answered my questions. She was a real person, not just a preconceived idea of what vegans were like. We conversed at plant-based eateries, she cooked for me, we broke bread together. And that's what I invite you to do, join me for the conversation, vegan and non-vegan friends alike; let's talk… I promise to keep my bra on… unless you are Tony Mortimer and then it's anything goes.
Find it on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google.