Shopping is a Driving Force for Change: Q+A with Five Vegans

Perth in Western Australia is the world’s most isolated capital city yet Five Vegans is thriving. This 100% vegan and online vegan eco shop is shipping their wares throughout Australia and beyond, while bringing Perth-based vegan makers to the masses. Vegans are well looked after by Five Vegans, an online space where they can purchase meals, sweet treats, toiletries and travel essentials to name a few.

Sam and Craig were keen to chat about their online adventure, and how their work is also making a difference in the lives of human and non-human beings. Plus, they share their hot tips for vegan travellers who want to visit Perth.

Sam and Craig, how long have you been vegan for? What made you decide to go vegan?

“Our family went vegan almost five years ago. We were both long term vegetarians before going vegan.  We watched the documentary What the Health and switched from vegetarian to vegan overnight. That documentary was a game changer. Also around that time we watched a James Aspey speech called “This is your wakeup call”. We had no idea about the cruel dairy industry.”

Craig, you suffer from Ankylosing Spondylitis which is an auto-immune arthritis disease. How has veganism helped you manage your auto-immune disease?

“The vegan diet or more specifically a whole foods plant-based diet has helped significantly with managing the disease.  Not consuming animal products and minimising processed products significantly reduces the level of inflammation in the body and hence the pain you feel.  The diet gives you more energy which makes it easier to exercise which then further reduces inflammation.  I now take non-consistent medication for the arthritis and only pain killers occasionally when required.”

Sam, you were the founder of Five Vegans, 100% vegan and eco-friendly online shop. Plus you’re mum to three kids. Why did you decide to start Five Vegans?

“When I first went vegan I really struggled to work out what was vegan and missed certain foods; I was looking for alternatives. I wanted to be able to help others on their vegan journey and offer alternatives to foods people used to love. Discovering the Vego Bar was such an iconic moment when I first went vegan and since then, vegan food options have exploded. This is great for change. Craig and I also really wanted to be able to give back to animal charities. This was a big driving force with our business as well. Through the sale of our mystery box we donate the profits to a different animal charity each month. As time goes on we would like to donate more money to these worthwhile charities.”

Online shopping for goods is highly popular, especially during the COVID pandemic. Why is online shopping so important for vegans, particularly during these times?

“When you shop online from a fully vegan store you are guaranteed that what you are receiving will have no animal products in it and would not have been tested on animals.  When you shop online you also don’t have to wade your way through all the non-vegan products to find what you are after.  Most stores don’t have a fully dedicated vegan section so the products are spread throughout the store and you have to go searching for them.”

What do your customers mostly buy? Is there a particular line of products or brand that vegans are keen to buy?

“It changes all the time but consistently vegan chocolate, the Candy Queens lollies, fudge and the Turban Chopsticks range.  It really does change, though, as we are constantly adding new products to our range.”

Five Vegans also sells eco-friendly products that help the environment and wildlife. Why is this important to you?

“The driving force behind our business is to help end the exploitation and harm of animals.  Although there is a lot of direct harm done to animals through animal agriculture there is also harm done from non-eco-friendly items. For example, a lot of disposable plastic items will end up the environment where they can hurt or kill animals.  We sell reusable and biodegradable versions of these products to help solve this.”

As you previously mentioned, Five Vegans sells an Aussie Mystery Box and $10 from every sale is donated to an animal charity or sanctuary. What can customers expect in the box when they buy one? Who have you managed to donate to so far?

“The contents of the box change every month but you can expect about five or six vegan options in each box. We always include a couple of meal options such as a mac and cheese or something to create an easy meal with as well as a couple of sweet treats. The mystery boxes are often given as gifts and are a great way to try out vegan products you might not have tried before. We have donated to 16 different Australian animal charities since we launched the box in November 2020.”

Five Vegans is based in Perth, Western Australia. Perth is the world’s most isolated city. Where are most of your customers located? Does your location affect your ability to stock certain products?

Our customers are located all over Australia. We attend markets when we can in Perth so we are able to meet customers in person which is great as well. We have not had our location affect our ability to source stock at all.”

I lived in Perth during my childhood back in the 1980’s and early 1990’s. Back then, there was no such thing as veganism. How has the vegan scene in Perth grown over the years?

Sam: “There has been a big growth in veganism in probably the last two or three years. I went vegetarian when I was a child in the 80’s and back then being vegetarian was almost unheard of never mind veganism. Slowly, new vegan options and vegan restaurants have popped up. Now, when you mention you are a vegan, it is a lot more understood. I remember as a vegetarian people always asked me did I eat chicken or fish. We have come a long way since those days. It is an exciting time to be a vegan.”

Are there a lot of vegan producers based in Perth and Western Australia? What are some of your favourite local vegan makers?

“We always try and stock as many Australian products as we can and love supporting Perth businesses. Turban chopsticks curry range and curries are made in W.A. They are absolutely delicious and so easy to make. We also stock the La Enviro vegan belts, wallets, watches and handbags. They are a Perth-based business. We have plans to add more Perth-based vegan makers to our range in the future.”

Has Five Vegans managed to convert someone to veganism? If so, what is one success story that stands out for you?

Sam: “Yes! My mum. My mum went vegan close to her 70th birthday. She was inspired by Craig’s and my improvement in health. My mum says she feels great since going vegan and is in great health.”

If anyone wants to travel to Perth, what are some of the best places or spots to try the local vegan food? Do you have any favourite haunts? Also, are there any vegan-friendly experiences you can recommend in Perth or regionally?

“Our favourite places to eat out are Sunflower Café which is pay what you can afford. Lord of the Fries is good for a vegan junk food fix. There is also a great restaurant called Little Bean Gourmet, The Leaf which is Indian food and Vego Delish. The Noble is great for more formal dining. More are popping up all the time so lots of places to explore. For vegan experiences there are animal sanctuary tours with Possum Valley which also offers a goat yoga experience. Greener Pastures offers sanctuary tours. Better Life Animal Sanctuary offers tours and has accommodation to stay at. We stayed at Better Life and it was such an amazing experience. We have done tours at Possum Valley and Greener pastures and they are run by such fantastic and hardworking people.”

Finally, what does a vegan future look like for you?

“We like to imagine a future where animals are no longer exploited for the food we eat and products we use.  We would love for everyone to go vegan because they come to understand how unethical it is to use animals for these purposes.  We think a lot of people will come to this conclusion but not everyone.  Thankfully, however, I think lab meat and dairy will help solve this.  For people that won’t give up meat and dairy it will at least be able be produced without harming animals.  In the future, plant-based products will be the norm and it will be super easy to get a vegan version of any product you are after.  The world transferring to plant-based food system is an essential component of combating climate change, world hunger and species eradication.  We don’t think the planet will survive without this change.”

Check out Five Vegans today. If you place an order, there is a flat rate shipping of AUD$9.95 Australia wide and free postage for orders over AUD$100.

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