Businesswoman Katrina Fox helps rebels with causes make a positive difference to others and themselves…
Katrina Fox is an award-winning journalist, media coach, content marketer and editor of the vegan business blog VeganBusinessMedia.com. She is the author of Vegan Ventures: Start and Grow an Ethical Business and has written extensively for niche and mainstream media for 17 years on animal advocacy and ethical business.
What influenced you towards a vegan lifestyle? How old were you at the time?
When I was 11, I asked my mum where the beef burgers we ate came from. When she told me it was made from a cow I was devastated as I loved animals. I then figured out that fish fingers were from fish and chicken was from a chicken and was horrified.
Nearly 20 years later, in 1996, I was taking part in a demonstration against a farm that bred kittens for vivisection and offered the woman next to me one of my cheese and marmite sandwiches. She explained she was vegan and told me about the cruelty involved in the dairy industry – mother cows bellowing in grief as their babies were stolen; male calves killed for veal; and mastitis, a painful condition dairy cows suffer from as they are hooked up to milking machines.
I ordered a copy of The Vegan Society’s Animal Free Shopper Guide and was stunned at how much we exploit and commodify animals. I pretty much went vegan overnight.
What is your philosophy on veganism?
Well, veganism is a philosophy itself. In a nutshell, it’s a way of living that rejects the exploitation, use, abuse and commodification of animals for human consumption. This includes food, fashion, entertainment and other purposes – as far as is practically possible. From a food perspective, this means avoiding products that are made from animals or contain any form of animal-derived ingredients. Veganism is a philosophy of kindness and compassion. It’s about embracing a lifestyle that’s beneficial to people, animals and the planet.
Do my vegan choices really make a difference?
They sure do! The more people become aware of the horrendous cruelty involved in the food they eat and the clothes they wear and make positive choices to reject those products, the market for these unethical products decreases and more animals are saved. As more people demand vegan products, more companies are coming on board to make them, and we’ll eventually see a tipping point where living cruelty-free is the norm.
Is it possible to be 99 per cent vegan?
If you say you’re vegan but eat dairy cheese at the weekends, then no, you’re not 99 per cent vegan – you’re vegetarian. Using percentages to justify consuming animal products in this way isn’t helpful. There are circumstances where it’s impossible to be 100 per cent vegan – such as driving a car because the brake fluid has likely been tested on animals. But those are extreme examples where animal use is so embedded into our systems that it’s not practically possible to avoid it. Checking ingredients in the products you use and only buying animal-free alternatives is definitely practical and possible.
So running a vegan business is the way of the future?
It is! As a journalist of 17 years, I’ve never seen such positive media coverage as I have within the past couple of years. Vegan business owners and entrepreneurs are literally changing the world for the better. Making it as easy as possible for people to eliminate animal-based products from their lives and replacing them with healthy, sustainable and fabulous plant-based alternatives is so important. All things being equal, I believe people will choose the kinder, healthier option.
What are the potential pitfalls in running a vegan business?
The main one is assuming you’ll only cater for vegans. While they make up a percentage of your customers, it’ll be non-vegans who’ll help to keep you in business. Even though you run your business on vegan principles, you don’t necessarily want ‘vegan’ in the name.
Any advice for setting up a vegan business?
Do your market research. Nowadays you’re no longer ‘the’ vegan cheese or ‘the’ vegan chocolate. You’re competing with other vegan businesses. Is there a need and market for the product or service you’re considering launching? How will yours stand out from the crowd? Make sure you do a business plan. If you don’t like the term ‘business plan’ (I don’t!), use something creative like Vegan Vision Blueprint! Write down everything related to your proposed business – from marketing and sales projections to expenses, legal obligations and a host of other aspects necessary to running a successful operation.