Jodi Monelle, founder of LIVEKINDLY, is a true vegan goddess! Here’s why
By Chere Di Boscio
Since I launched Eluxe way back in 2013, I’ve been happy to see loads more sustainable fashion and vegan blogs and magazines cropping up, and one of my very favourite publications is LIVEKINDLY. Packed with positive news about vegans and veganism, this is my absolute go-to source for grabbing great recipes, finding out about vegan events, and learning all the juicy (vegan) celebrity gossip!
The founder of the publication, Jodi Monelle, is a virtual publishing powerhouse. Managing a staff of nine, the tattooed blonde from Britain (but now based in Vancouver, BC) churns out loads of exciting content every single day.
Of course, I was curious to know how – and why – she does it, so I couldn’t resist requesting an interview. Here, Jodi shares her motivation for launching LIVEKINDLY, how she sees the world of veganism changing, and some of her favourite foods, as well.
First up, what prompted you to launch LIVEKINDLY?
I couldn’t find anything out there in the digital world that spoke to a broad audience about veganism in a positive, inclusive manner. Mainstream media often misrepresent veganism in a negative light and even alternative pro-vegan media tends to focus on the problems instead of the solutions.
I wanted to empower people to make positive and sustainable lifestyle choices – to create content that appeals to a non-vegan audience and highlights how big of an impact you can create with your daily choices and how joyful a compassionate lifestyle can be. We don’t deny or minimise the issues that we face, but choose to create content that is solution-focused and hopefully inspires people from all walks of life to take a step toward kinder living.
Since you launched the magazine, how have you seen attitudes towards veganism change?
I think we LK launched on the cusp of a vegan boom so yes, in the last 1.5 years in which we have been operating there has been a major shift in the way people think and talk about veganism. Of course the stigmas are still very much there, but with availability of vegan food and apparel booming, I don’t think there’s anyone in Western society who hasn’t been aware of it. It’s exciting to see that the archetypal vegan stereotype is slowly disappearing as the world becomes more accepting of the lifestyle.
What are some of the biggest steps towards progress or change in this arena that you’ve noticed over the past few years?
The availability of products! Look at any dairy case in the supermarket and 80% of that refrigerator is a variation of plant-based milk. It’s so exciting to see – eating vegan is becoming more and more convenient by the day. Vegan fast food chains are popping up all over the States and we honestly can’t keep up with the number of dairy free ice-cream brands on the market.
What are some of your favourite vegan brands?
I generally don’t purchase brands that often and where I can, opt for a whole-food plant based diet when cooking from home. However I am always excited to try new innovative products and want to vote with my dollar when I can.. and if I ever want to impress a non-vegan with the options we have I’ll go for anything from Beyond Meat. Violife cheese is incredible and Oatly or Califia Farms milks are amazing!
What’s your go-to vegan meal?
I have a few staples! I love making ‘pesto’ sauce with kale, soaked cashews, nutritional yeast, hemp seeds and garlic and having that with pasta or broccoli. Another favorite is lentil chili with rice. My boyfriend also makes a mean ‘to-fish’ pie (with tofu chunks!) baked and topped with mashed potato. I don’t use recipe books ever so can’t share any recipes, I just wing it and hope for the best. Plants always taste good, it’s just about getting the right combination.
Not everyone’s on board, and there’s even disagreement on some things within the vegan community. How do you deal with the haters?
You can never make everyone happy. It’s been a steep learning curve for me and I’ve had to grow a thick skin. That doesn’t mean it gets easier when people are unnecessarily rude but I have learned to expect it a little more now that our content reaches so many people. What I try to remember is that our intention always comes from a place of good. My team and I are doing this for the animals first and foremost and if the content we are creating promotes less animals being used as commodities, then we are being true to our values.
For some vegans, supporting Maple Leaf’s acquisition of Field Roast is a negative because it’s also supporting a meat company/capitalism. And I agree to an extent – companies like this in no way embody ethics. But again, if it means that less animals are being killed for food and we can make vegan options accessible and affordable then I’m all for it. Meat producers don’t kill animals because they love killing sentient beings. They do it because of their profit margin. If we can show that meat made from plant protein is not only more cost effective but in high demand then the prospect of a vegan future looks a lot more likely.
What do you say to those who make statements like: ‘All humans need to die to make this planet a better place?’
I don’t think that’s true. I guess sometimes I have been guilty of nihilistic thoughts on occasion but the beauty of doing what we do at LIVEKINDLY is that we see so much positivity in the world on a daily basis – to the point that we can barely keep up with the news!
There’s a lot of bad in this world caused by humans, but there’s also a lot of good happening. We’re just so disconnected from each other and our environment – and with so much fear mongering coming from the media every day, it’s clear to see why so many of us become so disillusioned by it all and stop caring. I believe that we’re all a bit lost at the moment and seeking deeper connection than what any social media platform is capable of.
What are some of the biggest challenges do you face as a vegan?
I find it really difficult to make food related decisions whenever I’m faced with more than one menu item now. If it’s vegan then I have to try it! So it’s always best to dine with friends so you can eat a little bit of everything, haha!
Aside from that, I guess my fear is living in a vegan bubble and being blinded by what is reality and what is just my perspective. It’s exciting to see all these new products coming to market but we can’t get swayed into thinking that our work is nearly done. Whenever I get on public transport here in Canada and see someone wearing Canada Goose or I dine next to someone eating meat, I’m reminded of that.
Any last words?
Do something nice for someone else today. It’ll make the world a better place, even just for a moment.
Jodi Monelle: My Favourite Recipes
As the editor of one of the biggest vegan mags around, Jodi sure knows vegan food! Here are a few recipes for the dishes she mentioned in our interview that you can try to make at home for yourself!
Lentil Chili With Rice
Paired with a steaming bowl of brown rice, lentil chili is a winter favourite for many. This classic vegan recipe comes with some black beans for added ‘meaty’ texture.
Get the recipe here.
Almost Beyond Burger
Jodi Monelle is a huge fan of the Beyond Burger – but what if you can’t find one where you live? This smoky BBQ black bean burger recipe from the Minimalist Baker is possibly the next best thing. Top it off with your favourite condiments.
Get the recipe here.
Whether it’s scooped on top of a plate of steamed veggies, blended into a pasta, or dabbed onto a sandwich, a good vegan pesto is a kitchen staple that will really up your cooking game!
Get the recipe here.
Tofu Fish Pie
As a Brit, Jodi misses the taste and texture of one of England’s staple dishes: the good old fashioned fish pie. But of course, as a vegan, she passes on the actual fishy part! Her boyfriend kindly makes her a vegan version, and though we don’t have his recipe, this one is pretty damn good, too.
Get the recipe here.
Violife Veggie Wontons
Some (including Jodi Monelle, of course!) say Violife makes the best cheese for vegans in the whole wide world. They also make a variety of vegan substitutes for animal products, and their website provides a bunch of great recipes to try, like these crunchy veggie wontons. Why not give them a try? They’re easier to make than you’d think!
Get the recipe here.
Photo credit 1: LIVEKINDLY Photo credit 2: Caseythecollegeceliac.blogspot.com Photo credit 3: Jodi Monelle