Sara Botero, vegan activist, illustrator and creator of The Essential Vegan Toolkit
To celebrate Veganuary 2020, we’ve interviewed our resident vegan activist Sara Botero! As well as working with Liminal 11 on social media, book design and production and much more, Sara is a vegan activist, illustrator and creator of The Essential Vegan Toolkit (just £9.99 during January 2020).
Hi Sara! Let’s start with your background – tell us a bit about yourself…
Hello! I don’t like talking or writing about myself in general so I guess that is why I find so much comfort in drawing and creating work. It is a way to talk to the world through what I create. I have been drawing for as long as I can remember and I had initially wanted to study something creative; however, when I was about 12 I began to be aware of the climate crisis that we are in and decided to study environmental science. I was very burnt out and depressed by the time I finished my degree and none of the jobs that classmates were moving onto appealed to me, so I worked in coffee shops for a while. Whilst in my final year of uni I started my Instagram account, Qitiji, where I posted my doodles as a way to process everything that was going on, so when I finished university I decided to start creating work that was intertwined with social justice messages.
What motivated you to start on your vegan journey?
Since I watched that episode of The Simpsons where Lisa goes vegetarian I have wanted to stop eating animals. However, I never intended to go vegan. It was only through meeting vegans for the first time, eating delicious food and then finding out why the dairy and egg industries are more cruel than the meat industry that I decided to start transitioning to veganism.
What was the first thing you gave up, and what was the last thing / the hardest thing for you to cut out?
I first stopped eating duck after seeing a cute video of a duckling having a bath for the first time, and probably eggs were the last thing to go that I didn’t find as easy to cut out.
What is your all-time favourite vegan comfort food?
There’s too many and I’m also a very indecisive person! Some of my favourites are: lasagne, pizza, roast potatoes with gravy and Fry’s ch*cken nuggets.
Were there any areas you struggled with during your transition to veganism? How did you work through those struggles?
I’m the kind of person that always says yes when food is offered and I’m also a people pleaser, so I remember finding it hard at the beginning of being vegan to say no to people or to let people know in advance about my dietary requirements before going round for dinner or deciding on a restaurant. However, no longer eating animal products was a very important thing for me, so a little discomfort in order to live according to my own values was worth it. Also after a while all the people in my life knew and it wasn’t a big deal.
What inspired you to create The Essential Vegan Toolkit?
Back in 2017 I decided that I wanted to create a book on cute drawings of farm animals, but with facts about what they have to go through. I wanted to do this because it wasn’t until I started investigating that I found out the truth about animal agriculture, and I am sure that there are many more people like me that simply don’t know. It was just an idea at this point, but six months later Liminal 11 approached me about doing a vegan book. The book evolved from not just being informative but also a guide that I hoped would be valuable for vegans and people interested in veganism. I am very thankful that Liminal 11 made this book possible!
You’ve written in your book that, as a vegan, you’re trying to live a more compassionate life. Aside from eating a vegan diet, how else do you try to achieve this?
Educating myself by reading up but also by surrounding myself with people who are also on a journey of growth, both online and in real life. There are certain issues that we won’t be aware even exist because we have been privileged enough to not experience them, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t happen and that there aren’t things that we can do to make a difference.
Since going vegan I have become much more aware of how my actions have an impact and taken steps to change how I live my life. Areas such as fast fashion, which has a huge impact on human lives and on the environment. Basically, do your best until you know better and be actively trying to know better!
We know from experience that some people can be a bit hostile about veganism – how do you deal with such people in real life and online?
Sometimes the most hostile people who have been very anti-veganism are the ones that are battling with morality and how eating animal products reflects on them. There is no point in taking it personally, so I deal with hostile people the same in real life as online: I engage for a bit by either answering questions or asking them questions such “why do you eat meat?” If they engage in respectful conversation then I carry on; otherwise I walk away. there is no point in wasting our energy in getting annoyed. Sometimes these hostile people have surprised me by coming back later and telling me how they are doing things differently.
What’s your #1 go-to tip for new vegans?
Know your reasons and motivations for being vegan really well so if it gets hard being a vegan in this non-vegan world you’ve always got those as a reminder to why you do what you do! 😊
Also, have several go to meals that you find easy to make for when the hunger monster strikes! I couldn’t decide between the two tips, I told you I was indecisive!
Check out Sara’s talk from Reading Vegan Fest!
Want more vegan goodness?
The Essential Vegan Toolkit is just £9.99 in our webshop for all of January 2020!
You get a free vegan nutrition poster when you order from us (pictured below).