Recently, I had the chance to interview Heather Doherty of the Etsy Shop “VeganPolice.” Heather started VeganPolice about two years ago after moving from Southern Ontario to a very small town in British Columbia with her family.
She had been screen-printing for about five years mostly working on clothing for other people and moving to BC gave her the time to concentrate on her own artwork and prints and inspired her to start working on her own vegan shirts. Her operation is very “DIY” which, as she says, “is fun but keeps me quite busy.”
Heather has an adorable 3-year-old boy (pictured) and another baby on the way due to arrive in September. The family is very excited to be moving to Victoria BC very soon. Where they live now is “pretty isolated and we are looking forward to living in a city where we can actually go out for vegan food,” she said.
Heather has a website in the works and also more prints coming out this summer. She has been an artist all of her life and is a passionate vegan. Be sure to shop the VeganPolice and support this small vegan business.
MV: You are VeganPolice on Etsy? Have you ever had to pull someone over for sneaking half and half?
HD: I am kept way too busy with major infractions like people saying “You eat fish though right?” and the always and forever popular “Where do you get your protein?” to even pay attention to people sneaking half and half.
MV: Your shirts and tanks and tees are all really great. What inspires you when creating a new design?
HD: It sounds a bit selfish really, but I just think about what I would want to wear. I like simple designs that get the point across. I grew up in Vancouver going to punk and hardcore shows as a teenager and that’s where I found out about veganism. I think that inspires me a lot to this day and you can see that influence in my designs.
MV: You’re located in British Columbia. Do you have a British or French accent?
HD: I have neither a British or French accent. I also have never said the word “Eh” in my life unless I am joking. I remember being in California a long time ago and saying the word “hey” to my friend. The Americans that we were hanging out with lost their minds laughing because they were convinced that I said “Eh.” Sorry to disappoint all of you but not all Canadians talk like Bob and Doug Mckenzie. I will however, be the first to admit that I say sorry way too much. I have traveled a bit around the states and heard my fair share of speech, which Americans seem to forget about when making fun of Canadians. Small town, American mid west gas station attendants, that’s all I have to say. He he he. Okay, I have one more thing to say. I would give my left arm for a Boston accent .
MV: How long have you been vegan and how many vegans do you know in Sechelt, BC, Canada?
HD: I have been vegan for about 18 years which is kind of hard to believe. It has gone by really fast. When I started out I knew nothing about it and had no cooking experience at all. I had one vegan friend who only ate peanut butter sandwiches and Pepsi so he was my role model. I would pour apple juice on my cereal because they didn’t have soy milk in stores yet and I didn’t know about health food stores. I would eat tomato and lettuce sandwiches and thought that that was how I was going to live the rest of my life.
Luckily, I met more vegans and learned how to cook soon after that. There are about 10 vegans that we have met on the entire Sunshine Coast which is the area where we live on the west coast of BC. That includes three towns and the one we live in (just past Sechelt) is a very small logging/fishing village in the middle of nowhere. It’s pretty intense up here and we don’t really fit in. I have enjoyed being able to wear my pajamas to walk my dog though. That’s a total bonus.
MV: What would we find if we opened your refrigerator right this minute?
HD: Lots of vegetables and fruit, two different kinds of “milk,” leftovers including a burrito that has the entire outer rim eaten off of it (that would be my 3 year old, not me). Organic juice, hummus, blueberry muffins, salsa, Daiya cheese, almond yogurt and vegan chocolate.
MV: All of your products are hand-printed. Take us through that process.
HD: I make my own screens and print my shirts as they are ordered. All my inks are water-based and eco-friendly which is great, because I can work in my studio at home and not worry about washing a bit of ink down the drain.
MV: Where do the majority of your orders come from and what is your most popular design?
HD: Most of my orders come from the States, specifically California. My most popular design is definitely “I Don’t Eat Pals” but “Ferocious Vegan” is getting up there which is awesome because I really made that print and thought “hmmmm … people are just going to think this is weird.”
But I made it anyway and people are really into it!
MV: You give 10% from every order to animal charities. If animals could talk, do you think they’d negotiate for a higher percentage?
HD: I think they would want me to keep my business going and get my designs out there. If I gave more than 10% at this point, it would be hard for me to afford to keep it up. I think the animals would totally get that. I would love to give more, but to be able to give anything makes me really happy and I feel very lucky to be doing what I am doing and getting so much support from the vegan community.
MV: If an omnivore asked you why you’re vegan, what would you say?
HD: It really depends on who it is and the situation that we are in. A lot of the time, people ask but don’t REALLY want to know the answer. To those people I usually say something really quick and depending on who they are I might say “because I like animals” or “ because I care about the environment,” then they usually say something like “Oh I don’t eat much meat” but I always hope that they might think it over when they have a moment to themselves.
MV: If you were stranded on a deserted island which tank top would you wear?
HD: Probably “I Don’t Eat Pals” so I can make friends with the local wildlife.