Today’s This Is What A Vegan Looks Like features Ayrton Cooper, who I “met” via twitter. He tweets at @_ayrtonnn and is an animal rights activist who, like me, has a one-eyed cat!
In his own words he says: “I’m Ayrton from Nottingham. I am a zoology student. I have my own little menagerie of rescue animals. Molly and Joey are two cats that live with me – they came with those names! – and they are pretty much in charge. Joey was dumped in a box in a forest with an injured eye so he now only has one eye! He has his own Instagram account too: www.instagram.com/joeytheoneeyedcat. Molly came to live with us about 11 months ago after she was dumped in a cardboard box in a pub a couple of days after Christmas. I went and picked her up when I heard about her and it’s one of the best decisions we ever made!
My other rescues include tortoises (one found in a skip), lemmings, mice (fancy/multis/zebras) and a few others. I never intend on getting more, but if I hear of some that can’t find a home like my albino, inbred mice that no one wanted, I can’t say no. I love all animals and I walk dogs through a charity called the Cinnamon Trust – please check them out and help if you can, they always need more help. It’s UK-wide dog walking and also foster homes.”
Thanks for taking part Ayrton and for giving so many beautiful animals a second chance in life. Take the Q&A away:
1\ What made you go vegan?
I turned vegetarian at 13 years old when I saw some footage of slaughterhouses and animal agriculture online. I’d never really heard of any vegetarians before where I grew up so despite me being an animal lover growing up, I had just never thought about it. It was completely normal to eat meat every day. 9 years on, I felt it was no longer enough after I learned about the egg and dairy industry (when I was 13, the information was aimed towards meat mainly). I gave up milk and eggs to begin with after I had been given an egg in a restaurant and it was full of blood. I complained as I was vegetarian and “vegetarians don’t eat blood”. Anyway, after realising how much of a hypocrite I sounded, that started my slow transition to veganism. It’s the best decision I ever made and I wish that I had decided to do it earlier. I think I would have if I knew other vegans or knew about the huge online community. I’m here now so I’m really pleased.
2\ If you could watch only 3 TV programmes for the rest of your life, what would they be?
I don’t really watch TV very much and when I do, it’s usually just background noise. I must admit though, I love ‘2 broke girls’. It’s my favourite programme and I’ve watched the first few series many times over. I would then pick something like ‘The Chase’ as I love general knowledge and I think knowledge is the most powerful thing we can get. I love to learn new things and I think it can only make you a better person. The third would be anything with David Attenborough as he’s such a legend!
3\ What’s your favourite place in the entire world?
The first place I thought of was home. The obvious answer but I love being with my animals. If I was excluding my home, I’d say behind a placard/outreach stand. I love being on stalls which are for educative reasons. We do them often as part of Nottingham Animal Rights and I love telling people the truth about topics that industries hide and also having discussions with people who disagree with my views; a healthy debate is always good!
4\ What are vegan options like where you live?
Awesome! Especially in the last 12 months, everything has just exploded, especially with pubs/restaurants. I think Nottingham is quite well known in the Midlands now for having a good variety of places to eat. Over the summer, a pub called The Peacock had a refurb’ and opened with a full vegan food menu (& vegan alcohol) – it’s lush. I’ve had the ‘fish’ & chips from there and it was delicious! We have health/vegan food shops too like the Bluebird shop and the Natural Food Company. A café I love is the Crocus café: they are a vegetarian and vegan community café that uses organic, fairtrade and local produce. The prices are so cheap too as they are a not-for-profit café and they also do ‘suspended meals’ to help feed the homeless community.
5\ What is your idea of happiness?
I really like being productive so anything that involves that J. I like doing something then seeing the finished result after. I know most people would say a good day out or something like that but I’d prefer to keep busy than having a day of relaxing. Saying that, I do appreciate time to just chill with my animals!
6\ What 3 other vegans would you like to be stuck in a lift with and why?
Ellen Degeneres for sure! (99% she’s vegan, right?) I think she’s hilarious and such an amazing human being and so selfless. Secondly, I’d have to choose Mayim Bialik! How incredible that she is a neuroscientist showing that she’s really intelligent and also vegan. To study science, I think you must have quite a logical way of thinking so this just proved vegan is a logical way of thinking. I’m not very up on celebs so I’ve had to Google to even find a 3rd but definitely would choose Peter Dinklage – imagine the stories he could tell you!
7\ Do you have a favourite motto?
Erm, I wouldn’t say a motto as such but simply living your life without hurting any other life. Try to do this as much as possible and it doesn’t just include your diet but also where you buy clothes, toiletries, the companies you support, etc.
8\ What are your all-time favourite vegan foods?
I like hearty meals. Nothing too fancy. Like Cottage pie, lasagne, pasta bake, stew, chilli, etc. Something that has a tonne of carbs! For something more particular, I really like 10 Acre cheese & onion crisps and iChoc chocolate on occasion!
9\ What song do you most likely dance to at a party?
I’m not really the ‘party-type’ so I’m simply going to pass on the dancing…
10\ Who in the world would you like to see go vegan?
Probably my family. It’s never something I would suggest to them and I never bring anything vegan-related up to them but it does quite sadden me that they’re doing such damage to themselves and their children (as well as animals/environment of course) without them realising. It’s because we are conditioned and raised in a society to believe it’s normal to eat animals and products from them. In an ideal world, everyone would be vegan but my family most of all as I know they are compassionate people they just lack certain information. (Maybe this will spur me on to drop hints? Who knows!)