By Honey Morris
Amanda Riddles is the creator of the “A Very Small Vegan Kitchen” Facebook page and website.
Amanda is a compassionate, kindhearted vegan from Melbourne, Australia and we recently had an opportunity to talk to this beautiful soul about her love of animals, including how she walks a mini horse and of course, all things vegan.
Hi Amanda, firstly, when and why did you become vegan?
Hello! I have been vegan for nearly two and a half years now and I just love it. I wish I did it sooner. I became vegan as I have always loved animals, but like most, had not yet made the connection and believed that eating meat and other animal by products was "normal". The more research I did into animal agriculture I was just horrified and deeply saddened - those poor, beautiful animals - and for me it was such an easy decision after that. I no longer wanted to, though indirectly, be part of a system that is based on cruelty and exploitation. I no longer wanted to pay somebody to kill and torment innocent animals, so I could have a meal. I would not harm anyone, including an animal myself, yet had been paying for it to be done for so many years. It saddens me that it took me 32 years to get it and make the connection, but I’m so glad I am here now.
Please tell us a little about A Very Small Vegan Kitchen and, also, how that led you to creating your business, A Very Small Training Group?
Not long after I became vegan I started a Facebook page and website called A Very Small Vegan Kitchen as I had found a new joy for cooking, unlike when I was a meat eater. I used to hate cooking and found it boring, but now I genuinely love the creative process that goes into vegan cooking and all the wonderful and interesting things you can do with a variety of plant based foods. I also wanted to connect with likeminded people worldwide as I only knew of one vegan person, my friend Suz, when I made the change.
The aim was also to share information with others, inspire through fitness pursuits and activism and more. The page started off small and close knit but has now grown to almost 16,000 followers. It is a very interactive, supportive and non-judgmental page where I want others to feel comfortable and learn from each other. We are all on different journeys, at different stages in our lives and evolution, so I want people to support, inspire and educate each other, rather than insult and pass judgement. I think this page has achieved that thus far.
As a qualified Teacher and Personal Trainer I decided to combine my qualifications and started up my business A Very Small Training Group where my services include personal training, kid’s fitness, babysitting/homework help, pet sitting and dog walking. It is going well and growing steadily. I am passionate about animals, kids and fitness, so it was really a no brainer but to create a business I was proud of and passionate about. I get much joy out of helping and nurturing others.
Is it true that one of your client’s is a mini horse?!
YES! Ha ha! Her name is Candy and I walk her once a week for my friend Jenni. Jenni asked me to get her mini horse out for some exercise, so I take her out in the burbs of Melbourne. As you can imagine we get many stares and giggles and people saying "gee that's a big dog"!
Amanda, I happen to know, that like myself, you’re a crazy cat lady! Please tell us about your cats and, the invaluable work you do with stray cats in your area?
Yep, crazy cat lady represent! Ha ha! I currently have six cats, all crazy, funny girls called Minky, Titch, Mr Crazy, Fred, Chopstick and Baby Zorro. I adore them and they are like my children. At one stage I had nine! As you can imagine, feeding them all can get quite expensive but it’s so worth it. I love knowing that they are warm, loved and cared for, as all animals should be. My mother and I have also been feeding and rehoming stray cats and kittens for many years now. We’ve been putting out water and food every morning and night for as long as I can remember. The ones that we can manage to catch, we have had de-sexed and found homes for. It makes me really happy to give these angels a second chance with a family that can love and care for them. I can see myself doing this forever.
As a Spartan race competitor, please tell us how you use your participation in these challenging obstacle courses to raise awareness of animal rights and veganism?
I love running in these events. They are bloody tough, but that's what I enjoy about it. I use these races as a chance to do some kind of activism and I write "For the Animals" etc. on my body and wear my animal badges. I like to show people that yes, a vegan can successfully participate and finish these gruelling events. No, you don't need to eat meat to be strong, tough and fit.
I also love hearing about all the vegan athletes coming out, be it in UFC, NRL, swimming, cricket, AFL, running, bodybuilding, cross fit, tennis, the list goes on.
It makes me proud that more and more people are making the connection and choosing a life of kindness and compassion for all.
If you’d like to find out more about Amanda and join her supportive Facebook page, check out the links below:
About the author
In addition to being the Assistant Online Editor of Barefoot Vegan, Honey Morris is also the creator of Veggie Yum Yums, a friendly vegan Facebook page.
Honey lives with her husband Stu and Ruby the rescue cat, in picturesque Western Australia. They recently built on 2.5 acres in a beautiful semi-rural location and are passionate about transforming their land into a safe haven for WA wildlife and also, rescuing farmed animals, especially chickens. Visit her website for recipes, reviews and hot topics.
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