The reason I created Viappi, was because I wanted to make veganism easier to achieve and more accessible to everyone. But first let me give you a little background on how it all began. Back in June 2015, it started off as a bit of a joke but becoming vegan seriously changed my life!
I’d been brainstorming with my radio producer about what we should discuss on the
daily show that week, and she mentioned that Beyoncé had trailed on Good Morning
America that she had a very special announcement to make, which of course sent
the bee hive into buzzing overdrive. One person tweeted: “What is it? A new album?
Are you pregnant? A Destiny's Child reunion?!” - Someone else wrote: “Queen, I
can’t wait anymore.”
Turned out it was about none of those things, far from it.
The big announcement to the world was that she had ….. *drum roll* GONE ON A VEGAN DIET to get into shape and feel better about herself.
The bee hive were seriously unimpressed at what they considered to be a massive anti-climax. Even more so when it seemed that she had used the announcement to promote her partnership in vegan delivery company 22 Days Nutrition too! After my producer and I laughed and laughed at the bee hive’s reaction we began to think about the challenge.
The idea was to follow a plant based diet for 21 days, (psychologists say it takes three weeks to make or break a habit) and then on the 22 nd day a revolution would have taken place in your body and mind. Come on, how hard can this be, right? Challenge accepted, my producer and I were in, and we were to keep the listeners up to date with how it went.
I ordered The 22 Day Revolution book and set out my intentions but here was the thing: I wasn’t convinced that I could follow the daily diet guide in the book. You see although some of the recipes looked really tasty, totting up the shopping and prep time, I knew I wasn’t going to be merrily creating walnut tacos for long.
And that’s when my obsession with vegetarian and vegan restaurants in my then home town of London began (veggie because they far outnumbered vegan eateries and of course offered a multitude of vegan options.) Surely, I could also then pick up some delicious meal ideas to occasionally cook at home too, time permitting. My mission was all about finding a tasty equivalent to what I’d eaten as a meat and dairy eater, only totally vegan.
Establishments that just weren’t on my radar before became my new hang out spots and every new discovery was a revelation.
I was thrilled to learn that if I went to “222 Veggie Vegan” in Fulham I could get the
most amazing dairy free dessert and custard. If I went to “Cook Daily” in the box
Park, east London, I’d get the equivalent to seasoned chicken and rice, or at VX in
King Cross a vegan kebab.
Admittedly, I wasn’t really too arsed about doing it the mega healthy way, after all it was just a 22 days challenge right? I really just wanted to float through the 21-day trial as comfortably as possible, without failing.
Of course, I couldn’t eat out every night so what I wanted to do, in addition, was to put together meals that resembled traditional dishes I’d grown up with and feared I’d lose on the vegan train. Things like spag bol, cottage pie, creamy curries and tasty desserts. That craving for comfort food was really my inspiration to create my very first app, Viappi. A restaurant guide and recipe database which aims to help people like me who are looking to make the transition to becoming vegan.
Just before I gloss over the part where the three-week trial turned into three years, don’t let me forget to give some serious props to one man who left an everlasting mark on me during those seminal 21 days. Grime MC from Boy Better Know and brother of Skepta, JME. We’d run into each other a week or so prior to my vegan radio trial backstage at a festival down in Brighton called Wildlife put on by Disclosure and Rudimental at the Airport. All I remember about our encounter was getting into a chat with him about the terrible practices of the dairy industry and the horrific fate of the dairy cow. I walked away bemused. Why did this grime MC care so much about animal welfare?
Soon after, I invited him on my show where he waxed lyrical about his passion for veganism and how it was easier to achieve then you think. He brought with him vegan chocolate, some Oreos which he proudly proclaimed were vegan, BBQ Pringles and a vegan kebab from the aforementioned VX.
I was amazed. He wasn’t the white, middle-class vegan who’d perhaps grown up
veggie and eating quinoa. He was from a working-class background like me and was
showing me how effortlessly it could all be done and with no rabbit food on the
menu. He also gave me the heads up on some videos about factory farming, namely
one on YouTube by a radical vegan talking to a group of American college kids
about the torture animals face.
I went home and watched it the morning before I travelled to Glastonbury festival with my friend Zara, and I vowed that day that I would never touch meat or dairy again. She even turned veggie for a month after seeing the film with me; I mean it’s a deep watch.
So, fast forward to January 2018 and after a journey of vegan discovery and, keen to
open as many eyes as possible to veganism, I launched Viappi, my first vegan app
onto the Apple store.
I remember how tricky I’d found bouncing around looking for vegan meals so I wanted to create a solution that people could carry around with them at all times, whether they wanted to eat out or cook something themselves at home.
At the start of 2019 I decided to combine my love of communicating as a broadcaster with living as a vegan and launched a podcast series called “The V Word”. This is where I interview interesting people who you perhaps might not expect to be vegan; in much the same way that I’d viewed JME at first, but then ending up learning so much from him.
Which leads to me to here, Viappi.co.uk - An ever-expanding plant-based hub which will give you a wealth of guides to living your best vegan life. Enjoy!