As The Official Animal Rights March is this Saturday, I wanted to show you why activism is so important and why coming to the march is one of the least things you can do. Please read my interview with Ricardo Viana and get inspired to make history! Do I see you there?!
When I was visiting the Vegan Festival in Southampton, I met Ricardo Viana. Or actually, we didn’t really meet, I looked him up when I was back home. I did this, because I saw him speaking about veganism. Even though I missed almost all of the speech, I wanted to know more about him and his reason to become a vegan activist. He happily agreed on doing a little interview and so I found myself driving back to Southampton the following Friday. It was so easy to interview him, because he instantly knew his answer to every question. I wanted to share this with you, to make you understand the importance of speaking up.
Ricardo was born in Santo Tirso, Portugal, in 1994, but he came to the UK in 2017. He now is a vegan activist, mostly in Southampton. He does a lot for the Anonymous for the Voiceless. Here is why and how he became vegan and decided to fight for animal rights:
How did you come into contact with veganism?
After 6 months of being a vegetarian, I came across a video on Facebook. The video was called ‘Why Vegetarians Should Go Vegan‘, by ‘The Vegan Activist’. Within minutes I realised that vegan values were the same as my personal values. Being vegan made so much sense, because it meant that I’d be true to myself. So I instantly became vegan.
What is your main reason to be vegan?
I went vegan, first of all, for the animals. Later I learned that it is also better for the environment, for my health, that you save water and that it’s better for wildlife etc. There are so many pros and no cons at all. I said to myself that being vegan is the best thing I could do.
What means veganism to you?
To be the best version of ourselves, in the best way possible! For ourselves, the animals and the planet. To not inflict any harm, because if we can choose not to harm, why would we? Veganism is showing compassion and kindness to every living thing that exist.
What is the hardest part about being vegan?
The negative comments I receive. Especially from family and friends. It’s hard to hear it from them, because it always makes me question ‘Why is this even a question?’ and ‘Why is being vegan weird in their eyes?’. You want the people you love most to be vegan too or to at least understand veganism.
Do you miss anything that isn’t vegan?
Back in Portugal, there is a sandwich called Francesinha (Little French). It originally comes from Porto and it’s the best sandwich in the world. It’s made with different layers of bread and fillings; bread, different kinds of meat, bread, eggs, bread again and then melted cheese. It’s surrounded by fries and there is also a special Francesinha sauce. As you can see, it’s not vegan at all, but luckily, a lot of restaurants offer a vegan version now. It’s made with mock meat mostly or with mushrooms or anything really. There are different versions nowadays. It really tastes so similar to the original one and I always eat it whenever I’m back in Portugal.
When did you decide to become an activist?
The idea came in November 2017, after watching videos from Earthling Ed. Then one day I was walking on the street and there was an ‘Anonymous of the Voiceless’ demonstration going on. A girl came to talk to me, trying to talk to me about veganism. I told her I was vegan already, but that I would like to become a part of activism as well. She directed me and in January I got the chance to do my first thing.
What was your first thing as an activist?
I did a ‘Cube of Truth’ with Earthling Ed, in Portsmouth. It was amazing! I talked to Ed and I told him he inspired me to become a vegan activist. It was a really nice experience. At first I started in the cube, but later on I swapped with somebody, so I could talk to the people too. Before actually talking to people by myself, I shadowed with Ed. Then the very first time I talked to someone by myself it was quite hard, because the man I talked to was very defensive. Of course I didn’t give up and luckily the conversations I had later on, went really well.
How important is activism?
In my opinion activism is very important! Not only vegan activism, but every kind of activism. When you believe in something, you should fight for it. So it doesn’t matter if it’s for animal rights, woman rights.. anything really. If you think something needs more attention, then you should make an effort.
If we share the vegan word, if we plant more seeds and change people’s mind, we have supply and demand. Supermarkets and restaurants will have to change, because there is a demand. If we can change the supply and demand, we can change everything and that is how the world becomes a vegan world. It’s the least that we can do for the animals, the planet and ourselves!
How do you deal with negative people?
What we have to remember in activism (and not only in activism), is that if we transmit a negative energy back to the people who are rude or negative, we are not only giving them something that they will use against you, but we are also not showing the whole point of veganism. Veganism stands for compassion and kindness to everyone. I always suggest that you cut evil when you receive some. I take the negative comment and then answer it in the most positive way that I can, so the public can see that I’m not against them. I don’t see them as the enemy, I just want to help. A lot of the people have a very good response to that.
Do you have specific goals?
The ultimate goal is obviously to make the world vegan. Something I would like to see short-term, is more vegan restaurants in Southampton. At the moment there is only one in the centre.
What is an easy, but effective way to spread the message, that everybody can do?
Every little thing you share about veganism, is already doing activism. Like simply sharing vegan videos, pictures and mentioning veganism in conversations. Talk about veganism with other people. This all is more like passive activism, but it is always helpful. Always do whatever you can!
Who and or what is your biggest inspiration?
My biggest inspiration for sure, is Earthling Ed! I look at him with so much similarity. If I have to recommend videos to someone, I recommend his videos. He is really on the right track. I look at him as a mentor. He does what I want to do.
Is there anything you want to add to this?
To those who are not vegan (yet), I would like to say: please look into veganism. If you have doubts about veganism for health, then watch ‘What The Health’. If you have doubts regarding the environment, watch ‘Cowspiracy’. If you never thought about veganism at all, then do some research for yourself and make your own conclusion.
To those who are vegan already I would like to say: If you want to see a vegan world, see more vegan options and if you want a less pain inflicted world (it doesn’t matter for what reason you’re vegan), then fight for your lifestyle. Think about vegan activism, do it, because it’s the least we can do!
I hope that this inspired you to look into veganism more and/or to speak up about veganism! If you can and want to do more into the world of activism, please look into it as well. Maybe there is already something being organised close to where you live or maybe you can set up something yourself. Make your voice heard for the ones that can’t speak for themselves!
I want to thank Ricardo for doing this interview with me and for being so inspiring and brave. You are somebody I admire a lot. You are making a change. Also, you are one of the nicest persons I ever met. Thank you so much for answering the questions with so much love, compassion and enthusiasm. Your heart is definitely in the right place! You are changing the world and I hope you’ll witness the day that the world is a vegan world.
Did this interview inspire you and would you like more information on how to get involved? Do you have questions about going vegan or anything else.. please contact me! I would also love to see your activism pictures and read your stories about how you are making this world a better place. You can show me by tagging me on Instargam or by using #planetmanel. Thank you for reading, X.