Jak Elmore is 24 and from Worksop. He's just been shortlisted for the Hottest Vegan 2016, a competition held by PETA. We caught up with him to ask him about his personal journey into veganism and what advice he has for vegetarians looking to go one step further.
You've been vegan for about a year, so please tell us what made you convert from vegetarian to vegan.
I accidentally found out about what happens to male chicks in the egg industry. I'll give you a hint - there's not a plantation of paradise for cockerels somewhere in chicken-land where they send them all to get old and fat. There's no real way to avoid causing harm to animals even when you're just using products that the animal produces without being killed - at least not directly. The egg and dairy industries are very clever about how they advertise to the consumer about "grass-fed" and "free range". Even grass-fed dairy cows are kept in a constant state of pregnancy (have you ever spoken to a woman about how pleasant 9 months of pregnancy is? Imagine your whole life!). They're then killed at 4-5 years of age, which is equivalent to a human being killed as an adolescent. This knowledge on my conscience just made it natural for me to stop buying and using products from animals because I just don't need them!
What advice would you give veggies looking or struggling to go vegan?
Cheese isn't a big deal! Make your own recipe book. Try every plant milk in your coffee before you dismiss it! And Google "Fry's Chicken Nuggets". Fin.
You are very outspoken about the benefits of a cruelty free life so how do you communicate this message on a daily basis?
I like to encourage people to try my delicious food! I then drop my signature tagline (stolen from a PETA video): "The best part about this recipe is you don't have to eat body parts and s***!" I'm just very honest with people about where things come from. If people ask about my veganism I'll explain politely about the misconceptions that eggs and dairy can be produced without harming the animal and try to help dispel their delusions. I'm also a little ruthless when people try to joke about my ethical choices and I'm quick to blast them with videos of where their dinner came from. Did you say outspoken or smartass?
How long did it take you to eliminate animal derived products from your life?
It took me about 2 years! It all started when I tried soya and almond milk. After that, I basically began to live as a vegan "unofficially" still clinging onto a few old favourites such as certain cheeses. Eventually one day I realised I was making excuses for myself, compromising my own moral standards, and I changed on the spur of the moment and never looked back. I did my vegan shop the next day and haven't bought anything associated with animals since.
You are training to be a dancer so what sort of things do you eat while you are exercising?
I eat a ton to be honest. I have a huge smoothie in the morning made with banana, spinach, walnuts, soya milk and soya protein. I tend to snack on hummus, Nakd products or a banana in my first break, and at lunch I'll have either pasta with some homemade sauce of tofu pesto or like 984kg of hummus and pita, with fruit. I'm totally addicted to energy drinks as well, and have to have one at lunch. Maybe that's a dancer thing. Sorry- not sorry!
For dinner it's normally something more creative. A few favourites of mine and the other half are tacos, fajitas, chilli, gourmet hot dogs, squash korma, cheese-free cheese burgers, or cheese-free barbecue pizza with half of the planet's biomass of vegetables on it. *salivating* I have to eat a lot of carbs and protein to give me the strength to chuck girls around! Being vegan made me more careful about macro nutrition and I've gotten a lot stronger.
Your favourite meal is chilli sin carne - what's so sinful about it?
Absolutely nothing. One portion of it is 3 of your 5 a day (8 a day in my case) and it's damn delicious. I'm making it for my family later today actually.
The clue is in the name (*tune of "sex is in the heels" from kinky boots*).
Chilli CON Carne meats chilli with meat. Chilli sin carne is chilli without meat. Just the way I like it. Mwah.