When I first met Klaus about 3 years ago, he was quite shy but instantly I knew he was someone I wanted to be friends with. Since then Klaus has pursued online vegan activism with vigour. His background as a scientist underpins his thorough research of topics that have helped make his Plant Based News a huge success.
Klaus will be speaking on the main-stage at Vevolution, I sat down with him before to talk about his vegan journey so far and plans for Plant Based News in 2017.
What initially attracted you to veganism?
I was originally attracted to the vegan lifestyle through wanting to feel healthier. I read the China Study and then after months of slowly taking animal products out of my diet, I was eventually eating a vegan diet by 2013, although can't remember the exact date. This had a slow, but profound effect on my consciousness and I began to understand the ethical issues much better. By late 2013, I had watched Earthlings and this was the tipping point; no longer did I want to be part of the injustice.
I know when going vegan one of the biggest struggle for you was overcoming social pressure from friends. What tips do you have for other people facing similar pressures?
Confidence is the key. I used to be shy about my vegan lifestyle, but that made me look awkward. Whereas, now I'm more confident with it - and even though people might think I'm strange for not eating or wearing animal products, it doesn't seem as off putting as before, when I was really shy and not clear at communicating with people why I was doing it. Stamp your individuality on the situation and don't care what people will think would be my advice.
So not many people know this about you but you're a scientist and really into your research. What big trends are you seeing coming from the medical community in relation to veganism that look set to break into mainstream conscience in 2017?
Dr Esselstyn recently said 'medicine is on the absolute cusp of a seismic revolution in health'. I feel this plant-based doctor's predictions are perhaps slightly too optimistic, but I think there is some truth in what he says. The main barrier, however, is money. If healthcare providers can encourage doctors to recommend plant based diets by financial reward, however, there is hope.
You have done some crazy endurance challenges in the past. Do you have ambitions to more in the future?
In 2010 I went bike touring for 5 months in South America, and in 2014 I did a solo hike across Malaysia for charity, so I've done more than a little cycling an hiking. The next challenge will be on water. I currently live on a boat, but want to do a kayaking trip along a wilderness river in Canada at some point in the future.
I feel like we have grown up in the vegan movement together. How do you feel things have changed in the past few years?
Honestly, I look back at my friendship with you (Damien), and I get a really nostalgic feeling because, although we have only known each other 3 or so years, the community has changed massively. We've had some great times together and seen a lot of people come and go. Back when we first met, the London vegan scene was fragmented, and was characterised by two separate groups: the animal liberation activists, and the raw food community. Now, it has met somewhere in the middle, where I feel the community has come together a bit more and has a balance of people that are environmentally, ethically and health minded.
Plant-Based News has been a huge success. You have teamed up with our friend and my collaborator on Swine Robbie Lockie. Tell me what you are plans for the new Plantbasednews.org are for 2017?
I'm very grateful for the collaboration I have forged with Robbie Lockie. He has built the plantbasednews.org website, and it has been amazing working with him. We are actually launching the website the day after Vevolution!
What are you most excited for at Vevolution?
I'm excited for Vevolution because there is literally no event like it. It won't be as corporate and as hectic as vegfest, and I am looking forward to meeting everyone there, after my talk in the morning!!
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