We first met Diana Edelman while living in Chiang Mai, Thailand working to help protect Asian elephants by educating people on the atrocities behind the scenes of elephant tourism. We quickly became friends as we navigated our way to veganism and a more cruelty-free lifestyle. Now that we are stateside again we have maintained our friendship through our shared goal of helping people see that living vegan is attainable, becoming easier every day and is the best way to help animals.
Tell us about yourself. Where are you from? What are your passions in life?
I’m originally from Maryland — just outside of DC. But, Vegas has been my home for the better part of the last decade. My passions in life are writing, photography and being an advocate for animals.
What led to you going vegan?
I spent a couple of years in Chiang Mai, Thailand working for an elephant sanctuary. Many of my friends in Thailand were vegan, but it took me a little longer to make the connection. Ultimately, working in animals rights was heartbreaking for me and when I left Thailand and eventually headed back to the States, I wanted to go vegan. It was my friends, the things I saw in Thailand and the things I learned as my friends around me went vegan that lead me to go vegan.
When did you start Vegans, Baby? What made you start it?
I launched Vegans, Baby officially in May 2016. I started it because for the few years I gave up meat, I never was able to give up dairy — I always said “I could never give up …” or “It’s too hard to …” but I knew going back to the States I wanted to continue to be an advocate for the animals, but not work in animal rights. I also wanted to write. Before I moved back to Vegas, I did a little research to see how many vegan options there were in Vegas and it didn’t look like a lot according to the Internet. So, I set out to document my journey and highlight restaurants that offered vegan options. I wanted to show people that had the same road blocks I did that if I could do it, they could, too. And that being vegan wasn’t as hard as I made it out to be. In fact, it’s delicious and fun and approachable … and if I can be vegan, so can you.
How available would you say vegan options where when you first started Vegans, Baby? How about now?
We had a handful of all-vegan restaurants when I launched Vegans, Baby. Now we have more than 20 and I’ve worked with tons of restaurants to launch vegan menus, and even more have started to offer them.
What is your favorite part of working with Vegans, Baby?
My favorite part is the people I meet. I get messages all of the time from people who said that the site or my work has helped them go vegan or introduced them to vegan options in town and that they now see how easy it is in Vegas to eat vegan.
What was your biggest obstacle with Vegans, Baby and how did you overcome it?
My biggest obstacle was simply coming up with content. So, I spent two years working to fund my dining out and writing about it. Now, my biggest obstacle is being able to do it full-time and turn it into a business so I can dedicate all of my time to it … and grow it to other cities.
What animal rights protests or demonstrations have you participated in? Is animal rights activism a part of Vegans, Baby? If so, how?
I don’t go to them. Working in animal rights in Thailand broke my heart and put me in a really bad place. I’m much stronger when I’m doing what I do and making change with positive messaging and in a strong mental state. I support organizations privately, but leave the protests to others. My activism and work in animal rights is by making veganism approachable, fun and tasty.
What do you think the biggest roadblock is in getting people to go vegan? What can we do about this?
I think there are a few roadblocks. One is the concept of vegans being vigilantes, aggressive and judgmental. Another is the in-fighting within the vegan community. The more people debate how “vegan” a product is, the more we make being vegan unattainable for those who are interested in making the change. I think it’s important to see the forest through the trees and understand that it is a journey, people do the best they can, and at the end of the day, every meal, every decision that spares an animal, makes a difference.
What can people do to improve vegan options in their neck of the woods?
Start conversations! If a restaurant you go to doesn’t have a lot of options, talk to the manager kindly and mention that vegan food is one of the fastest growing culinary trends in the world and they would benefit from offering more options. Then, bring in friends to the places that offer options and encourage even more options. The more vegans support the restaurants and have positive dialog, the more change can happen.
Where do you see the future of Vegans, Baby? What’s next?
So many things! I am expanding the content on the site to make it more global and have guides to cities around the world. I’ve also set my sights on a couple of cities to visit and work with them the same way I’ve done in Las Vegas to help expand their options, get them media coverage and make them more vegan-friendly. That’s just the start. There are a lot more things cooking and there will be news coming out in the next few months about how Vegans, Baby is growing!
What is your favorite vegan restaurant in Las Vegas? Why is it your favorite?
VegeNation. They are constantly updating their menu, offering specials and getting creative with their eats. Plus, they align with what I do — show the fun, tasty and approachable side of veganism … and they add a little side of political and social/conscious activism, too.
What do you think makes a meal great? What are your criteria for that perfect meal?
Flavor!! And creativity. I look for dishes that are unique, healthy and whole plant-based.
What do you recommend that people do or see when they visit Las Vegas?
What should everyone know about Las Vegas?
It’s really vegan-friendly! And, there is so much more than just The Strip. You don’t need to gamble to have a good time — Vegas has gorgeous outdoor areas, amazing vegan dining and a local community that is vegan and passionate.