Onegreenbottle talks … with Made By Blitz

Everything we do here at onegreenbottle is done with the intention of reducing plastic waste and  promoting sustainability. Not only are our products reusable, but our packaging is zero waste and our production and shipping process is ethical and sustainable. When discussing sustainability, it is undeniable that following a plant based diet is a brilliant way for individuals to make small changes with a big impact. We think it is important to open up conversations about all aspects of sustainability and to consider what small changes we can make as individuals to make a difference.

Calum, aka madebyblitz is an online content creator who uses his platform to show how easy and delicious plant based cooking can be. He proves that it isn’t only good for animals and the environment, but for your health. He has a following of over 82k on instagram and is part of a supergroup of male vegan chefs, plantboiis, who are busting the myth that a vegan diet is a feminine diet. We spoke to Calum about his channel, how to introduce aspects of plant based diets into your every day life and much more….

When did you turn vegan and why? What Inspired and influenced you to do it?

Um, it’s a weird one… Actually, it’s not! I’ve been vegan for 3 years, and what really influenced me was seeing someone else doing it. For me, I take inspiration to do stuff from people I can relate to, if that makes sense? Nine times out of ten that’s someone close to me but one times out of ten it could be a celebrity, or a role model in that kind of essence. But in this case it was a family friend of mine. We were at a bbq and this is when I was eating meat and what not, and he was vegan and he basically explained why he was vegan and things like that. But what really stuck out to me was that he didn’t look like a vegan. So he was quite muscular and quite cool looking if that makes sense, and he didn’t look like a hippie. So I was like oooh this is quite interesting actually. I thought you know what? I’ll give it a go and see what it’s all about. Let me try and actually eat completely plant based. And I thought the worst case scenario, I do it for a month and I can just move on, but I didn’t and I actually just kept going with it. What stuck out to me was a mixture of  all the reasons. I didn’t really want to contribute to the problem of polluting the environment, obviously animal cruelty and more importantly as well, seeing all the health benefits it can have and seeing how people can feel after having a whole food, plant based diet is something I thought, do you know what, I can give it a go, its alright, yeah! 

So when you went vegan did you go completely cold turkey of everything? Or did you do it gradually? 

I progressed, so I’d never been vegetarian either so I was eating meat and fish and dairy, all the shebang. So I progressed in about a month, so I cut out eating meat and chicken first, then I’d have a little bit of fish and the fish would go and then yeah by chance it all worked out and I stuck with it. The cold turkey method works for some, but it’s not a one size fits all method because we all have different demands and it can be quite taxing if you’re just suddenly changing it up. And especially if you’ve got commitments like your family or a partner in the house whose not necessarily welcoming to it yet. You don’t want to force it on people so I think cold turkey is good for some methods but my kind of approach would be ease into it and go at your own pace because that’s generally the most affective way to get more people eating plant based.

Absolutely. When people do cold turkey it tends to last a week. 

Exactly 

Thats the thing!

For example I have people doing veganuary and they don’t do it again, but then they’ll do veganuary again and open themselves up to it. But if I want more people doing it, you want to incorporate easiness with it. And not go right, okay today you’re going vegan for a month and thats it, or whatnot. Do you see what I mean. 

Yeah, absolutely! So what would you say to people who want to do it, but they’ve got those trepidations, they’re not sure, or worried… what would you say?

I would say, ease into it. And try to make food (because it does boil down to the food) start to  make food that you actually like. It’s hard because you, say, want to recreate the exact same thing. A lot of people are like if I just get vegan beef or vegan chicken, that’ll be fine, but you’ll always be in a state of comparison, if that makes sense? What I want to do as a page and as an individual is get people cooking good meals that you enjoy to make, that doesn’t take too much time to do either. I hopefully have recipes that people aren’t going to extreme lengths to get ingredients for either. I want people to feel easiness with doing it. So my real advice would be have an intention to say you know what, I’m gonna try it out, try one meal a week, is the best start, and go from there. If you want to do two meals do that, and start incorporating it in that way.  The other thing is, don’t force yourself. So have a reason to do it. Don’t do it just because I’m doing it, or you find me interesting… I mean thats cool, cheers! (laughs) but you kind of want to have your own reason to do it. So if you do have an itch and you’re like, you know what, ‘this isn’t right what I’m doing’ or ‘I just fancy doing something a bit different’, or ‘I’m feeling quite lethargic with my diet at the moment’ like have a reason for it, or there isn’t a point. 

Totally agree with that, there are so many people that do it because it’s a trend or what not, but I think the thing that really makes me stick with it is that, I’m not afraid to admit that I miss things, do you know what I mean? I think there’s a misconception that like people think if you’re vegan you’re not going to miss certain products, but you’ve made this choice for a reason, so it kind of outweighs all of that…

Yeah, well this is the thing, this is what the products are for, like the vegan meats and the vegan cheeses and whatnot, its to fill a void if that makes sense and it gets to a point where you try it and you understand there will be a significant difference between the one you know and love and the new one. It’s up to you if you are willing to go to the lengths of thinking about the effects that that one bit of pleasure has and cutting it out and going for the sort of less approachable option, for the moment. But yeah I find vegan bacon, for example, that definitely is a fill a void situation whereby in a certain situation works beautiful. If you’re chopping it up and putting lardons, that is like for like, but if you’re trying to make a bacon sandwich you’re going to be going for the straight up comparison and you can’t be eating like that all the time. You need to really try and incorporate more meals that are more sustainable in your life, you see what I mean? Like you’re not going to be eating bacon sandwiches all the time and burgers. You’re going to be eating your pastas or your stir fries or your soups or your salads, if not sandwiches and things. Like little occasional bits, you see what I mean? 

Yeah exactly! Like something I learnt from your profile was when you are making dishes you really like, its not a case of ‘oh this has bacon in it, so I need to find a bacon substitute’ its more what does bacon actually bring to this dish… smokiness, so how can we incorporate smokiness into it with vegetables? It does open up your creativity as a cook, rather than just going through the motions. 

Oh yeah! Well there’s admiration from every chef for vegans and plant based cooks who actually put effort into vegetables and not rely on the substitutes. I feel like thats the real difference between the pages who come and go and the pages that will stay. Is those who actually take on  things and try and improve. I feel like over the past 3 years my whole aim at the start was making protein packed quick meals, now I’m on the case of making food that actually tastes good with vegetables and still incorporating that protein but having that as an underlaying thing. So just making meals is the forefront, making meals where people go ‘oh thats actually lovely’ rather than being like oh thats a nice bit of propaganda, have that. 


So, if you could sit down a meat eater and cook them three vegan dishes, not with the hopes of necessarily converting them, but busting some misconceptions about vegan food, what would you cook? 

Ah, so I made a carbonara. That’s typical, isn’t it? I’ve basically done the exact thing I’ve tried to not do and thats replicate the meat, but the point is I’m using whole food things, I’ve used tempeh as the bacon, I’ve used tofu in the cream. I’ve made ways of it tasting a different dish in itself but it gives you that sort of satisfaction you’d get from having a carbonara. I’d make that first off just to set the tone as; look this is the best I can do as a like for like meat sort of thing, and it’s still good. The second dish, I love a curry. So, for me food is something that is really communal, I love the idea of having people come together and like eat things that they wouldn’t eat on a regular or really embrace the food as a whole rather than living their life and being like just shove it in a bowl, quick, run, or ready meal it up. But yeah, I’d do a really nice curry with some naan and raita, I’d do that. It’s like roasted veg, I’d take cauliflower and all your leftover veg if that makes sense anything really. And roast it, that’s all you have to do, roast it in spices then shove that in the sauce. It’s a basic sauce of crushed tomatoes, mango chutney, garlic, ginger and yeah your jobs sort of done, if that makes sense. And the argument would be, that’s something that is quite easy to do. I’d say, the final dish, um, it’s hard, isn’t it? Maybe something quite normal like noodles so you can go, you know what, there’s a break. Or better yet a Mexican or something like that. The point would be I’d try and make the third dish stand out. So they’re like now that I’ve tried A and B, C is really like taking it to a new level, like A and B I’d maybe do, but C I would definitely have again. That’s the way I’d position it, because you kinda wanna warm into it, I don’t know if that makes sense? But there you are !

We’ve recently launched a new lunch box, what do you think is the perfect vegan lunch to go that you can make at home ? 

I think personally, it’s one of two things, there either the lunch that requires effort and the lunch that doesn’t. The lunch that doesn’t is making a bit more for your dinner, and literally putting that meal in a lunchbox and having that the next day. That sounds a bit like ‘is that it?’ But I don’t know about you but leftover food tastes so much better the next day! 

It’s so good! I think especially with certain vegan things…

So I find that with lasagne, pastas and lasagnes but curries as well, like uhh! But yeah thats the one that doesn’t require effort, that’s my perfect lunch. But the one that does is doing a wrap, maybe some sort of salad if you want it. But I like a good filled wrap, falafel maybe if I’m putting effort into it, I’d maybe do a chickpea tuna which is quite quick. The other thing I like doing is, I did a Nando’s wrap recently. And that’s a point as well, it’s like trying to make dishes that I used to know and love. Like the Nando’s one is just using tofu, you roast some vegetables and make your own peri peri sauce. Coat the tofu in the sauce and put that in a wrap with lettuce and chilli jam, just like Nando’s. But yeah, that’s my ideal lunch, using those two approaches. 

What are the positives you’ve noticed since turning vegan?

I have a lot more energy, I am able to do something I love and know I can keep improving with. So, cooking; I feel that being vegan has made me a much better chef, I am more conscious about the way I cook but also I have skills that have improved over the last three years that when you look at where I started to now, can you imagine in a few more years when you’re still coming up and there’s more things coming out, like oh say, there’s suddenly a variety of mushroom that tastes like chicken, like oh now I can do something with that because I know what to do, but yeah for me those are the positives. I’ve got more of a positive outlook on life and I feel like I’m genuinely doing my bit. I’d say those are the positives.  

Do you think it’s important to open up conversations about veganism? And in what way should we be approaching the subject when we do?

I guess for me, the approach is kind of understanding where they’re coming from. So for example, not everyone is like us, where they can work from home. Some people have overnight jobs, others are driving in a van all day, others are on sites, others are in offices, things like that. And it kind of is about trying to find out what that person is about. And think about how me, as a cook, can I help improve that. Because I’m coming from a completely different perspective whereby I’m free to cook when I want now. But before I was working in an office job so it was prepping meals the night before. So I’ve kind of got to have conversations with those people and see how I can help that. Whether that can be stopping people from thinking about going to the shops to buy their meal deal, which is hard, but trying to get people to do that and start prepping their meals. The approach has got to be its not a one size fits all approach. And that’s like everything we need to understand different people have different ways of life and for me its trying to understand that, and seeing if I can segment that into better things. 

What do you hope your followers gain from your content?

I hope my followers gain entertainment for one, that they actually leave and remember what they’ve seen, that they have the ability to then create that meal, but also it’s like I really try to make the approach as simple as possible and I feel thats the kind of thing I need to maintain over the years. Because as I am getting better at cooking I need to understand not everyone is at that level. So I need to make sure I know what’s my simple compared to their simple? What’s my 20 minutes compared to their 20 minutes? Do you see what I mean? I’ve got to really knuckle down on how I do things in the future. But I hope remember that vegan meals from my page are something that can be quick, something that can be enjoyed and something that requires simple ingredients would be the key for me. 

Quick fire Questions: 

Best plant milk?

Oat. Specifically oat milk barista. 

Protein source?

My favourite is tofu. I like tempeh, I like all the others, but tofu is quite versatile. Thats changed over the years but I like tofu. 

Best meat substitute?

I like vegan chicken. I feel like that is the one where it can be somewhat like for like. And if you get it from the right source it’s actually not as say bad as other substitutes can be.

Vegan cheese?

I don’t use it often but if I am I say the applewood, violife epic mature cheddar. I’d say those are the two 

Sweet food?

I’m a dark chocolate lover, that would be it for me. I’m a picker if that makes sense? I’ll just go in the fridge and pick a bit out. I like that or a protein bar. My taste is so weird compared to others, that is my thing. I’m not gonna say like a piece of fruit but yeah, I’m a chocolate lover. 

Snack?

Me! (laughs) no, right let me have a think! I don’t snack a lot apart from the protein bars so we will go with the same thing. 

Go to breakfast?

You’d think for a cook on instagram it would be oats, with a nice blueberry compote and coconut flakes and hemp seeds with almond butter and protein powder, but that happens maybe once a week. I eat sourdough toast with peanut butter and maybe marmite on it and that’s my breakfast and it’s remained that way for 2 years and I mean I don’t look bad for that. But yeah thats my go to breakfast always, toast. 

Vegan cookbook?

I like the bosh boys. Bosh’s first book is the first cookbook I bought that was vegan. I also like the happy pear books. I feel like those two in particular, bosh and happy pear, really write a good cookbook, and that is really hard to find. So, for example, having a page that does so well or does recipes is one thing but then you actually have to get people to want to make the food. And I feel like those really make you want to make it. I’d say deliciously Ella is up there too. But yeah in terms of plant based lifestyles, those three are up there with the cookbooks, and I’m hoping to join them one day! 

Place to eat?

I love a vegan burger. I feel like Honest Burgers are the best proper vegan burger. I feel like the best vegan place used to be open but it was a place called Pickywops. They used to do Italian pizza and those were beautiful. Mildred’s is also a great restaurant and Club Mexicana is a great Mexican, completely vegan. Oh, and Dishoom! 

To see more of Calum’s brilliant work, follow him on instagram: @madebyblitz and @plantboiis

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