I am thrilled to be able to share the next in my series of ‘This Is What A Vegan Looks Like’ interviews with you. It’s a cracker lads, and it’s beautifully illustrated too! Tackling the deviously tricky TIWAVLL questions is today is Holly Exley. Holly is a freelance illustrator working on client projects as well as running an etsy shop and a youtube channel where she makes behind-the-scenes vlogs as well as lifestyle content like: travel, vegan food and thrifting. She lives in the Peak District with her partner and their two dogs: a greyhound called Midge and a pug called Quentin. I am a little bit (ok a lot a bit) in love with Midge and Quentin.
1/ What made you go vegan?
My reaction to finding out about Yulin Festival (notorious dog meat festival held in China) was the tipping point and began my journey of questioning my values and what I had been taught previously. I had no idea the world could be so cruel – which hints at my very sheltered upbringing! I was literally traumatised by what I saw; I had trouble sleeping and was very tearful for months afterwards. A lot of the response from the vegan world was calling people out for their hypocrisy and, after such a strong personal reaction to Yulin, I decided to look into what they were saying. I realised they were right. I was a hypocrite. Although at that time I didn’t eat red meat, I still ate poultry, fish, dairy & eggs – and all of the animals in these industries suffer just as much as the dogs. I finally decided to try Veganuary for the second time in January of 2016 and have been vegan ever since!
2/ If you could only watch 3 TV programmes for the rest of your life, what would they be?
Gilmore Girls, Girlmore Girls, Gilmore Girls?! I really enjoy the escapism into this small American town where everybody knows everyone else, and everyone’s an oddball.
3/ What’s your favorite place in the entire world?
The west highlands of Scotland. Being there makes me feel so inspired to paint.
4/ What are the vegan options like where you live?
I live in a small Derbyshire town surrounded by farmland so the focus is definitely on animal products! But theres a small cafe which sells vegan cakes and delicious vegan breakfasts. We also have a Pizza Express with vegan cheese so I’m basically happy with my lot. My favourite restaurant is a short drive away too – The Allotment in Stockport.
5/ What is your idea of happiness?
Cuddling my dogs on the sofa, with the log fire burning and being completely present in the moment.
6/ Which three other vegans would you most like to be stuck in a lift with?
Kat Von D , Lauren Toyota (Hot For Food) and Sara Pascoe.
7/ What are your all-time fave vegan things to eat?
The best vegan thing I have ever eaten was an Eg and Bacon Pretzel Bun from Butcherless (Sgaia Mheats) – I will never forget it! I also enjoy cashew cheese in all it’s forms , a homemade crumble with icecream or a homemade spaghetti carbonara with tempeh bacon bits.
8/ What song do you most like to dance to at a party?
Probably something from David Bowie or Tears for Fears – I enjoy a cheesy 80’s beat!
9/ Who in the world would you most like to see go vegan?
David Attenborough. Then we could finally have a TV series highlighting the forgotten animals: the farm animals, and hopefully incite some real change. A selfish bonus would be that hopefully he would live longer and I can continue to listen to the wonderful way he talks about the natural world!
Wow. I loved that interview so much! Hear hear to having a programme dedicated to farmed animals – who have complex social lives – and are so much more than the filling in an M&S sandwich. I truly think that you can’t love what you don’t know and so many people don’t know about the friendships and personalities of farmed animals. If David Attenborough can narrate it (alongside Sara Pascoe maybe?!) then I will pay my TV licence with pure joy forever!
I don’t know about you but after looking at Holly’s stunning illustrations I’m suddenly hankering after some avo-on-toast and balsamic plums. Yum! Thank you Holly!