For my very first Veghead Profile, I’d like to introduce you to Rachel, who I first met our freshman year of high school in Stuttgart, Germany. She had a major impact on my high school experience and opened my eyes to a lot of social justice issues, like those of the LGBTQ+ community and women. She’s a vegetarian world traveler with a degree in Politics and International Relations from Kingston University in London. Here she recounts why she transitioned to a meat-free lifestyle, gives a handy tip on reusable facial wipes, and tells us what’s next in her life.
Name: Rachel Imlay
Veghead Status: Vegetarian
Hometown: Honolulu, Hawaii, USA/Stuttgart, Germany? I grew up all over cause I was a military kid!
Current Location: Colorado, USA, soon to be Australia!
Occupation: Retail Worker/Professional Avoider of Adult Responsibilities
Favorite Plant-Based Milk: Would probably drink chocolate almond milk like if was water if I could! Always willing to try different plant-based milks though
Favorite Veghead-Friendly Cafes and/or Restaurants: I don’t have a particular favourite at the moment! I’ve been moving around a lot recently so I actually prefer to try a different place every time I can afford to go out to eat.
Favorite Foods: LOVE Mexican style foods, especially as it’s so easy to find vegetarian options. Anything with black beans makes my heart sing. Also a huge fan of Quorn meat substitutes, like their chicken nuggets and veggie sausage rolls.
Favorite Place You’ve Visited and Why: The answer to this will always be London!!! So many different cultures and food options in one place, so many interesting and amazing people as well. London was the first place I’ve lived that I’ve truly enjoyed living life to its fullest.
Favorite Veg Influencer/Celebrity: Might be a fairly typical/obvious answer but Miley Cyrus is definitely a vegan icon. I just love that she blatantly doesn’t give a f**k and continues to always do her own thing. Actually though any celebrity that’s a vegetarian/vegan I really admire, even people like Bill Clinton lol.
Favorite Veg cosmetics/body care brand or company: NYX Cosmetics is definitely an all-time cosmetics fav. They’re completely cruelty free, in addition to being high quality and affordable. Shea Moisture is another brand that I’ve started using lately.
Fav Veg-Related/Environmental/Social Justice Books: Not gonna lie, I don’t do my fair share of reading. Read a really interesting book recently though called The Soul of an Octopus which explores the intelligence and consciousness of octopus.
Fav Veg-Related/Environmental/Social Justice Movies: Again, I’ve been slacking in this department! Forks Over Knives, Planet Earth, and a new Netflix Original called Chasing Coral are a few that come to mind though.
When did you go vegetarian and why? Tell us your story:
I first became a pescetarian in August of 2015. As I learned more and more about the numerous benefits that a meat-free lifestyle has, especially the environmental benefits, I couldn’t morally continue to eat meat. My friend Maddie Jones (the owner of this blog) was actually pretty influential in me starting this journey! Had I not met her in high school and learned more about vegetarianism from her I don’t know how long it may have taken me to switch me over to a cruelty-free lifestyle. I wanted to start off as a pescetarian because I thought it would be easier to stick to if I cut things out of my diet slowly. Actually prior to that I was only eating white meat for about 5 months. After being a pescetarian for a year I realized that I could no longer morally or intellectually defend any of the reasons that I was still eating fish so I went vegetarian, and have been veggie for about 2.5 years now. I honestly love being a vegetarian! I can’t see myself ever going back to eating meat and definitely plan to go vegan in the future.
Tell us about your travels:
Growing up as a US military child, I spent a lot of time travelling around with my family when I was younger. From the age of 11 I lived in Hawaii, and had the opportunity to travel to Thailand and South Korea. I think my travels to Thailand are what sparked my love for animals, as we frequently went scuba diving, and I developed a passion for sea life and the ocean. It was also the first time my eyes were opened to animal slavery; the exploitation of elephants and tigers is so prevalent in Thailand, and my parents took me to these places to unfortunately take enjoyment from what was ultimately their suffering. Though I was too young to understand this as a kid, I look back now and wish I could go back in time and stop myself.
From Hawaii, my family next moved to Germany, where I got the chance to travel through Europe. This is where I fell in love with London, where I ultimately ended up attending university. I actually became a vegetarian while I was living in London and would definitely recommend London/England in general if you’re interested in finding amazing veggie/vegan options while you travel. There’s sooo many food options, from market food to restaurants to grocery stores, and I NEVER found myself limited on options even in non-vegetarian focused restaurants.
One of my favourite food markets in London is Camden Market, which has a massive variety of food stands, with everything from vegan doughnuts to an entire restaurant dedicated to cheese. One of my favourite stands was a halloumi fries stand, which isn’t vegan but is a guilty and delicious treat. Another great city in England for vegan food is Brighton.
Do you have a favorite veg recipe you want to share with us? Or DIY instructions for a self-care product or eco-friendly tool?
I don’t have a particular favorite recipe but I will say that something I was afraid of when going vegetarian was that I’d be limited by my diet and that I would no longer be able to enjoy a variety of food. This is a myth designed by the meat industry to keep you consuming their abusive and environmentally destructive meat!!! I’ve never felt like I’ve really struggled with food options, and even if you’re someone like me who enjoys the taste of meat, there is an ever increasing market for plant-based meat substitutes which still taste amazing.
I’ll also say that since I’ve become vegetarian I’ve maintained my weight more consistently than ever, as well as having clearer skin and healthier hair.
In terms of eco-friendly tools, I’ve been focusing more lately on how I can reduce the waste I produce. One big challenge I had was using single use face wipes cause they’re just so f**king convenient. I found a new reusable makeup removing cloth which I believe is called “Erase Your Face” which is a microfibre cloth that removes literally even the toughest makeup and you can wash it with your laundry.
What are your future plans?
At the end of the month I’m heading to Australia for a year to go backpacking, so I’m so excited to see what vegetarian/vegan options they have! I’ve never been there so it’ll definitely be a new experience. I’m also an avid scuba diver so I’m really looking forward to the chance to see the Great Barrier Reef, which is an opportunity I’m so thankful to still have as it’s being continually affected by coral bleaching due to global warming. After Australia I hope to return to London to pursue a Masters Degree in either Gender Issues or Environmental Politics.
Follow Rachel Here:
LinkedIn: Rachel Imlay