A Q&A With The Biggest Vegan of Instagram
The Vegans of IG
Instagram is a little bit of a food graveyard. It's a regular butt of hipster jokes and home to what might be one of the largest collections of badly-shot food porn in the world, but between the pictures of badly cropped plates and random sunsets, there are a few niche communities.
The fashionable show off their outfits of the day (#ootd), the fit share their exercise tips, and the vegans, well, the vegans share information, shoot food porn, and plan real life meet-ups.
Between fur protests in Los Angeles and social meet-ups in vegan (and veg-friendly) eateries, @VegansofIG account creator Amy Rebecca, the biggest vegan on Instagram, has been busy since April of 2012.
We talked with Amy about the creation and maintenance of this unique community of nearly 40,000 followers.
OC Weekly: When did you first get the idea to create a Vegans of Instagram account? Were you on Instagram before you created that account?
Amy Rebecca: I had my personal Instagram account @labellenuage and one for my organization @FurFreeLA before I started @VegansofIG. The Instagram (and vegan) community was a lot smaller prior to the Facebook acquisition and expansion to Android. I noticed there were quite a few vegans using the #vegan and #animalrights tag, but they were all over the place, so I made the @VegansofIG account in effort to bring the vegan Instagram community together. I also wanted a hashtag that only vegans knew about. I was tired of bullies using the #vegan and #peta tag on pictures of meat. So I created the #VegansofIG tag as a safe hashtag to scroll through. Vegans of Instagram started out as a place for vegans by vegans, but the account grew, so did the questions from newbie vegans and veg-curious Instagramers. That's when I began making educational and advice posts. I've talked about everything from how to respond to disapproving omnivores to vegan iron sources. I had no idea the account and the #VegansofIG tag would take off, so it was a huge surprise when it did.
OCW: What's special about Instagram that makes it accessible for veg or veg-curious people?
AR: Instagram supports communities better than any other social network. It's very intimate, yet you still have some control over what you want to share. Plus it's easy to find new vegans through hashtags or friends' accounts. I'd say the majority of friends I've met after college have been from Instagram. I may have more of an advantage since I travel and host vegan meet-ups, but there are Instagramers all over the world that I talk to everyday, and it's pretty amazing that a little app can bring so many people together. When you do meet a fellow vegan that you bond with, it's a much deeper bond than any other friendship. One of my best friends is an omnivore, so it's awkward when she shows off her new leather shoes and asks me what I think. There will always be a slight divide because of our lifestyles. When you connect with a vegan who totally gets you, it's like "Where have you been all my life!"
OCW: You've done lots of educational posts, where you talk about animal rights issues, cruelty-free products, etc. How much time do you usually put into each post? Crafting the image, writing the post, etc.
AR: It really depends on the post. When I first started I would make collages in an iPhone app, but as the account started to grow, I switched over to photoshop for more creative control. When I make an infographic like the images in the "Animal Ingredients Series," each post can take 5-10 hours in Photoshop. People don't read, so I have to craft each post with the idea that everything I need to say is in the image. Then I have to write the caption. That can be quite tricky because Instagram has a character limit, so I end up having to cut back a lot. When I repost onto Facebook and Tumblr I can squeeze in what I had to leave out, but the one thing I've learned with microblogging is less is more.