What inspired you to go Vegan, Danny? Was there a seminal moment, or was it a gradual process?
I guess there were a few “triggers”, so to speak. The main one happened on a flight from Argentina where I got upgraded .. they served the meals, and I was given a steak. I cut into it, and the amount of blood that filled my plate literally made me want to throw up. I returned it and realised I had to make big changes ... if I was unable to eat animal flesh when it actually resembled animal flesh then obviously something was amiss? I ate fish for a while after that before realising that was no different, so I went vegetarian and started researching the other animal industries such as egg, dairy etc, and came to the conclusion that going vegan was the only option for me.
I started buying various books, following animal rights organisations and so on, and was just mortified at the atrocities I had been contributing to and knew it couldn’t continue.
In your view, what are the biggest misconceptions around Veganism, and how do you dispel them?
I guess the most important misconception around veganism is that it is difficult, something that only a certain kind of person can do. Or that we are giving anything up by going vegan. People don’t seem to realise that we don’t give up anything ... in fact, the total opposite it true!
There are also so many misconceptions around vegans themselves, too. People assume we’re all either obese or skinny and pale. Or that we’re cabbage munching tree-huggers or militant extremists. Or that we live on processed junk food or a diet consisting of twig soup and grass. I think people can bend their misconceptions to suit themselves, often to make themselves feel better about the choices they make in life. None of us are alike, the only thing that unites us is the fact we’ve opened our eyes to the immeasurable animal suffering that dominates society and have changed our lives for the better to try and do something about it.
The main ways I try and dispel them are sharing information, talking to people, giving help and advice and doing what I can to show how easy it is to become vegan.
In your opinion, how has Veganism evolved and changed over the years?
It’s nearly three years since I became vegan, but I had started buying vegan food from 2012, as well as trying to find cruelty free toiletries, clothes, household cleaning products etc. At that time I recall you would not see the *V* word anywhere. There were petitions flying all over trying to get supermarkets etc to start labelling products ... it was kind of like veganism didn’t exist. Even the media, which pretty much covers veganism and animal rights on a daily basis now, didn’t seem to know we existed. I’d say the most important change I’ve seen is the fact that the realities of the industries are not hidden anymore: mainstream media, documentaries, social media, and so on, make it impossible to ignore what is really happening in dairy, egg production, leather, fur, you name it. There is no way that someone can really say they "don’t know" what’s happening out there, and there is no valid excuse not to go vegan. And at the same time, it is easier than ever before. It’s like it’s literally being handed to you on a plate!
You’re a prolific force in the AR world; can you tell me the biggest challenges you’ve faced and the biggest achievements, to date?
Thank you, but I really feel I’m still starting out. I see animal rights and activism as something we are in for life. I don’t think I will ever stop learning about all aspects of it and don’t want to ... from the history to the ins and outs of the exploitation industries and the ways I approach activism and the way I talk to people about it.
I personally feel my greatest achievement is actually getting out and getting involved ... I’d been vegan for a year and was sick of fighting people on social media. I realised it was really dragging me down, as the likes of Facebook etc can really bring out the worst in people, myself included. I wanted to experience dealing with people face to face. For one thing, when you are speaking to people in person, you are 100 times more likely to have a constructive conversation than if you were dealing with a bunch of trolls online, firing steak GIFs at you and proclaiming their love of “mmm bacon”. Secondly, you actually learn so much from being out there, whether it’s outreach, protests, vigils ... you pick up so much information and have so many experiences, some bad but mostly good, which you use to develop.
Who inspires you and why?
Pretty much everyone who is doing what they can to raise awareness of veganism and animal rights, whether it’s organising events, influencing online, saving wildlife and liberating animals, protesting outside slaughterhouses, running vegan sanctuaries ... you name it!
No matter what our background, work or financial situation is, there is something we can be doing and I respect everyone who is doing it.
What advice would you give someone thinking about going vegan?
Just do it! I’ve never met one vegan who didn’t say it’s the best thing they ever did … my only regret is not doing it sooner. There could not be a better time either, what with the sheer volume of cruelty-free products available everywhere, support groups like Challenge 22 and Veganuary, and an absolute world of information at our fingertips. Many people often find it weird when they hear us say that you don’t necessarily have to be an animal lover to want to turn vegan (although the majority of us are!) .. you just have to recognise the sheer scale of the injustice that is taking place all around us, and the immense damage we are causing to our planet and our health.
How do you stay positive when faced with the prevalence of animal cruelty and environmental crisis?
Limiting my time on social media to just trying to share information and not feeding trolls is one of my keys to staying (hopefully!) sane. Regarding animal cruelty, most of us have already seen Earthlings, Dominion, Land of Hope and Glory etc. We know that this suffering exists worldwide, not just in isolated cases but in “high-welfare" establishments, every second of every single day. To further bombard ourselves with graphic footage etc, can negatively impact our mental health so badly, to the extent where we are unable to function properly. We cannot serve the animals if we are being driven to these dark places, so I personally find things like public outreach so beneficial to staying positive.
If we just focus on the stuff we see online, it can become so easy to assume that the majority of people out there are bad and do not care about anything other than themselves. But by having actual face to face conversations with strangers, you start to realise that many people are just like we were years ago, blinded by the labels and myths that the industries and the media bombard us with to make us feel ok about supporting animal exploitation.
You travel the world with your work as a producer and DJ - what places, in particular, have you seen an exponential rise in Veganism?
It’s hard to always get a full picture as I can sometimes visit a place for a very short period … sometimes I’ll land, play my DJ set and then have time for a shower before going to my next gig. But when I do have time to hang out I spend my time exploring … armed with Google maps and HappyCow! One place that has made the biggest impact on me is South America. To see veganism rising in Argentina, for example, is a really big thing. I also get so many messages on Insta from Argentinians, asking questions or responding to my activism posts etc, or even people offering to cook a vegan meal next time I visit. It means so much to see people taking notice, and being genuinely interested, especially when it’s from a country that is known as “steak-capital” of the world.
What’s your favourite meal?
My volcanic lentil and mushroom chilli. Nothing beats it really.
Describe yourself in three words…
Eek!!! I. Can’t!