Vegans of the World: Meet Topaz Hooper

Vegans of the World: Meet Topaz Hooper

Topaz runs her business as the Cruelty Free Copywriter and calls Denver home, which she claims is a plant based CPG heaven! Let's find out more about this beautiful, inspiring, fun, writer! 

Q: When did you first go Vegan?
A: 2015

Q: What happened, what was the reason you chose to go Vegan?
A: In 2015, after being a vegetarian for nearly 2.5 years, I attended a VegFest in my then city of Tampa. I watched the documentary Earthlings and had to leave halfway through. From there, I went fully vegan and never looked back.

Q: How did you feel when you made the decision to go Vegan?
A: I went vegan in Tampa where I had a ton of other friends who were vegetarian or plant-based. I felt super supported and even got a job as a vegan chef so I could learn how to cook for myself and others. Honestly, it was a relieving experience. I had already gone as far as to become a vegetarian, so becoming a vegan felt like the next natural step.

Q: What 3 words best describe how you felt?
A: In control, thoughtful, ethical

Q: What was or has been the most challenging part?
A: The most challenging part was explaining my choice to others. In my head, the choice to give up meat, cheese, eggs, and all animal products was an easy one. But some of my friends and family couldn't understand it. So, when I would visit my family in Denver, CO for the holiday season, they didn't know what to cook for me. They would make fun of my meals, calling it "bird food". It was disheartening at first. But I learned later that explaining and justifying my choices isn't necessary. So I essentially stopped doing it. Now, my friends and family accept my choice.

Q: What was the hardest food for you to 'give up'?
A: Goat cheese and salmon specifically. Those are the only animal products that I genuinely miss. Everything else was easy to "give up".

Q: Are there any foods or products that you are available now that you wished existed back then?
A: I went vegan in 2015 when there was actually a good amount of vegan products available. I would say we have more vegan fish products on the market now, but I wish there had been a salmon alternative back then.

Q: Did you go Vegan by yourself or did you know others?
A: I went vegan alone. It was an internal, ethical choice. I didn't need others to join me or justify my choices. I was happy to go vegan solo for my own spiritual, mental, and physical wellbeing.

Q: What do you find the most challenging about being around non vegan people?
A: Sometimes my friends and family want to go out to eat to celebrate a birthday, holiday, or special event, and they don't often think of me when choosing restaurants. They'll choose a steakhouse or a very conventional chain that doesn't have many vegan options. I wish they'd look at menus more carefully before choosing a restaurant to ensure that both meat eaters and vegans alike can enjoy the meal.

Q: What's it like being Vegan in Colorado?
A: There are a ton of vegans in Colorado, especially in the Front Range (Denver, Boulder, etc). Colorado had huge hippie scene in the 1970's and there was an abundance of farms. So, naturally, many people opted for plant-based foods when available. Now, many people believe in the health and ethical benefits of eating plants. So most restaurants in the Denver/Boulder area at least have one vegan option or the chef can create a vegan option on demand. The community is strong here!

Q: What would you say has changed the most in terms of Veganism over the course of your journey?
A: When I first went vegan, I wanted to veganize all of my favorite foods growing up (think macaroni and cheese, burgers, etc). Over time, that led me to eating more processed vegan food (think Beyond Burgers, etc) and those options didn't make me feel or look good. As time went on, I've gone back to the basics and have opted for more and more plant-based options that may not necessarily resemble meat, cheese, or eggs. But truly whole-food plant-based meals that look like colorful plates full of plants. That transformation was much better for my health and my wallet. But also, when I first became vegan, my veganism was relegated only to food. I was still using animal products in my cosmetics or wearing animal-based fashion like leather. Only in the last 5 years have I become more conscious of where animal products sneak into my personal fashion and cosmetics. In the last five years, I've completely removed animal derived ingredients from my internal and external landscape and have instead, chosen to support plant-based and cruelty-free fashion, cosmetics, and skincare brands.

Q: What do you eat at least 3-5 times a week?
A: Spinach salads are an everyday occurrence. I also enjoy a green smoothie 3-5 times a week. I eat a lot of beans and rice in some form or another. The beans and grains change along with their sides, but I do eat a ton of them throughout the week. I love oatmeal and vegan cashew yogurt, too. Those happen almost daily. Nuts, and specifically almonds, make their way into my diet very often. Avocados are also almost a daily occurrence. In general, I crave green vegetables, healthy fats, and lean plant-based proteins on a regular basis.

Q: What do you find is most challenging when it comes to Vegan Fashion? 
A: Finding durable vegan fashion can be tough! Lots of products look good, but can't stand the test of time. By that I mean, if I buy a leather purse, I can probably keep it for years if not decades. Vegan fashion hasn't gotten to that level yet. In our fast fashion environment, that doesn't seem to be a problem to most consumers who are used to getting new purses, shoes, accessories, etc every year. But I prefer to hold onto my pieces and have them longer-term both for function and beauty. I have found that apple leather, cactus leather, and PVC are super durable. So I tend to opt for those. however, I would love to see other leather alternatives like mushroom, pineapple, and grain leather become more durable. As far as designs go, I think vegan fashion is on the right track and is finally able to compete with traditional brands.

Q: Can you share 3-5 of your favourite Vegan Brands or Products?
A: Yes! For beauty, I love Herbivore Botanicals, Solo Vegan, and Lily Sado. For food/supplements, I love Crafty Counter, Foragers, and Apothekary. For fashion, I love SENTIENT, Matt & Nat, and Samara.

Q: What was the funniest/craziest thing that someone has said or you've heard/read about Veganism or about being Vegan?
A: "Oh, you're a vegan! You must like bird food."

Q: The #1 reason you are Vegan:
A: For my health!

You can follow Topaz on Instagram @crueltyfreecopywriter and check out her website: https://www.crueltyfreecopywriter.com/
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