Meet the duo behind TeenVGN
I was lucky enough to meet the duo behind TeenVGN at VegFestUK (2014). It was inspiring to meet two determined, passionate, confident, compassionate and creative females who want to serve others, to quite literally; make the world a better place! I want others to know what they want to achieve and why so here's an article which will achieve just that!
How did you (Laura and Kylie) come up with the idea of creating TeenVGN?
I (Laura) have always wanted to work with young people, teenagers in particular. I studied sports development and education in college and university, and became a Youth Worker once I'd graduated, and Kylie worked for an animal rights charity. We soon came to realise that there were plenty of great, hard working campaigns groups for adults, but there was nothing for children and young people. We decided to put both of our expertise together to create TeenVGN in March 2013.
What is the aim of TeenVGN?
TeenVGN has been created as a social network for young vegetarians and vegans. A safe and secure support system and for them to come together to talk about their compassionate lifestyle and generate creative ideas to make the world a better place for the animals.
The short clip below was recorded at VegFest in Brighton in March 2015.
Can you list some of the things that TeenVGN do e.g. events that you organise, share, attend, information that you publish or share etc.
We are currently in the process of organising the UK's first ever vegan Summer Camp for teens! It's never been done before so we want to set it off with a blast! There'll be campaigns work shops, 100% vegan breakfast, lunch and dinner included, cookery classes and wildlife talks, activities and even a camp Hunger Games! Summer Camp is definitely the biggest project we have ever done, so it's really testing our strengths and we're overcoming some great challenges to make this experience a memorable one :) We're having so much fun finding an identity for TeenVGN right now.
Why are you both so passionate about it?
I think it's safe to say that both of us are passionate about it first and foremost because we want to try to make the world a better place for animals. We want to end animal suffering for good. We were born to use our expertise and training in the field of youth work and animal rights to make this happen! We both know too well that the only hope for this world is for our next generations to rise up and fight for the welfare and rights of animals. We are passionate about teaching, supporting and guiding them in the right direction so that when they are old enough or strong enough to influence the world, they'll be ready for it.
Are you both vegan? If so, is this in terms of diet or is it a lifestyle choice too?
Yes, we are both vegan. This is in terms of diet and lifestyle. From the food we eat, to the clothes we wear to the products we put into and onto our bodies. We strive to be the best we can be and to avoid animal suffering at all costs.
Why did you shift to a vegan diet?
We both shifted to a vegan diet initially as a challenge to ourselves. It continued beyond the time that we expected it to, and our compassion and knowledge of animal rights just grew bigger and stronger.
What have you noticed after shifting to a vegan diet?
Honestly, I (Laura) haven't noticed a significant difference in my health or skin etc. However, I do believe that going vegan has taught me compassion and kindness. And I think that's the biggest difference for me, an attitude adjustment.
Why did you decide to make veganism your lifestyle choice too?
I (Laura) actually went from eating meat straight to veganism. I had people around me who knew what they were talking about. For Kylie, I think, after learning more and more about animal rights and working for a campaigns group it was just an obvious next step.
What does TeenVGN sell and where are these items sourced from? Do you make them, are they donated or something else?
Everything we sell is either donated or handmade by friends and family. We have a great range of snacky food items from chocolate to health bars, from crisps to fruit packs. Our handmade items are jewellery, kitchen and house plaques with cute slogans and we also sell our own range of merchandise, organic, fair trade t shirts and vest tops with vegan ink.
How easy is it for you to source cruelty free ingredients for the products that you make?
It's fairly easy for us as we have most things donated. As for our merchandise, Kylie searched online and found Rapanui which is an ethical clothing company. We got out t shirts and vests printed with them.
Is TeenVGN owned by, or in partnership with, another company that tests on animals or sells non-vegan products?
TeenVGN is owned, solely, by myself and Kylie. We have some great sponsors (all vegan) who, without them, we aren't able to do what we do every day. We would never knowingly associate ourselves with a business or company that tests on animals or endorses animal cruelty in any way.
Tell me a bit about yourself before you launched TeenVGN?
As mentioned above, I (Laura) spent college and university studying to become a Sports Coach in the UK and also in North Carolina. I was always interested in Sports and being active until I became very ill and was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease, which put me out of work for a long time. It was then that I set up TeenVGN with the help of Kylie who was working for an animal rights group at the time.
What is your vision for the future TeenVGN?
Our short term vision (2015/2016) is to get our VGN Summer Camp up and running successfully. Long term, we would really love to have camps all over the UK, teaching young people about how they can be more effective for animal rights in their communities and in society in general. We'd love to have enough funding so that at least one of us can work for TeenVGN full time, as right now we both run TeenVGN voluntarily and have other full time jobs, so it can be tough to find time to keep up with everything. We'd love to be able to travel as to vegan events around the world and speak at vegan conferences. But unfortunately, it all costs and TeenVGN has and will always be free for our young Members. It's the support of adults and companies that we need to get bigger and become a stronger influence in the world.