This Is What A Vegan Looks Like: Ashiya

Next in this series is Ashiya – @ashiya_586 – who blogs at Five Eight Six  and works for an art magazine. She’s halfway through an MA at Goldsmiths and a musician in Jupiter-C. She’s from Manchester originally but has been living in London for 7 years now. She lives with her boyfriend and their cat Kim (after Kim Gordon) in Bethnal Green.

As well as being a HUGE fan of Kim – look at her. I love Ashiya’s instagram snaps a dangerous amount. Also, any blog that has recipes for vegan chilli cornbread AND mac & cheese is one I am going to be book marking the heck out of.

Over to you Ashiya:

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1/ What made you go vegan?

I’d often thought about veganism but always dismissed it as being too difficult and restrictive. I was brought up vegetarian and had finally reached a point in more recent years where eating out was actually easy, so I felt like I’d be making life hard all over again. Plus I loved cheese and tea, not to mention makeup and shoes. Then, as the story so often goes, I found myself watching a couple of documentaries in January this year and that completely turned everything on its head. I couldn’t go on eating dairy and eggs, buying leather, consuming all this stuff, after seeing that footage. I was hesitating for around a week though, until my boyfriend also watched some footage and immediately suggested we do it together. Having someone do it with me helped hugely (moral support is everything), and I also had a number of vegan friends dotted around so I was able to reach out for advice. Once I discovered that formable oat milk works perfectly in cups of tea and that great vegan makeup exists (Charlotte Tilbury Magic Foundation) I was sold. Now it’s complete habit for both of us.

2/ If you could only watch 3 TV programmes for the rest of your life, what would they be?

The Sopranos and Curb Your Enthusiasm… and Coronation Street. I love Corrie.

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3/ What’s your favourite place in the entire world?

There’s a spot on the coastline of Snowdonia, North Wales where we spent every family holiday growing up. We’d stay in this beautiful, ramshackle 13th century drystone cottage, which was owned by a family friend and had been in their family since the 60s. It was full of decades of oddities and had this huge open fire and cosy kitchen where we’d hang out while mum cooked. It was halfway up a huge hill covered in thick forest, and from the back garden you could see over the trees straight down to the sea where the sun would set each evening. I’m actually a complete city girl (I grew up in the centre of Manchester) and I haven’t been back for over ten years, but it still gives me goosebumps thinking about it. In terms of the best places in the world for veganism, however, I was bowled over by how great Porto was for eating out when we visited for Primavera, in addition to being an incredible city. I’d live there in a heartbeat.

4/ What are the vegan options like where you live?

We’re spoilt for choice in London. My boyfriend and I live dangerously close to Boxpark, so we’ve got Home and Cook Daily right here. Those two are complete game-changers. There are honestly too many options to name though; there’s something to eat wherever you are and it’s almost all fantastic. However I’d say that the most impressive vegan meal I’ve had was actually at an omni restaurant, Lyle’s on Bethnal Green Road (which I only recently found out was awarded a Michelin star last year). I treated my boyfriend to birthday dinner there; I called them up in advance and they organised a special seven course vegan set menu for us both which completely blew our minds. That was only about a month after we’d quit dairy and eggs, so seeing that such creative options were available really helped us to stick with it. It’s also fantastic for grocery shopping around where we live in Bethnal Green; we have one particular favourite grocery store which we go to for fresh veg, fruit, herbs, grains and flatbreads, where the quality beats all the supermarkets hands down yet it’s a fraction of the price. Their produce changes according to the seasons, so I love going visiting (pretty much daily) and picking up whatever takes my fancy.

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5/ What is your idea of happiness?

I love nothing more than long days in the recording studio, playing with music gear and working on new songs. Alternatively if I get the luxury of a day with nothing to do, I do enjoy spending it at home – especially if it’s cold, grey and rainy outside. Having a day solely dedicated to pottering around in the kitchen while listening to records, drinking lots of tea, reading a good book and hanging out with my boyfriend and our cat Kim is pretty blissful. Basically, making music and cooking makes me happy.

6/ Which three other vegans would like most like to be stuck in a lift with?

King Cook so I can badger him for cookery tips, Rooney Mara because I adored her in Carol, and my boyfriend because he’s ace.

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 7/ Do you have a favourite motto, if so, what is it?

As Viv Savage says, have a good time all the time.

8/ What are your all-time fave vegan things to eat?

I reckon the Home Pad Thai with puff tofu is probably my favourite vegan meal. I love the fact that the vegetables they use change all the time, and everything is so fresh and perfectly cooked. At Mildred’s I love the Polish burger, made with beetroot and topped with pickles. I do a lot of cooking at home and generally make vegetables the focus of each meal. I’m constantly inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi so I find myself using a lot of tahini, lemon and huge bunches of fresh herbs. Anna Jones’ two cookbooks have also been a huge help; the way she uses layers of flavours to create complex meals have transformed the way that I prepare food. I was already into cooking before cutting out dairy and eggs, but I do think that my skills have since improved tenfold purely because I’ve been forced to be more creative. I was determined not to live off packets of Tofurky and the like, not least because that works out really expensive…

9/ What song do you most like to dance to at a party?

I’ll say 5-8-6 by New Order, off Power Corruption and Lies, – it’s what I named my blog after!

kim10/ Who in the world would you most like to see go vegan?
I guess I’d be happiest if the people I know who are most resistant to the idea – those who can’t fathom the idea of a meal without meat and deem vegans as being plain weirdos – would give it a chance. Some people are so closed-off to the idea of breaking their habits that they immediately shut down other options, and won’t even try food without meat/dairy/eggs in it. They automatically assume it’s going to be disgusting, which is frustrating. So yeah, I’d love to cook something for any one of those people and have them turn around and say “I get it”. That would be great.
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