NQ London talk vegan with Felix Dickinson

NQ London talk vegan with Felix DickinsonFelix is a photographic artist working closely within reportage and fine art voyeurism. Along with a selection of published work across various media platforms, he has published two books, Scriptures I and Scriptures II. The latter of which is in collaboration with the celebrated New York perfumer, Le Labo.'Felix has accompanied many high profile individuals, covering their lives on a very personal level. He recently spent time with RZA from Wu Tang Clan and they discussed veganism in Hip Hop.Felix himself became a vegan five years ago. Prior to this he was a vegetarian for ten years. He allowed us a little insight into his views and helped us clear up some common myths associated with the culture, along with some very interesting facts.NQ London talk vegan with Felix DickinsonHow long have you been a vegan. What brought about/influenced this change in your lifestyle?I have been vegan for 5 years, and vegetarian 10 years prior to that, which is pushing close to half of my life at this point. I grew up in the punk rock scene, where veganism, vegetarianism and an abstinence from drinking and drugs is prominent. It gave me purpose, control and an understanding of discipline which have proven vital throughout the journey so far. What does being vegan mean to you?Veganism to me has always been about community, education, understanding, inspiration and of course an extended love and respect for every living being we share this earth with. At its core, Veganism exists as a philosophy focused solely on abolishing the enslavement of animals for the sake of human greed and excess. A lot of people with little or no knowledge of a vegan diet often associate it with a “weak diet” in terms of nutrition. What would you say to educate people that a plant based diet can provide everything to be strong?This is a common theme, absolutely. It has stemmed from the post WW2 marketing push to get the West back into a purchasing pattern. Meat and Dairy producers were and still are heavily subsidised by their governments as well as being given ridiculously questionable marketing guidelines to push their products upon a blissfully unassuming population.We grow up being led to believe that meat protein is essential, which is entirely false and more so, lately, has been shown to cause more damage to the body than good.But without wishing to open the proverbial can of worms, the easiest way to look at it is to understand that a diet rich in plant based, whole foods, continues to show exceptional results year in and year out. The majority of the strongest, and largest animals on planet earth all thrive on a vegan diet, from the bull, the gorilla, the elephant and many, many more. There's simply no grounds for a weak diet argument with a modern day understanding of nutrition Why do you think many believe only meat can offer strength for those training for events such as iron man, ultra-marathons, bodybuilding and so forth?I think this mind-set is an extension of the prior question. It is a total misconception and one that is becoming more and more obsolete due to the growing number of vegan athletes destroying world records across the platforms you have listed as well as countless body building, weight lifting and body strength competitions. Look at Rich Roll, John Joseph, Tim Shieff, Jon Venus, Patrik Baboumian to name a few and you'll begin to understand the farce of the myth. Do you have views on zoos and animals in captivity, whether it is for protecting the breed of a species or otherwise?Absolutely. As a general rule I don't agree with zoos or animal captivity by any means. Certain institutions are passable in that their operations exist solely for the sake of protection or better yet species development, but a run of the mill zoo or aquarium that's purpose serves only the interests of humans looking for a basis of entertainment at the expense of an animal's life is not acceptable by any means. Do you influence your meat eating friends to make a change to veganism?Only through leading by example and making sure people are aware of the ins and outs of what the lifestyle consists of. It's never preached, nor spoken of when uncalled for, but should someone wish to know, I will always take time to talk, and I also tend to share positive stories of huge movements within the culture, too. Do you believe there is cruelty associated with leather products? Undoubtedly. Leather is a by-product of the meat industry, therefore you are directly funding the torture, mistreatment and untimely, non consented death of an animal through choosing to purchase and wear it. Do you have an opinion on taking wool from sheep?For the most part, wool is not without suffering, either. Due to the level of excess regarding production, many sheep are put through intensely unpleasant experiences whilst having their coats sheered. The loss of huge chunks of skin, having to deal with rashes, sores, cuts and bruises whilst being thrown back out into the cold without a natural means of insulation is far from a pleasant experience for any living being. Is testing on animals acceptable for medical research purposes? If not what do you think is an alternative?No, not at all. We have advanced medicine far enough to be able to perform controlled research on willing humans and anything cosmetic can also be tested on humans, too. If it's cause for concern enough to want to try it on an animal first, then it probably isn't something you should be putting in you or on you once finished.There are hundreds of excellent cosmetic companies that actively don't test on animals who produce remarkable and award winning products. There is no excuse for such practices anymore. What would you say to someone who says “plants have feeling too?”I, like any other level headed human would explain that this is a non sensical debate for two reasons, one, being that a plant does not have a central nervous system, nor a brain to process the notion of pain in the way a human or animal does and secondly, counteracting the torturous life of an agricultural animal with a baseless statement suggesting that a plant exists in the same realm merely gives perspective on how absurdly disconnected from. As someone who has limited knowledge of vegan principles and beliefs, can I ask are there levels of being a vegan, in terms of how strict you are about your choices of food and animal products.I don't personally believe there to be levels, no. It is a fairly simple lifestyle. You avoid eating and wearing all animal products. That's the be all and end all. If that isn't your focus, then you're not a vegan. It isn't simply a diet based term, it is a lifestyle choice that incorporates numerous aspects. Plant Based is a great term to use for those who still wish to engage in the wearing of animal skin and other such practices. What is the most stupid question you have been asked about being a vegan? Where do you get your protein? Don't plants have feelings too? Surely if we stopped eating all the animals they would overpopulate the planet. Cows need to be milked. Bacon though. The list is endless. Are you single? If so would you date a non-vegan and if you are in a relationship is your partner a vegan?Personally I wouldn't date a non-vegan, for a number of reasons, but namely based on the importance of basic connection. It is a meditation of mine that plays a major role in my life and I feel I cannot truly connect on an emotionally romantic level with someone that condones that which I oppose. Are there any high profile celebrities that have influenced your choice to be a vegan or that you admire for being a vegan?Not so much influenced, no, but there are some amazing humans in the public eye that have gone out of their way to speak out for the culture. I just sat down with RZA from Wu Tang Clan to talk veganism is Hip-Hop which will be published this month. That's a hugely popular and positive avenue within that movementNQ London talk vegan with Felix DickinsonThe full article with RZA from Wu Tang Clan will be published in Brick Magazine : www.brickthemagazine.comNQ London talk vegan with Felix Dickinson All photo credits and copyrights: Felix  Felix’s work can be found at www.felix-aaa.com Find Felix Instagram : felix.aaa