Vegan Good Life: An Interview with Co-Founder Eric Mirbach

These days you can’t throw a rock without hitting a vegan bakery, restaurant, or grocer. Veganism is the new buzzword, the hottest kid on the block. Search #vegan on Instagram and you’ll find beautifully staged smoothie bowls, mouth watering tacos, and of course bountiful mountains of veggies. Sure, it makes for a stellar Insta-feed, but is anyone really paying much attention to what it’s all really about? Being vegan goes so far beyond how many dishes you can secretly sneak kale into; in fact, eating Vegan only scratches the surface.

Now, I feel I must preface this with the following: I am merely an outsider looking in to a new world I know not one thing about. I am unapologetically guilty of staging beautiful food photos and reminding my followers my meal was #vegan. But after a while, this started to feel a little weird and a lotta fake. I decided I’d try being Vegan during the day, for superficial reasons like hopeful weight-loss and better skin. It has worked out pretty well, but I can’t seem to give up my afternoon Greek-yogurts no matter how hard I try (and I’m not certain I’m ready to break up with cheese yet). Still, I’m only dealing with surface-level here and I wanted to get a little deeper.

What does it really mean to be Vegan?  Beyond the dinner plate Vegan. Beyond the trendy bakery Vegan. I needed to know what else I was missing, so I turned to my friend Eric Mirbach, Art Director and Co-Editor-In-Chief of Vegan Good Life Magazine for the real-deal insight into this ethically beautiful lifestyle.

PDL: I’ll start with the obligatory question that I really can’t get away with not asking: How long have you been living a vegan lifestyle and what was your biggest attraction to it?

ERIC: That one is tough to answer as for me, it was a slow process. I decided to go vegetarian at the age of 18 but it took me another 12 years to go vegan. I skipped milk somewhere along the way, then other animal-derived products followed, cheese was a toughie for a while. To really get into the whole lifestyle aspect of it all, questioning clothing, shoes, furniture, the things I buy and the way I travel – that’s endgame and only developed over the last couple of years for me.

My biggest attraction was that I wanted be able to keep looking at myself in the mirror. For me, when I start thinking about something – habits I have, things I do – and I start questioning them, do my research and at the end, when I don’t have valid arguments to explain my ways, I would loose all self-respect if I didn’t do my best to adjust accordingly. Veganism is exactly that. I also think it’s a very masculine feature and I feel drawn to that idea of “trying to be the best version of yourself”. I think it speaks volumes if you’re man enough to go against the current and accept full responsibility for your actions. I strive to be an ethical, proud, strong member of society, it is my wish to always find the courage to stand strong for what I believe in. I want to do my part. Adopting a vegan diet is a no-brainer when you look at it like that.

What was the most difficult part about becoming vegan? Or did it flow pretty naturally for you?

The most difficult part is not losing yourself in the process. Once you open up to the ethical side of it, once you really try to understand what’s going on and emotionally connect, it can be hard to not go berserk over it. The diet is no problem if you do it right, eating good and healthy is a definite plus in daily life and it’s very rewarding by itself. For me, the problem lies in accepting that you discovered something that is going horribly wrong – and then having to struggle with the fact that most people are not willing to talk or think about it, at least not yet. I understand why a lot of ethical vegans come across as angry. Because they are, and rightfully so, just maybe aimed at the wrong crowd sometimes. I ate meat the first 18 years of my life, who am I to judge? But it’s hard sometimes to develop a positive approach from such a negative thing. I think I succeeded with Vegan Good Life, though. It’s my very personal positive approach to triggering change.

What inspired you to create Vegan Good Life?

We started with the perception of veganism. Unless you’re in one of the world’s Western capitals (LA, NY, Berlin), veganism has an image problem. To most people, the word sounds like dreadlocks and handknitted pullovers, it smells like patchouli. It still has the air of a club of outsiders you don’t want to be a part of. You don’t want to sit at the nerd table. It’s not desirable, it’s not shiny or sought-after. You don’t want to join the club. We wanted to chip in and help giving it a nudge. We wanted to create something that breaks with that old perception, give veganism a new, shiny exterior. We’re not alone in this, we already knew of a couple of influencers and fashion brands, blogs and like-minded people with the same approach. So we sat down and thought hard about what it is we could bring to the table. And with the backgrounds of both Julia, my partner, and me, making a high quality print publication was the closest, most logical thing.

Are you working on this alone or do you have a partner/team that equally contributes?

I started this whole thing with my partner Julia, she’s 50% of Vegan Good Life and 50% of everything else. She’s my business partner, my fiancèe and my best friend. We just click, we run like clockwork. It’s amazing. She went to Milan very young to model, didn’t like the job one bit, quit and moved back to Germany to major agricultural science. Today she’s a writer for German fashion blog This is Jane Wayne (a Vogue partner) and covers sustainability and slow living for them. She has a couple of other writing gigs as well and then obviously she holds everything together when it comes to Vegan Good Life. She’s got full control of the business side of things.

How do you choose the content you’d like to feature? Where are you looking for inspiration?

We look for the best, high quality product and for interesting stories about inspiring personalities. Everything obviously has to be linked to veganism, but it’s always inspiration first – we’re all about the good life 🙂 – fashion, travel, art & design. Always high quality, always forward thinking, always one step ahead.

@vegangoodlife on Instagram

You mentioned that VGL puts very little emphasis on food, and focuses more on fashion, art, design, travel, etc. I love that! What made it important to you to put the spotlight on these areas of veganism?

Thank you, great to hear that. It’s still pretty difficult sometimes to explain that, it seems to be hard to grasp for whatever reason. When we started this, we thought that all those vegan chefs and bloggers out there have the food sector pretty much covered – it’s in good hands. We bring different things to the table. I love to cook, good and healthy food plays a big role in both our lifes, but that doesn’t mean that cooking or food photography or creating recipes is what we excel in. This whole thing still has an activism-aspect to it – if you want to change things, you better bring your a-game. So we just decided do concentrate on we do best.

I see you have Steve-O featured on the cover of issue 03 – what was it like chatting with him and how did you get him to be a part of VGL? 

It was weird, I remember how influenced we were back in the day by the early Big Brother and CKY videos – to chat to Steve-O and in the context of veganism at that, pretty outlandish and awesome. He both fits perfectly and then doesn’t fit AT ALL to what Vegan Good Life is, both at the same time, so that was really fun.

Any other celebs or people of note that you’re excited to work with?

We tried Miley Cyrus but were shot down. Her schedule is too packed to talk to us 🙂

What’s your favorite issue thus far?

The newest issue always is the best issue. Issue 04 {was released} mid-December and it turned out so good!

What is your hope for the future of the magazine?

We just want to keep making it. I don’t necessarily think it has to become a huge financial success. I don’t necessarily think we have to sell it on every newsstand around the globe. I don’t think we necessarily need to publish more than one issue a year. It’s all about putting out something of quality, being persistent and just keep delivering proof that veganism can be indeed very cool, “out there” and “a club you want to join”. A magazine like Vegan Good Life, it’s just necessary it exists.

To learn more or pick up a copy of Issue 04 now, check the link below:

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