Sheree Grant            |         August 1, 2018             |               thejamericanvegan.com


Photo: Skewers! By Iris.
Instagram has been known to bridge people together, from all walks of life. It has become such a powerful tool for business owners, artists, activists, entrepreneurs, educators, musicians and more. It also closes the gaps between people with various interests and diverse backgrounds, creating more awareness and also bringing our attention to events all over the world. 

There is also a dark side of Instagram. One of the difficulties many creatives struggle with is plagiarism of their own work. It's quite common to see pages taking the work from others' without credit. The longer I pay attention to Instagram, however, the more I notice how similar most pages are, and how awfully boring that becomes after scrolling by the same hashtags with the same pictures and reposts.

When I found Iris' Instagram page, there was no hesitation to click "follow". It was a "no- brainer". Her page was full of color, showcasing an array of beautiful photos of food and recipes that she created herself. As a fellow vegan, I admired her page and hoped to connect with her on veganism, life in London, and great vegan spots to grab tasty food whenever I returned. I had eaten so many meal deals during my months stay in the U.K., and I wanted things to be different on my next research trip. The more Cohen posted, the more I realized we had a lot in common, and that she was the real deal.

Cohen's page showed me a different side of veganism. To begin, I found her shortly after creating my Instagram page for the site. As it turned out, I was searching for vegans around the world and I found her. I was interested in her page because she was located in the U.K. Of course, my connection to England from my great, great English grandfather,  to my epic trip last year (where I experienced things that I am still processing) drew me in to her page, but every now and again, I'd message her about one of her posts, and she'd respond positively, starting a genuine conversation. I began going onto her site, and I found that Cohen had so much depth, and a warm heart. Her passion for learning about different cultures, food and the people illuminated in the work she produced on her site, while her desire to make a positive change in this world was visible on her Instagram page. 

Photo: Pancakes anyone?
While Cohen's website "Note To Iris" has a number of topics she takes on, like the importance of B12 in a vegan's diet, she also talks about pregnancy (like what she consumed as a vegan during her first trimester). The section under travel that houses city guides and restaurants brilliantly opens the topic of medical marijuana and vegan food in various places, like LA. As a fellow writer, blogger, traveller and foodie connoisseur, I have a great deal of respect for Cohen. As she uses her platform to raise awareness on a host of important topics, she gracefully connects with and supports fellow writers. Her compassion adds to the way she presents herself to the world on her website and social media platforms and is evident in the way she treats her followers.

Currently, Cohen also extends her knowledge to other entrepreneurs, assisting in building effective strategies for other brands and companies, while simultaneously working on personal and collaborative projects. I received the opportunity to interview Cohen, to learn more about her vegan journey and blogging lifestyle in the U.K. and abroad.


Where are you originally from? What is your hometown? 

I'm from Nijmegen (Dutch native from the Netherlands), now living in London.

Photo: Fresh juice anyone?
When did you decide to become a vegan, and what was the moment like? 

For me becoming vegan was a journey and it happened gradually rather than one day I just decided that was that. It took me a year to be fully vegan, including makeup and bodycare products. 

Was it difficult to transition?

It was difficult at first but it became easier day by day. You find what you like and dislike, which products you can easily switch to vegan products. 

How do you find the general public responds to vegans in the UK?

How has the response and reaction changed over the years? I’ve been vegan for three years now and veganism has changed massively in the UK. Nowadays there are vegan products widely available and even a vegan isle in a London supermarket (Waitrose). 

When I was in England last summer, I struggled to find vegan food. In the US, we always have people confusing vegetarians and vegans, and I noticed that in the UK as well. Do you find that restaurants are more accommodating to vegans within the last few months?

Yes there is some confusion between vegetarian dishes and vegan dishes when eating out in a non vegan place. I try and eat in vegan places or make sure I tell the waitress I have a dairy allergy. It’s always a risk you take when eating out but it’s important to drive sales so companies know veganism is on the rise and profitable. 

Photo:  Innovative Iris posts updates
for her followers on Instagram. Here we see
Cohen showing her baby bump!
Congratulations on being an expectant mother! These are exciting times! With all of the things we know about regarding foods for newborns, what are some ways you plan to nourish your infant and do you foresee any challenges? 

Working as a nanny in previous jobs I learned a lot about baby weaning and food that toddlers liked and disliked. I have also done a course in plant-based nutrition in order to give one-to-one nutritional coaching sessions. These experiences make me confident in being able to feed my baby what it needs to grow up a healthy child. :)

Children are first weaned onto fruits and vegetables and this is becomes their stomach can’t digest meat at all. Now it’s clear to me more than ever that our stomachs never really get used to digesting animal dirived proteins and fats. I’m so happy that I can give my child a healthy childhood, which looking back I didn’t have. 

Your website is beautiful and such a great resource for vegans, but really, anyone interested in conscious fashion, home decor and implementing environmental and eco savvy changes to their lifestyle would love it. What guided you to move in this direction to spread the vegan lifestyle message and what continues to inspire you? 

I started my blog as a diary to share with the world my findings of becoming vegan and my conscious journey into sustainability. I think what inspired me to keep going is that I want a healthy world for our children to grow up in. We won’t be here forever, but the next generation will and they are going to need all the help they can get for us to not further pollute the earth the way we have. 

You and Jay have such an inspiring love. You both equally support one another in your causes, and share them as well. How does he keep you motivated, and what are some causes he’s been involved in that you particularly enjoyed participating in? 

Photo: A picture is worth a thousand words.
Jay and Iris' pregnancy photoshoot shows their beautiful love.
Jay and I inspired each other to live a healthier lifestyle, it is so lovely to look back on our journey and see how far we’ve come. I am so happy he is going to be the father of my children. Jay recently organised a live discussion called ‘Dreaming of Wakanda’ where he debated the after effects of the film and what we can do as a community. He is always focussed on the spirit of togetherness and how we can all come together for a better understanding of people of the African diaspora, which I deeply admire in him. 

For those who have seen the documentaries like “What the Health” and “Cowspiracy”, yet still manage to believe that they cannot go vegan, what advice can you give them about going vegan?

Take it slow but go on a conscious journey. I found that helping my family switch little things was far more effective then demanding them to go vegan right this second. I think when you become more conscious and start to wonder where things come from, how it’s made, and what it’s made from, you soon start to realise you actually want to move towards a vegan lifestyle. 

Photo: Mangoes and berries.

Did you ever have a moment in your vegan journey that was difficult? If so, what helped you to overcome? If not, then what keeps you motivated to stick to the lifestyle? 

I have moments where tiredness and hunger tries to take over my logical thinking and I crave food right this second! When I’m out I’ll usually pop into a shop to grab a banana or a little bag of nuts, which then restores my energy levels. It’s important to still nourish yourself and not starve yourself. There are as many healthy vegans as there are unhealthy vegans, it is up to you to choose with every purchase. 

Photo: Family.
What is your muse? What are some places you’ve been to, or people you’ve met that inspired you in your life’s journey, and how does it impact your work (website, activism, personal life)? 

I’m lucky to have found a partner that inspired me on a daily basis. We travel as much as time allows and by traveling you discover new cultures, new foods, meet new people. This is what life should all be about to create a better understanding of each other. 

If you could say one thing to someone who has tried to go vegan and given up, what would it be? 

Remember to not be too hard on yourself. Try and find vegan friends and discover new places with them. It’s easier to be motivated together. 

How can people connect with you on social media? (Website, instagram, Twitter, email)?

@notetoiris for all my social media and iris@notetoiris.com - notetoiris.com

Join me on

Thank you Iris for the chat! Wishing Iris a safe delivery and all the best in her life's journey.  Bless up to you, Brother Jay and the little one on the way!

More vegan meals, by Iris!

All photo credits belong to Note To Iris (Iris Cohen). Unauthorized use of photos are prohibited.


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