Since embarking on my vegan journey just over a year ago, I have uncovered an entire community of inspirational, funny, creative and interesting people, particularly on my favourite social platform, Instagram. I follow so many brilliant accounts so I thought it was about time I shared some of them with you. Each week I’ll bring you an interview with one of my favourite vegan instagrammers so you can learn a little bit more about the people behind the squares.
So here it is, the first in my Instavegan Interviews series. This week’s post features David, AKA @skinnyveganfitness.
David is a vegan athlete and activist from Manchester, UK, now living in Barcelona, Spain. He’s passionate about fitness, health and animal rights, and has left behind a career in HR to focus on these. David has recently been traveling around Asia, where he climbed to Everest Base Camp, spoke to over 1,000 students about animal rights, and held workshops in both Nepal and India. You can find David’s Instagram at @skinnyveganfitness, his YouTube at Skinny Vegan Fitness and his Facebook at davidramsdenactivism.
How long have you been vegan and what initially motivated you to make the change?
I have been vegetarian since birth and vegan now for just over 10 years, my initial motivation came from finding out I had a slight intolerance to lactose which was causing me some stomach issues. I did some research into it, I was pretty upset at first as I loved cheese! Whilst doing my research it dawned on me – “I’m not lactose intolerant, I’m just not a baby cow”. This awakening drove me to start learning more about animal agriculture, health and the systems that are in place to ensure we continue to eat these products – and now I would never go back.
What inspired you to start posting about your vegan journey on Instagram and what have been the best bits so far?
I had a realisation during my training for the Barcelona Marathon, and the realisation was that big weights and crazy workout plans weren’t working for me, and actually just consistent movement and training was providing me with muscle growth and strength – I thought everyone has to hear this! Being a skinny guy, I wanted to show that no matter what your size or weight, you can hit your goals, and it just takes determination. The account slowly started to adapt more activism, and today I balance the two subjects. The best bits were definitely when I was in the Everest region, those photos are incredible! The Cube Of Truth on Mt Kala Pattar was a special moment.
If you could only follow 5 instagram accounts for the rest of your life which ones would they be?
All absolute inspirations for any vegan or non-vegan wanting to improve their life.
Can you list the 10 ESSENTIAL food items you always have in your cupboard, fridge or freezer…you know, the stuff you NEVER let run out because you use it so regularly.
What’s your favourite vegan recipe to make?
My favourite vegan recipe is the fajita cake! This is the recipe but obviously either take out the chicken or use an alternative, and also change the cheese and sour cream for vegan alternatives (easily found in health food stores or online) and bam, you have a huge unhealthy fajita cake! If you leave out the meat and dairy substitutes it’s actually quite healthy – beans for protein, lots of veg, and throw some brown rice in if you want some extra carbs and protein.
Is there anyone you follow or admire that you’d particularly like to meet in real life?
Yeah I’d actually love to meet James Aspey, he’s an inspiring guy and I imagine having a 5 minute chat with him could be really useful.
Tell me about your friends and family. Are any of them vegan too? How have people close to you as a whole embraced your vegan journey?
Luckily my mum and youngest brother are both vegan, and most of my friends are activists so also vegans! I do have non-vegan friends, and for most of the time they are receptive of the message, but of course being an activist I can rub them up the wrong way from time to time. It’s important to remember that when someone is upset with your message, there’s a good chance that it isn’t you that’s upset them, it’s the message, and if the message has upset them it could be due to a sense of guilt – take it slow with family and friends, and ideally let them watch documentaries without you being there. I have a video on this exact topic here – https://youtu.be/V7KVTOdpXoI
Would you rather have an avocado for a nose or slices of tofu for ears?
Slices of tofu obviously! Because you can hide them, and they’re a great source of protein in case you were ever desperate (stranded on a desert island for example).
What’s your greatest vegan food creation?
My greatest food creation was this masterpiece! Oven baked tempeh and no oil fries with siracha sauce and some kale for that green hit! All very simple and healthy!
If you could give one piece of advice to someone who is interested in taking the leap to being vegan, what would it be?
One piece of advice! Well my advice would be – ask yourself the question, “am I against animal cruelty?”, if you answered yes (which I am 99% sure you did) then it’s probably time to align your morals with your actions, it’s a small change in your life, but it will make the world of difference to the animals. I believe in you!
Which 5 words would you use to describe the vibe/ethos of your Instagram account?
What is the question you’re most regularly asked by your followers? Or the weirdest question you’ve ever been asked?
I get asked a lot on how to deal with friends and family, and their questions or disagreements with veganism, which is why I made the video! The weirdest question I was asked was “Hey are you married and if not, are you gay?”, very direct!
Do you have any big plans for the next few months that we should look out for?
Yes! I plan on returning to Europe and starting a business in plant based nutrition and fitness, watch this space!
Thank you so much to David for taking the time to answer my questions – please go and give him a follow on Instagram and I look forward to sharing another favourite with you next week!