Welcome to the first series of ‘Voice of People’, where we engage with people to unveil what they do to voice a positive action.
In this episode, we have interviewed Shagun Tomar, an Indian origin vegan activist and writer, based in Berlin. After working as a journalist writing on fast-fashion and lifestyle Shagun rapidly realised that penning down words like – 100% genuine calf leather was not meant for her.
As a vegetarian person, she felt a sense of guilt and she felt like an imposter. So, in 2017, she created her personal blog, OKOLOLA, dedicated to sustainable and vegan lifestyles, to share her experience with the world.
Here is what she has shared with us about her thoughts and views on veganism and how she feels about the current state of fashion. Enjoy reading! 😊
Some say veganism is just ‘another diet’, what’s your take on this view?
Veganism is not just another diet because it goes way beyond our food plate. It is an ideology that is based on love and compassion. A lot of people turn vegan for health reasons, but that’s more like eating ‘plant-based’ foods.
Having a vegan lifestyle, on the other hand, includes not using derived animal products at all, such as leather bags, wool or beauty products that harmed animals in the production process.
Greenwashing: Many brands use the ‘vegan’ tag to sell products that do more harm than good to the environment, what do you think about it?
Greenwashing has always been there. Brands would always bank upon whatever is popular to make more money.
But that should not and cannot take away from the credibility of the issue in general. Products based on animal cruelty in any form are unethical. Period.
Consumer awareness is fundamental, we should all be able to differentiate what is just vegan to what is harming the environment.
Influencers and media play a significant role in spreading and educating consumers on differentiating what does ‘vegan’ mean and how to make sure it is ethical and sustainable.
A lot of people argue that having a vegan and sustainable lifestyle is expensive, what’s your take on this?
There is absolutely no denying that most sustainable brands are expensive compared to fast-fashion brands. It is mainly due to ethical production, fair wages and high-quality materials.
However, sustainable living is based on minimal consumption. You only need a few good staples to live a good life.
“The idea of sustainable lifestyle is to live with less and not about hoarding a lot of sustainably produced material.”
Depending on your financial flexibility, you decide your sustainability quotient. Whether you shop from a highly curated brand or a more popular one, use your wisdom and invest in products that you absolutely need and that will last long.
- Buy products from sustainable brands when possible
- You can buy absolute basics from mainstream brands or more accessible brands
- Try to buy most of the things from vintage or second-hand shops.
- Swapping clothes when you have the opportunity, is even better!
Create a balance purely based on your comfort. The idea is to live consciously and not to buy expensive products you saw on Instagram. Most probably they got it as a PR sample to promote anyway.
How do you feel about the world of vegan and cruelty-free fashion?
Every year and by every season, vegan and cruelty-free fashion is improving, and I already see a huge leap compared to let’s say, a few years back when the term was just beginning to float around the fashion capitals of the world. But there is still a huge gap that needs to be bridged.
The first problem is the quality and price equation. As most brands are new and still experimenting with innovations, there is often a mismatch between quality and price.
The premise of sustainable fashion being expensive is based on the longevity of the product. But often new brands don’t meet that claim. This makes for a bad first impression and repels prospective returning customers.
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Sustainable lifestyle is as expensive and as inexpensive as you want it to be. But surely it’s never ‘cheap’. And cheap is a systematic flaw. . Wearing Second-hand knit and organic cotton pants from @lanius_fairfashion . . . . . . . . . . #ecologylife #greenstyle #greenlife #greenlifestyle #greennature #greenfashion #ecolifestyle #minimalstyle #minimalfashion #minimalist #instastyle #vegan #ethicalstyle #consciousfashion #fairtrade #ethicalshopping #plantbased #veganfashion #ethicalfashion #fairfashion #okololashop #sustainablefashion #sustainableliving #consciouslifestyle #indiansustainablefashion
The second problem and perhaps the most important is accessibility. Most vegan and sustainable brands are limited to urban networks, especially among people who are directly or indirectly involved in the industry.
Rest of us, which is the majority of the population across the world, is either not aware of these brands or it is challenging to procure from them.
I think a marketplace that brings together high-quality, vegan-friendly products that not only meet the right values but look chic and modern is critical.
Shagun’s TOP 5 Influencers/Bloggers:
She promotes a vegan lifestyle with a focus on health and beauty, and have her own podcast, which I love to listen to.
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Deliciously Ella Live!! Next year we’ll be putting on eight live shows, a little like a live version of our podcast with special guests and experts for each one, delving into health, wellness and plant-based living, as well as an in conversation and talk with me. This is the biggest thing we’ve put together in terms of events and I cannot wait. See you in May and June Bristol, London, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Dublin, Manchester, Leeds and Hove. Tickets are now live through the link in our bio or head to www.fane.co.uk ❤️
2- Another London based influencer who is fun is Marta Canga with her ever-vibrant posts.
3- Then there is Mia Marjanović of Hey Lila Hey, who makes the effort of writing in German and English both. Her honest reviews and DIY ideas are worth a read.
4&5- Two other amazing people are Chloé of The Green Monki who writes from Belgium and, last but not least, Justine of Justine Kept Calm and Went Vegan from Vienna. Both of them come across as modest, hence relatable.
Shagun’s TOP 5 Brands
1- Good Guys Don’t Wear Leather. Their style and branding are on point and very timeless.
2- I love my vegan sneakers from French brand, Veja.
3- Votch is a London based brand making vegan watches.
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4- Melawear is a lovely brand, for its reasonable and good quality basics.
5- I can also recommend LANIUS for high-quality clothes, most of which are vegan.
Similar Read: Top 6 Sustainable Fashion Brands You Should Know By Now
What are your beauty and wardrobe essentials as a vegan lifestyle blogger?
My wardrobe essentials are a pair of cute pants, a classic white shirt and comfortable walking shoes. They work for a regular day to a date evening, depending on how you dress them. My beauty essentials include a perfect moisturiser, lip colour and definitely concealer. I love dabbing my lip colour also on the cheeks.
Daily habits that help Shagun maintain a more conscious and vegan lifestyle:
- Using soap instead of shower gels
- Avoid plastic use: carry a coffee mug, a steel water bottle and a reusable shopping tote.
- Avoid shopping in supermarkets, instead, go to local markets to support local farmers and avoid plastic packaging.
‘These are fundamental habits but make a big difference in the long run’.
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