Little Sausage is a new verbatim musical about the nation's most controversial Sausage. It uses the real words of 'real' men to explore toxic masculinity, plant-based dating, and the game-changing Gregg's vegan sausage roll. Little Sausage follows a Yorkshire lad and how his relationship with friends and family changes during his journey from cheese addict to animal activist, including his decision to bulk up (with several cans of baked beans a day) in order to defy the stereotype that vegans are all 'pale, pasty and wasting away'. With words and lyrics comprised entirely of interviews with everyone from an Australian activist to a non-vegan who grew up in farming communities in Northern England, Little Sausage uses real words and folk-pop music to explore the myth that meat equals manliness. We caught up with producer Deborah Vogt to talk about the importance of bringing this lifestyle to the forefront through the medium of theatre. 

Little Sausage

Little Sausage

Please tell us about Little Sausage for those who are new to it.

Little Sausage is a new verbatim musical that takes real words and folk-pop music to combat the myth that meat = manliness.

Why did the world need a vegan musical?

Veganism is growing. McDonalds has a vegan burger. Kim Kardashian is vegan. I love being vegan and I love writing, so I wanted to create a musical about veganism for a while. As a writer, I can be kind of quiet and often writing is my tool for communication. Musical theatre is such a great way to connect and share stories and we wanted to create something that vegans and non-vegans could enjoy together. Besides, we’ve already had an amazing musical about meat pies, so why not have one about vegan sausage rolls?

With the rise in veganism over the last few years, why is now the right time to talk about it on stage?

I think veganism is slowly becoming more acceptable (in some circles) so I’m actually more surprised there isn’t more veganism on stage. Activism takes so many strands but I haven’t seen vegan activism take the stage yet. Whereas our show isn’t activism (I promise no fake blood will be thrown on audiences), my favourite kind of theatre shares a new perspective and incites new conversations. Most of the time I’ve seen vegans on stage or on TV, we are the butt of the joke. I wanted to create a piece of work where the vegans are in control of their own narratives, which is also why verbatim was a great tool.

Why did you want to structure it as a series of interviews about people's experiences of veganism?

I wanted to try to write a new kind of musical and I had never written a verbatim musical. When my male friend told me about his experience trying to bulk up and gain weight once he became vegan because he wanted to show that vegan men can be big and strong, I realized how little I understood his perspective (as a woman, I was taught I should be losing weight, not gaining weight!). I wanted to hear from other men about their experiences in the hopes that hearing specific stories would make some people feel less alone. Verbatim theatre has given me the opportunity to share real people on stage that I don’t fully understand and let communities tell their own stories, while experimenting with a form that is new to me.

What is the connection between veganism and masculinity?

From a young age, I think boys and men are fed the idea that meat = muscles = manliness. There’s something very stereotypically ‘masculine’ about hunting and eating a steak whereas ads for women are way more often about salad or yogurt (no thank you!). So I think it’s a lot harder for men to learn about veganism, let alone admit that they are interested. We hope this show fights two things: the idea that you can’t gain muscle on a vegan diet and the idea that you even need to be super muscly to be ‘a man’. One of the men we interviewed is from Australia, which apparently has a lot of toxic masculinity and he had a lot of interesting things to say about the connection between veganism and masculinity, but you’ll have to come to the show to find out more!

Please tell us about the most extreme reactions you've had to the way you live.

Ha, good question. I think (unfortunately for men) it’s much more acceptable to be a female vegan, so I haven’t anything too extreme. Just a lot of the usual ‘what would you eat on a desert island’ or ‘would you eat a human if you had to’. I can’t imagine meat eaters get asked about cannibalism nearly as much as vegans. I did have someone tell me they would eat twice as much meat to make up for what I was missing, which is just a weird stance to take.

Do you think existing meat eaters are just misinformed?

Sometimes. I think a lot of people do know how bad things are in slaughterhouses and dairy farms, but they don’t want to see it or think too much about it. If everyone was constantly face to face with the reality, I think there would be more people cutting down their meat and dairy consumption, but it’s a lot easier to not think about where you breakfast or lunch has come from before it lands on your plate. Food is such a personal thing for so many people - so often connected to family or community - and once you start to question the ethics behind one thing, it opens a whole bunch of other questions. But it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. I just wish people thought a little bit more about their choices and if one bite is worth an entire life to them.

What has been the biggest game changer for you when it comes to veganism other than the vegan sausage roll?!

Oat milk, hands down. I’m such a coffee snob and I never really liked almond or soy milk with espresso so I vividly remember the moment I had my first oat milk flat white. I told all my friends in Canada about it, saying ‘you guys just wait. this thing called oat milk is coming’. And now it’s everywhere. I’m drinking one right now (shoutout to Stir Coffee in Brixton).

How did your relationships change with others when you became vegan?

It’s difficult. I think most people are generally supportive, but there’s something about being in the presence of a vegan that just makes people uncomfortable. Even if I don’t bring it up, suddenly dinner conversations are about protein and supplements and ethical farming practices, and I’m put under a spotlight. You have to find the balance of trying to get people to understand why being vegan is important while not alienating others. My friends and family are great at making vegan food, but I don’t think they understand how difficult it is for some vegans to be around meat. When a friend orders a steak, I don’t see food. I see the animal whose life was taken away. But I can’t say that every time.I used to feel a lot of guilt about it and offer to bring my own food if I was invited somewhere for dinner. But I try not to feel guilty anymore because my choices are about trying to reduce harm and I’m not sure others feel guilty every time they eat a bite of steak. I hate confrontation, but I’m really open to conversation and I just hope others are too.

What is next for you?

In terms of veganism or theatre? I can answer both maybe. My playwright friend and I are in the early stages of talking about collaborating on a play about an interracial female friendship that starts to crack when one of them becomes vegan. As much as I love being vegan, there’s a lot of racism within White veganism and this show would be an opportunity to have an honest conversation that celebrates and criticizes the vegan movement. I’m also working on some TV and comedy projects, but I can’t say more about those!

MORE: Founders of the UK's first plant based waffles discuss the future of the modern bakery

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