This edition of the ‘Food For Thought with Vegan Change Makers’ interview series celebrates the Fashion Revolution Week 2019 (22nd – 28th April 2019) from a vegan perspective! Fashion Revolution Week is a global movement, featuring the #WhoMadeMyClothes campaign, which falls every year on the anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh, which killed 1134 people and injured many more on 24th April 2013. The catastrophic event was a wakeup call to the producers and consumers of the fashion industry across the world and that’s how the Fashion Revolution movement was born. Every year during the Fashion Revolution Week, brands and producers are encouraged to practice accountability and demonstrate transparency in their supply chain by responding with the hashtag #IMadeYourClothes. The ultimate goal of the movement is to promote sustainable, ethical and safe production as well as conscious consumption in the fashion industry world wide. The Fashion Revolution movement is very much in sync with the concept of slow and sustainable fashion, which reduces the negative environmental impact of waste from the fashion industry; which in turn, ties in very well into the conversation about veganism, vegan and cruelty free clothing and the positive impact that a plant based lifestyle can have for the environment, for the animal kingdom and for our own personal well being:) Veganism extends beyond our food choices; it’s a lifestyle choice which influences the way we eat, the clothes we wear, the products we use and the way we choose to live our lives every single day:) Veganism and Sustainable Fashion go hand in hand and this edition of ‘Food For Thought with Vegan Change Makers’ celebrates this symbiotic perspective:)
This special issue features Darya Gruzdeva, the fashionable 23 year Vegan Instagram Blogger from Greece who is the face behind the sustainable and cruelty free fashion blog, Ethical And Easy🙂 I LOVED putting this interview together and I have to tell you; you’re in for a real treat! Great vegan fashion and plant based lifestyle advice as well as beautiful photographs of her vintage, thrifted and stylish vegan clothes! Let’s dive right into her interview which talks about her journey through slow fashion and a plant based lifestyle, with great tips for anyone looking to consciously make more ethical, sustainable and cruelty free choices in their every day lives! Happy Reading:)
PS: She’s also a Pawrent/Meowmy to an adorable rescue kitten and you can read about her wonderful fur baby’s #AdoptDontShop story towards the end of the interview:)
- Name: Darya Gruzdeva
- Location: Athens, Greece
- Change Maker Category: Vegan Fashion Blogger
- Blog Name: Ethical And Easy
- The Year the Blog was born: 2018
- The Elevator Pitch: All about sustainable and fair fashion, clean beauty, veganism & zero waste living!
- Blog Post Topics: Thought articles, recipes, products reviews & recommendations
- Instagram Handle: @ethicalandeasy
Tell us a little bit about yourself. What’s your story? When & why did you decide to go vegan?
I’m originally from Ukraine, a country with a really strong meat and dairy eating tradition. So as a child I was raised dependent on dairy; that’s why my cholesterol levels were far beyond normal. As a teenager and a college student, I tried several times to follow a vegetarian diet, but unfortunately without great success, because I hadn’t read enough in order to plan a balanced whole foods plant based diet. For the past two years, I’ve been struggling with several health issues, which led me to research and educate myself further on health problems. I was lucky to find and come across all the right information! My best friend who is an animal rights activist really helped me out too. Around this time I started making the connection; I started realising that speciesism misled me for so many years. So it was obvious that veganism was the solution to overcome my health problems and to match my ethics. I now feel so much more empathy and kindness for all the animals and I’ve undoubtedly become a better person. And I have become an animal rights activist myself.
When & why did you start your blog and what is your vision/mission or dream for the blog in the future?
After going vegan a year ago, I started noticing all these massive changes in my health and overall well-being, including mental health as well. I just wanted to inspire and encourage others to discover how veganism can change their lives in so many different ways. So the whole concept of the blog was to share my transition to vegan living and to show how easy and effortless veganism can be. Why should one choose to eat or wear animals when there are so many alternatives available that are completely cruelty free?
What do you do when you’re not blogging? What’s your day job?
Ι’m currently in the last year of my undergraduate psychology degree; along with that I also volunteer in two mental health facilities. I’m also learning Swedish; because I’m moving to Sweden in about half a year.
How did you start practicing slow and ethical fashion? And how does it connect with veganism and a cruelty free lifestyle?
When I became aware of the environmental impact of factory farming and livestock, I started questioning all the other everyday choices I made. By watching the “True Cost” documentary and “Sweatshop” TV series, I learned how fashion can negatively affect and contaminate our environment and especially human lives. At the same time, I started ditching plastic and minimising my waste in general. So all these changes happened over the course of few months. I think I just needed to re-evaluate and re-define my life’s priorities.
What does your typical weekly wardrobe look like in terms of vegan and slow fashion outfits?
Most days I prioritise comfort so I prefer to wear casual clothing. I mostly choose oversized denim with a loose basic T-shirt and for shoes I wear vegan sneakers or vegan boots. In a formal event, I would rather wear a blazer with a striped shirt with wide leg trousers. I don’t really follow the current trends, that’s why thrifting is so easy for me!
What is your typical daily vegan meal plan? What do you usually eat for breakfast, lunch, snacks & dinner?
During spring or summer time, I drink huge smoothies with lots of healthy fats such as hemp seeds, chia seeds and avocados. Oatmeal (porridge) is the breakfast of choice during winter. Then for lunch, I usually prepare a big bowl with seasonal local vegetables. At this time of the year, my favourite bowl consists of roasted sweet potato, with kale and broccoli, asparagus and zucchini with teriyaki and soy sauce on top. Finally for dinner, I can have a hot stir fry or a pad thai with buckwheat noodles.
What is favourite vegan comfort food/dish?
I’m currently obsessed with spinach lasagna! I also love snacking on cacao date energy bites. Finally, the day I realised I can make a vegan omelette the exact same way (flavour wise), with scrambled tofu or chickpea flour, was one of the happiest day of my life!
What is your favourite vegan friendly cooking ingredient that we will always find in your kitchen?
Chickpeas! With chickpeas I can make hummus, buddha bowl, salad, burgers; even cookie dough. They are so versatile!
“We should think of our clothes as our everyday companions; therefore we can choose really carefully and consciously what we buy and who we support by doing this.”
What is your favourite vegan/cruelty free item of clothing/fashion that we will always find in your wardrobe?
I love well designed and high quality vegan shoes. In the past, it was really difficult to find vegan shoes, but now there so many brands out there creating long-lasting beautiful pieces!
What’s your favourite vegan fabric or material and why?
Lyocell. It’s very soft, easy to wash and the most eco-friendly of the regenerated fabrics. Tencel is made from eucalyptus or oak trees that are sustainably-farmed, and then produced into fibres. Also, you can’t go wrong with organic cotton and linen. They are so much more resilient and long-lasting than conventional cotton; for sure my second choice!
What is your favourite vegan/cruelty free personal care, beauty/makeup or lifestyle product that we will always find in your home?
Definitely shampoo and conditioner bars! It’s really easy to use them and they are long-lasting. I prefer using products, made from a short list of ingredients that I would easily understand. I’m much more into clean beauty lately, so I’m gradually transitioning to clean beauty products.
What is a product or ingredient that you were surprised to learn is not vegan?
More than one month after going vegan, I was still eating jelly unsuspectingly, when I accidentally found out what it’s made from (Gelatin is not vegan!). There are so many ingredients in our food, that we never imagine where they come from! It’s really frightening to think about it. I didn’t know that candles contain non vegan ingredients such as beeswax, stearic acid, etc.
What is the most common veganism or sustainable lifestyle related question that a lot of people ask you & what is your answer to that?
I guess the most common question is “How do you manage to always find a sustainable and vegan option of everything?”. The answer is of course, that I’m not perfect and nobody has to be. You just have to do your best to cause the least possible harm. My Instagram page is not a place where people are judged whether they are not 100% zero waste or vegan. It’s an open space to share information, experiences and thoughts, to encourage and empower one another. Perfection isn’t what matters, what matters is effort and intention. The most common fashion related question I get is “How can I choose more sustainable clothes?”. My answer, apart from mentioning ethical brands and thrifting as a great solution, is to point out that the real change in consumption comes from mentality change. We should think of our clothes as our everyday companions; therefore we can choose really carefully and consciously what we buy and who we support by doing this. By loving our clothes, we can expand their lifetime and prevent them from ending in landfills!
“I’m not perfect and nobody has to be. You just have to do your best to cause the least possible harm..Perfection isn’t what matters; what matters is effort and intention.”
What is a common vegan lifestyle related stereotype or myth that you often come across & that you want to address or break?
Apart from the misconception that vegans don’t get enough protein (plant based protein for the win!), most people don’t realize that everyone can thrive in a whole food plant based diet. It goes without saying that many people are not seeing the health benefits of a plant based diet because they are afraid to change their habits and this is totally understandable. The biggest myth is the B12 deficiency, which according to the myth, most vegans can’t avoid. There are so many people out there living on dairy and meat without knowing they are B12 deficient. Supplementing is a simple and easy way to assure you won’t run out of B12. Still when one follows a well balanced Whole Foods Plant Based (WFPB) diet, there is low risk of overall nutritional deficiency.
What’s your favourite veganism/cruelty free lifestyle related Book/Movie/TV Show/Podcast/Instagram Account that you would recommend to others & why?
I really appreciate Melanie Joy’s work on speciesism. I think she could be a great influence for people who haven’t made the connection yet! I also admire Earthling Ed; especially his eye-opening ‘30 Excuses‘ answers. Finally, I must mention Dr. Greger from NutritionFacts.org, whose articles I read almost every day.
What advice would you give to first time thrifters looking to transition to sustainable and slow vegan fashion? What are your top tips/things to look out for when shopping for/buying vegan and ethical fashion products?
I would definitely advise them to choose high quality clothes and avoid fast fashion even when thrifting, because they won’t last long. Seek for good versatile pieces, they will make your life easier and your wardrobe simpler and more effective. Finally, avoid animal based fibres and textiles, because even when thrifting, it’s important not to create demand in wool, leather, silk etc; so companies will switch to cruelty free and vegan alternatives.
What advice would you give to aspiring bloggers or entrepreneurs looking to start sustainable and vegan fashion businesses or blogs?
If they really dedicate themselves to whatever they are doing, people will follow them in their journeys and will relate to them. To me, it’s important to put your heart and soul into something! And of course, stay true to yourself and your values no matter what.
What advice would you give to people who want to transition to/continue to maintain a vegan lifestyle?
Ι would encourage them to take small steps towards a vegan lifestyle, in order to feel comfortable with the changes and enjoy the whole process.
And finally, you’re a Cat mom to a kitten you adopted! Tell us a bit about your wonderful fur baby and the story of how you found him and how you will take him with you from Greece to Sweden:)
I think he actually found me! I was returning home from my pilates class and all of a sudden I saw a tiny little kitten with a broken leg crossing the road and heading to the dumpster. I waited for almost an hour for him to trust me and come out. Then we went straight to the vet! He was very skinny and badly injured everywhere; but mostly in his right leg. I couldn’t believe we made it and he lived! I couldn’t leave the house for more than an hour for the first month after I adopted him. It will be quite stressful for him when we would move to Sweden, but I couldn’t leave him behind; by no means. I highly recommend everyone who wants a pet to adopt and save one, instead of buying; breeding is very unsustainable both for the animal population and the environment. Furthermore, the story of you adopting him will bond you two forever, just like with me and Kärlek! His name means love in Swedish:) #AdoptDontShop
I hope you enjoyed the third edition of ‘Food For Thought with Vegan Change Makers’! I would love to hear your comments or feedback about other interesting questions I could add to my interviews in the future! I’m also looking for other exciting vegan change makers to feature in my upcoming interview series. If you know anyone who is making a difference in the world of veganism (anywhere across the globe), then please leave me a message on my Contact page with the details! Thank you:)