Roughly 16 months ago, vegan newbies Roxy Pope and Ben Pook launched So Vegan. Over 100 recipes and 700,000 Facebook fans later, they’re spreading a plant-powered message to millions of people all over the world. Here they explain how it happened.
Ben: I remember seeing all these recipe videos on Facebook and, as a recently-turned vegan, I thought to myself “hang on, where are all the vegan ones?”. I decided if nobody else was going to create them, then why don’t I give it a go?
Roxy: Ben came home and told me all about his idea, and asked if I wanted to get involved. If I’m honest, I had no idea how it would work, but it felt like a really exciting opportunity.
B: We had both recently transitioned to a vegan diet. The facts were there staring right at us: the animal agriculture industry is grossly unsustainable and, like more and more people out there, we knew we had to do something about it.
R: At the beginning, So Vegan was a way of educating ourselves about plant-based recipes and coming up with new ways to cook vegan meals at home. We’ve both been passionate foodies for as long as we can remember – I’d always create quick and nutritious meals, while Ben enjoyed coming up with slow-cooked recipes packed with tons of flavour.
B: Roxy always complains my recipes take too long, but sometimes you can’t rush these things.
R: Ha! Ultimately, the blog is a reflection of our personal journey: discovering the amazing possibilities with vegan cuisine. We create quick, simple, flavoursome and occasionally indulgent recipes. Our mission is to debunk the myth that vegan food is boring – we want to inspire people all over the world to eat less meat and dairy.
B: Just over a year later, we surpassed half a million fans on Facebook and our recipes were reaching millions of people every month. I can’t quite believe it, so occasionally I’ll pinch myself to make sure this isn’t a dream.
R: Yeah, it’s funny to reminisce about what it was like when we first started.
B: I remember getting ready to film our first recipes and realising we didn’t have the right pan to work on our new hob. We were total amateurs!
R: I had to rush out to find an induction pan!
B: I also remember when we published our first recipe videos on Facebook, and waking up the next day to see a flood of positive comments.
R: Yeah, that was an emotional rollercoaster. I was very anxious and thinking ‘are we wasting our time? Will anyone actually be interested’. Then I woke up the following morning, and the first thing I did was look at the videos on my phone. We were on 15,000 views, which at the time was an enormous achievement.
B: A few months and a dozen or so recipes later, we published our video for homemade vegetable crisps, which has now reached over 5 million views. It’s crazy when we think about it.
R: I think it’s lucky that we fell naturally into our roles. For example, I’m in charge of researching and developing the recipes, so it’s handy that I’ve spent my entire life as a musician. Turning my hand to recipes was another way to be creative.
B: I came to terms with the fact I’d never be a musician years ago! But, I have a passion for video production, so I film, photograph and edit Roxy’s awesome recipes.
R: Also, one thing I’m really proud of is the fact we’ve done this alone – just the two of us, in our flat, in our spare time.
B: I agree. It has been a hard slog at times! We both work full-time in the music industry, so we spend most evenings and weekends developing, editing and filming recipes for So Vegan. But when you know you’re contributing to a great cause and helping people make positive lifestyle changes, it’s totally worth it.
R: So Vegan isn’t just about us as individuals. It’s about supporting a movement that strives to create a fairer and more sustainable world.
B: And not everyone will turn vegan overnight.
R: Even for us, it was a gradual transition. I spent a couple of years reducing the meat and dairy I was eating, before deciding to become vegan.
B: Same for me. And the learning process continues. Every day we’re finding out new facts about the devastating impact society’s insatiable appetite for meat and dairy has on the environment and the welfare of animals.
R: I think it can be important not to be judgemental, and to show people the practical, financial and healthy reasons to adopt a plant-based diet, as well as the ethical reasons.
B: So Vegan is a blog for everyone, not just vegans. And this is just the start. We’ve launched a sister project called ‘So Thirsty’ to inspire more people about delicious plant-based drinks.
R: The future is really exciting. We’re looking forward to coming up with more interesting concepts and collaborating with the vegan community to help spread the message: vegan food is awesome!
B: Yep, it’s a really exciting time for veganism. Big brands are introducing more vegan options.
R: And that speaks volumes about how vital the vegan movement has become and how quickly things are changing. Also, there are a lot of individuals and startups doing amazing things and it’s awesome to be a part of that.