I’ve had the pleasure of spending time with Melisser Elliott quite a bit over the past few years when she visited Chicago. Last time, we did a photoshoot for her article in Vegetarian Times, and also talked about plans for our upcoming books. It’s nearly a year later and in less than 2 weeks, we’re joining forces in NYC for a book signing at the newly-opened Champs Bakery in Brooklyn!
In fact, she has a whole US tour going on right now for her fabulous new book, The Vegan Girl’s Guide to Life! My copy arrived in Illinois last week and I’m anxiously awaiting my trip home in a few days when I’ll get to see it!
Melisser is a kickass vegan lady, my book label-mate, and a good friend, and I have for you guys an interview with her!
Vegan Girl’s Guide to Life is coming out in just a few short weeks! Yay! Where will it be available for sale?
The book is available at www.vegangirlsguide.com, as well as on my upcoming book tours! Of course, fine retailers such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other book shops will have it as well.
What can we expect to find inside?
I tried to touch on as much of veganism as possible, not only for people looking to go vegan, but for those of us who’ve been vegan for awhile and want a handy guide or a book to pass on to people curious about veganism. It has the who-what-where-when-why of veganism, lots of little tips to take the learning curve out of everything, interviews with vegan ladies and businesses from around the world, plus recipes and crafts!
Vegan Girl’s Guide to Life will be quite exciting and unique, with so much of your experiences to share as well as contributions from other people in the vegan community! What was your motivation to write it, and what was the process of making it happen?
I wanted to show people that veganism can be easy and it really is what’s best for the animals, environment, and your health. I started by outlining everything I could think of about veganism, then started to fill in the blanks. I asked others what their questions they had early on and what they wanted to know more about. I probably could have written a few more chapters, there’s so much to say!
How long have you been vegan and how has that decision impacted your life? What were you doing in your exploration of veganism and in your kitchen before you started The Urban Housewife and your book?
I’ve been vegan over 3 years now and I was vegetarian for 6 years. I’ve always been compassionate towards animals, hence going vegetarian, but I didn’t really know about veganism and the evils of the dairy and egg industry. Once I learned about it, I had to go vegan, and it’s now a huge part of my life. I’ve met wonderful people all over the world and have become active in the fight to save animals. Before I was vegan, I was working as a makeup artist for magazines, but not really doing anything for others. I actually started The Urban Housewife right before I went vegan to blog about all the baking I was enjoying, I never knew it would evolve in to veganism, tons of new friends, and a book deal!
Traveling is obviously a huge part of your life. Is this something you always wanted, or expected to be doing? What has been rewarding about visiting places all over the world?
My family never travels, yet I always found myself wanting to see new things. As soon as I had my own money, I started to check out new cities, but I didn’t expect to be regularly traveling the world. It’s something I’m really passionate about and I’m so fortunate to have experienced other cultures, amazing food, and a lot of fun. I basically spend every spare penny on going somewhere and have managed to travel very inexpensively!
What are your favorite cities to visit? Where are your favorite vegan eats? Where have you NOT been that you would love to visit, and why?
I have a tattoo devoted to my favorite cities, so I’ll start with the ones on my arm; San Francisco, NYC, Berlin, London, Tokyo / Kyoto, Stockholm, and Vienna. I also like the food in Portland, Austin, Chicago, and Los Angeles! There are SO many places I want to go! In the US; Denver, Atlanta, Omaha, Asheville, Minneapolis, Nashville- if it has good vegan food, I want to go there! I’m excited to check out Philly, DC, and Boston for the 1st time on my tour. I’d really like to go to Canada finally! I plan to travel all over Europe now that I live in Vienna. I’m also hoping to see India, Thailand, and China someday, and I wish Australia and New Zealand were closer to me.
How are your vegan adventures and your awesome trips correlated? Tell me about your upcoming book tours and how they came about!
It may sound silly, but I plan trips around awesome food. If I hear about some fun new vegan dining option, I want to go! As for the book tour, I was asked to speak at Northeast Florida Veg Fest and agreed to before I moved overseas. Once I had moved, I decided if I was going to fly across the world, I should make it worthwhile, so the book tour plan was hatched. It’s gotten crazier than intended with dates being added as recently as last week. I’m only home 6 days in November, due to all the travel, plus I’m hitting a few spots in Europe the 1st week of December. Here are my book tour dates:
November 6th Jacksonville, FL Northeast Florida VegFest, talk at 1:30pm, signing to follow November 7th Washington DC at Cafe Green, 4pm to 6pm
November 10th Philadelphia, PA at Grindcore House, 6pm to 8pm
November 12th Manhattan, NY at MooShoes, 7pm to 9pm
November 16th Syracuse, NY at Strong Hearts Cafe, 7pm to 9pm
November 17th Boston, MA at Peace O’ Pie, 7pm to 9pm
November 20th Brooklyn, NY at Champs Bakery, 7pm to 9pm
November 21st Montclair, NJ at Go Lightly Eco Store 1pm to 3pm
November 28th Paris, FR at Paris Vegan Day, book signing and talk
November 30th Manchester, UK at The Thirsty Scholar, 6pm to 8pm
December 2nd Brighton, UK TBA
December 4th London, UK at Vx, book signing and talk 2pm to 6pm – 5% off all Vx purchases at the event!
December 5th London, UK at the Animal Aid Christmas Fayre, talk at 3:15pm, signing to follow
Tell the story of how you got Strummer! Is she going to be joining you on the book tours?
The story of Strummer is a pretty crazy one! On the day before Fathers Day in 2008, we were taking a walk to our co-op, partaking in our usual routine of fawning over every dog we see. As we approached two men and a tiny chihuahua, I couldn’t help but comment on how adorable their puppy was. Next thing I know, I am being told to take the dog, as they didn’t want it and claimed to have found it on the sidewalk. Totally shocked, we walked away with a shivering, flea ridden, hungry 1.5 lb puppy. We spent weeks looking for lost dog signs and posting ads online, but no one claimed her and we already had her shots and she had started puppy classes, and so the era of Strummer began! As for the book tour, I wish Strummer was coming with me, but the road is not the place for a 2lb chihuahua who hates cars, buses, and planes!
Tell me about your other endeavors: The Urban Housewife blog, Sugar Beat Sweets, and Cruelty Free Face!
My brain doesn’t shut off, so I have a million projects. My longest running one is The Urban Housewife, my blog about my daily life with a focus on vegan travel. Sugar Beat Sweets is a vegan bakery I started in San Francisco in 2007 and has now grown to a 5 vegan lady collectively run bakery, with a storefront opening early next year! Cruelty Free Face is my site for all things vegan beauty. I was a makeup artist for 10 years and wanted to use that knowledge to teach people basic makeup skills and also where they can find cruelty free cosmetics.
What’s next? Do you have ideas for new projects lined up, or what do you hope to accomplish in the future?
Sleeping! hahaha. You know, I always have something up my sleeve. I have a few book ideas, I’m always looking for new ways to spread compassion for animals and get people involved in activism. I’m sure you’ll see me with a crazy new project soon!