For this Friday’s interview, we caught up with the lovely Serena Lee, founder of Instagram account @vegansofldn. We hear all about how she juggles being a personal trainer, yoga teacher and Vegans of LDN as well as what inspired her to go vegan, to begin with.
Hi Serena! When did you first decide to go vegan and why?
I took up a plant-based challenge for health reasons in April 2014, which was completely self-imposed. At the end of it, I felt great, and continued with it, telling myself I’d go back to eating meat if the vegan diet made me get sick. After thriving on the diet for a few months and naturally being more exposed to the ethical side of things through being a member of online vegan groups, I made the ethical connection and realised I was vegan! I have continued feeling great for almost 3 years now, and want to share the plant-based lifestyle with as many people as possible.
How did you first find going vegan?
Before going vegan, I tried out the Paleo diet for around 8 months. Its whole-food focus meant that I was already reading labels and had learned that there are better sources of calcium than milk and better sources of fat than butter or canola oil. This made transitioning to a healthy vegan diet much easier, I think than if I’d gone straight from junk-food to junk-food vegan.
What do your friends and family think about you now being vegan?
A lot of my friends now are vegan themselves, and the friends who aren’t, tend to express guilt when they eat animal products around me even though I never make a point of what they’re eating. It is as if they are thinking less about me being vegan, and more about themselves not being vegan. It’s the same with some family members – or they feel pity that I can’t’ have whatever they’ve prepared. The next thing for them to understand is that it’s not a ‘can’t’ situation – it is an everyday choice that leaves you free from the guilt they express when they eat meat with me.
What’s your one health tip?
Move around, eat a whole-foods-plant-based diet, and rest. We get sick from stress, from our bodies running on inefficient fuel, and from sitting down all day wasting away. Those aren’t the only things we get sick from, but they are things we have a fair amount of control over – and moving, eating well and taking time out to rest properly can help to prevent those things.
What’s it like being vegan in London?
Being vegan in London is generally easy. Grocery shopping and eating out are easy, and most non-vegan places have vegan options now. Within the next 5 years, I think almost every restaurant in London will clearly label vegan options on their menu, and delivery services will make it easier for vegans to see what they can eat too.
Why do you think there has been such a rise in veganism over the last few years?
Social media. We are more exposed than ever to posts highlighting ethical arguments for veganism and to video footage of slaughterhouses and the like. It is easier than ever to discover that millions of people are thriving as vegans and that many of them have been vegan for decades. There is less fear now because there is more walking, speaking, bodybuilding proof that animal products aren’t necessary to thrive. Recipes are increasingly accessible thanks to Instagram, and the aesthetic nature of plant-based food is very powerful too.
What’s your average day like?
Each day is quite different! As a yoga teacher and personal trainer, normally my days involve some kind of training. And then my time is filled with researching places for VegansofLDN and posting on Instagram, plus video calls and email communications. I also spend a lot of time meeting brands and businesses who want to collaborate, which often involves eating out.
Do you think you have a work/life balance?
My work is my life and I love it. That’s why I quit my 9-to-5 and I couldn’t be happier. With yoga and personal training, these are things I love to do anyway – so getting to teach them is great and really allows me to live my truth every day. My passion is aligned with what I do so it honestly just never feels like work.
What’s the best part of your job?
The best part is probably helping people in some way, whether it’s through yoga/personal training or helping brands reach Londoners and Londoners find vegan options through VegansofLDN. I feel a higher level of happiness helping other people, and I live a minimalist lifestyle which is in line with using the energy currency that comes towards me to put back into facilitating other people in some way. That leaves me feeling nourished every day.
What words do you live by?
Creative over competitive. That is the driving force in my life, no matter how much competition we have, we shouldn’t shun other people that are doing similar things to us because we can all help each other. Especially within the vegan movement – we’re all on the same team. Supporting each other and getting ourselves onto the creative sphere rather than competitive sphere helps us become content with ourselves rather than constantly trying to battle others. Just because someone else is successful doesn’t mean you must now lack success. So be open! There’s room for everyone.
What’s next for you?
Events combining yoga & food! I’ll be working with some of my favourite feeders very soon. We’re also running food tours of London for people visiting – making it even easier for people to know about the huge number of vegan spots in London.
If you loved hearing from Serena find her on Youtube here and check @vegansofldn here. If you are vegan blogger, business or just about anyone leading an inspiring vegan lifestyle then please get in touch about being part of our interview series 🙂
All images via Serena Lee.