Instagram is such a beautiful platform, especially if you are a vegan, or wanting to become more vegan.
However, with so many people on there doing very similar things, it can be easy to get drowned by the mass of options and get completely lost, with your precious little squares never to be seen by the people you want to reach.
Enter Kim-Julie Hansen. She is the OG vegan sharer in my mind, and has amassed over 1.5 million followers in the process...purely by sharing.
@bestofvegan is a platform Kim-Julie created to share her fave pictures and recipes from other accounts, and one I feel very honoured to have been featured on...those crazy delicious protein bites which can be found here went bananas as a result of a feature.
Kim-Julie is soon to release her first every cookbook, which you can pre-order here. I can't wait to get my hands on it...and for now, here's a quick Q&A with the beauty herself...all the way from NYC!
How long have you been vegan?
I’ve been vegan since 2011, so for about seven years.
Was there a pivotal event that created the catalyst for becoming vegan or was it a gradual process for you?
I was working on a research paper about animal agriculture and came across information on factory farming that shocked me to the point of going vegan overnight. It was a passage from Gail Eisnitz’s book Slaughterhouse: The Shocking Story of Greed, Neglect, and Inhumane Treatment Inside the U.S. Meat Industry that ultimately made me see things differently and that made me realize that I could no longer consume animal products, even though I thought it’d be impossible to live without them.
You started with a blog, Brussels Vegan, to share your journey of being vegan, what was your dream outcome for the blog when you began?
I actually started with an Instagram account, the blog came two years later. I started the account anonymously at first and really didn’t have any expectations whatsoever. My personal Instagram account had less than 30 followers and I thought that it’d be cool to one day reach 200 or 300 followers. So, when people started showing interest in my account, I was surprised to say the least.
You are a massive figure of support to the vegan foodie community on Instagram, why is this important to you when so many other people only care about their own work and content?
About six months after starting Brussels Vegan, I got the idea to start a share account called Best of Vegan. On the one hand, I kept seeing accounts with amazing photography that inspired me (@dltvo was one of the first ones I fell in love with) and on the other hand, I wanted to create a platform where non-vegans could find images of delicious food and have the recipe right at hand, so I thought that creating @bestofvegan would be the perfect way to showcase those beautiful accounts and simultaneously inspire non-vegans to cook more vegan dishes.
If you weren’t doing what you do, you’d be…
I’d probably be working in academics. Prior to starting my Instagram account, I got my BA and MA in modern languages and comparative literature. I had always dreamed of moving to the U.S. to get my PhD, but after reading The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau, I made the decision to put it on hold and to focus on blogging instead.
What’s your secret to success on Instagram?
To be honest, I don’t think there is a secret. It’s a mix of consistency and a bit of luck. Obviously, creating and sharing quality content is important too, but it’s not enough to guarantee “success”. I also don’t think that numbers alone mean success, it’s about the people you can inspire and influence positively. I know accounts with five thousand followers that inspire me more and some accounts that have five million followers.
Most underrated vegan ingredient?
You’ve recently changed your original account name to be named after yourself, why the change?
When I started Brussels Vegan, I really didn’t think about the name much. I initially wanted to call it “Vegan in Brussels” but thought that @brusselsvegan sounded better. I never intended to share anything personal on the account, not even my name. A year after starting the account, I moved to New York and sharing more personal things no longer seemed as intimidating. I decided to keep the name at first because most people assumed it was named after brussels sprouts, not Brussels City, anyway. Recently, however, especially this past year, I’ve felt more and more disconnected from both the account and the name. I have no intention of moving back to Brussels anytime soon and also want to be able to talk about more than just veganism, hence the change.
You are soon to release your own cookbook, how did you find the whole process? - PRE ORDER YOUR COPY HERE
Overwhelming, exciting, exhausting and rewarding. I think I underestimated how much work goes into creating a book. I had written eBooks before, but it’s a very different experience. I shot all the photos for the book as well, so juggling recipe testing, photographing and writing the book while running a company and working full time was stressful. I’m incredibly grateful for the experience though and now that it’s done, I can’t wait to do it again.
What can we expect to see in the book?
The book is a practical guide, a cookbook and a 28-day meal plan. It’s ideal for people wishing to transition to a vegan lifestyle, but also for those who are already vegan and who’d like to learn more about eating whole foods and meal prepping.
What inspires you about the future of veganism?
I love seeing new trends emerge and how much more popular veganism is getting every single day. I’m excited to see what’s next and to be able to witness the movement grow.
Fave dish to make?
Vegan Mac’n Cheese.
Fave vegan eatery in NYC?
Seasoned Vegan in Harlem.
How big is the vegan scene in NYC? Are you noticing an increase?
It’s huge. There are about a hundred fully vegan places and it’s still growing. You can find anything from vegan French Cuisine to vegan sushi, vegan fast food and fine dining.
The next vegan product you hope to see launched is?
I have yet to find vegan cottage cheese, which I used to be obsessed with, so I hope someone decides to create it.