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6Episodes
Society & Culture

Cipango (a poetic name for Japan) + ‘plant-based lifestyle’ = ciplantgo, a podcast aimed at introducing people living a plant-based lifestyle in Japan.日本で菜食ライフスタイルを送っている人々のインタビューを中心にしたポッドキャスト。

Episodes

January 13, 2019

ciplantgo#4: Nadia McKechnie

For this episode, I interviewed Nadia McKechnie, professional educational writer and voice-actor, and organizer extraordinaire of Tokyo Vegan Meetup.

Should you attend one of the TVM events, chances are you will be greeted by her warm and welcoming smile. Nadia displays some of the best hosting skills out there, making sure that newcomers feel among friends and find people to connect with.

In this interview, after a quick presentation of Tokyo Vegan Meetup, we cover her path to Japan and how it shaped her career, her perception of how much Japan changed during her 30 years in the country, her way into a plant-based lifestyle, and how it worked out for her in Japanese society and within her own family, her involvement in animal rights activism, and we finally go back to Tokyo Vegan Meetup before ending by one rapid fire question.

During meetups Nadia is always very busy being an awesome host, so having the opportunity to sit down and talk with her for a little more than an hour was a real pleasure for me. I hope it will be as interesting and enjoyable to you.

 

  • Introduction
  • 0:01:43s - Nadia’s presentation of Tokyo Vegan Meetup in a nutshell
  • 0:02:13s - Nadia’s path to Japan… starting 30 years ago, and how it shaped her career opportunities and choices
  • 0:06:58s - Nadia’s perception of what changed in Japan throughout her 30 years living there; emphasis on the economic side of things on how it impacted the workplace (freeters).
  • 0:12:28s - Nadia’s path to a plant-based diet and animal rights activism
    • 0:19:43s - How mentally challenging it is to be vegan in our current society: choose your battles, and aim gradually higher as you get comfortable where you are.
    • 0:23:43s - Circumstances that lead Nadia to go vegan.
    • 0:26:33s - Why being vegan is ultimately easier and more convenient than not… in a yet to come world
    • 0:31:33s - Nadia’s social circle in Japan and how it impacted her lifestyle choices; challenges living as a loose vegetarian in Japan… or lack thereof?
      • 0:38:03s - Raising a vegetarian child in Japan
    • 0:40:48s - Interacting with family as a vegan
  • 0:49:03s - Animal rights activism in Japan, and the terrible animal welfare condition in the country
  • 0:57:33s - About cognitive dissonance, and how addressing this issue regarding diet choices can lead to more happiness and fulfillment
  • 1:04:03s - Nadia’s first experience attending Tokyo Vegan Meetup, how she came to be organizer, and what kind of help is she and Saori looking for to expand the group’s activity

 

Introduction BGM: "Corporate Japan" by Birocratic (http://birocratic.lnk.to/allYL)

 

Additional notes and links

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January 4, 2019

ciplantgo#3: Rohan Mehra

For this episode, I interviewed Rohan Mehra, a science communicator currently working at Tokyo University. Upon meeting Rohan at a Tokyo Vegan Meetup, he immediately struck me as a very smart and eloquent person. And after discussing for a few minutes about what he is doing in Japan - working towards making Tokyo University more prevalent on the international academic scene - I knew that such an uncommon profile would make Rohan a very interesting guest for the podcast.

In this interview, we cover Rohan’s professional path to Japan, the circumstances that saw him choose vegetarianism when he was about 5 years old, his experience as a vegan in Japan and what it taught him about the Japanese mindset, and both his and my take on activism, before ending by a few rapid fire questions.

I really enjoyed my conversation with Rohan and I found him to be a very interesting guest. I hope you will enjoy listening to this discussion as much as I did having it!

 

  • Introduction
  • 0:01:02s - Rohan’s professional path, interest in Japan, and how he ended up working for Tokyo University
  • 0:11:27s - Rohan’s view on researchers’ mentality in Japan
  • 0:12:37s - Rohan’s path to veganism...starting at 5 years old!
    • 0:14:42s - About meat being more hidden in the West than in Asian countries, and how this impacts the level of awareness regarding where our food comes from
    • 0:20:42s - Why Japanese food was interesting to Rohan as a teenage vegetarian in the UK
  • 0:22:32s - Rohan’s first experience of Japan as a vegan, and the conclusions he came to through it
    • The problem of unreadable / unreliable labels
    • 0:25:17s - Animal based products used in almost all processed foods
    • 0:28:42s - Japan and business as usual: avoid making waves
    • 0:30:52s - Processed based philosophy in the business world… and in Japanese traditional arts / crafts
    • 0:34:42s - Buddhism prevalent in Japanese culture, and how it does not translates into more care for animals
    • 0:37:42s - How different is the state of all things vegan in Japan compared to Rohan’s expectation before travelling in the country
    • 0:40:12s - Back to labels on Japanese products, and how they do not list every ingredient
    • 0:43:42s - To which point should one aim to be vegan: white sugar or not, …
    • 0:49:32s - Rohan’s take on Japanese reaction to and acceptance of his veganism so far
  • 0:58:12s - Our take on (soft) activism
    • Rohan’s culinary and sneaky approach
    • 1:16:00s - The state of things at Tokyo University’s cafeteria
  • 1:19:07s - Rohan’s view on the future of veganism in Japan
  • 1:22:27s - About B12 / supplements
  • 1:24:52s - About blood work
  • 1:26:27s - Rohan’s favorite word
  • 1:27:32s - Something Rohan is not good at
  • 1:30:02s - Rohan’s favorite eating out places in Tokyo (segwaying into ethical concerns about food)
  • 1:38:02s - Last words about ‘carnism’
  • How to get in touch with Rohan

 

Introduction BGM: "Corporate Japan" by Birocratic (http://birocratic.lnk.to/allYL)

 

Additional notes and links

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January 4, 2019

ciplantgo#2: Kano Sekine

For this episode, I interviewed Kano Sekine, currently working for a Japanese to English translation company in Tokyo. Even today, in 2018, veganism is still a very unknown - or at least misunderstood - concept in Japan. So when I heard that not only had Kano become vegan while being in Japan almost 10 years ago, but that along the way her parents went plant-based as well, I knew she would make a very interesting guest for the podcast.

In this interview, we cover her path to veganism, and focus especially on when and how her mindset changed in regards to animal products. She also talks about how her practical and social life changed as she went vegan, and explains how her parents came to lead a mostly plant based lifestyle. Then, we finally end the podcast by some rapid fire questions.

This was a very interesting podcast for me, as I am fascinated with what makes people - me included - act the way they do. If, like me, there is a part of what brought you to veganism now and not earlier that you cannot clearly explain, or if you simply are curious about how one Japanese managed to become - and stay! - vegan in a country that barely knows what it means, I am sure you will find Kano’s story interesting as well.

 

After listening to her own interview, Kano asked me to add the following corrections and extra information to her answers, so that to avoid any misinterpretation of her story and views.

  • When talking about the consumption of eggs and dairy, she says in the interview that she continued to eat eggs or milk until September 2009; this is not accurate, she had them until around New Year 2010.
  • About her aunt, who she presents in the interview as being vegetarian, Kano adds: “my aunt, the yoga instructor, has been a health conscious practitioner of macrobiotics and has been keeping her macrobiotic diet for ethical reasons too since I introduced her to veganism.”
  • Kano’s last addition addresses the end of the interview, where she briefly talks about B12. To her words, she adds: “Though I gave nutritional advice, I believe some vegans are okay not to take b12 supplements. I actually haven’t had any until this Autumn.
    In East Asia, because people often eat and can digest seaweed products which contain b12, most Japanese vegans stay healthy without supplementing.
    For example, Japanese Buddhist monks in zen temples have followed a plant based diet for a long long time without tablets of B12.”

About this added comment, remember that it is Kano’s views on the matter of B12. Neither of us are health professionals, and you should always seek the advices of a qualified doctor regarding serious health matters.

Lastly, before jumping into the interview, keep in mind that Kano is expressing somehow complex ideas and feelings in a foreign language. I know first hand how challenging an exercise this can be, which is why I allowed myself to, sometimes, help her find her words or “finish” her sentences; each time making sure with her that I did not misinterpret her thoughts.

 

 

  • Introduction, corrections and additions to some of Kano’s answers (her consumption of dairy/eggs and her views on B12, among other)
  • 0:03:20s - Kano’s path to veganism
    • 0:06:00s - Encountering the concept of veganism for the first time, abroad
    • 0:08:20s - Going plant-based after watching ‘Our Daily Bread’: what in that documentary decided Kano to act?
    • 0:13:50s - Kano’s representation of where animal products come from before going vegan
    • 0:18:30s - Kano’s opinion on ‘ethical’ meat
    • 0:21:13s - First few days after the documentary: how did Kano feel and eat
    • 0:21:17s - Why did she not vegan from the start?
    • 0:29:55s - Coming out socially as a vegetarian/vegan
  • 0:38:00s - How, and why, did Kano’s parents go plant-based
  • 0:42:05s - Reaching out to family: ethical or health arguments?
  • 0:50:45s - How did becoming vegan change Kano’s diet and eating lifestyle
  • 0:54:10s - Being the only vegan in Japan you know… until joining Tokyo Vegan Meetup
  • 1:01:45s - Eating out vegan in Yokohama/Tokyo in 2010
  • 1:06:15s - Most positive/negative thing of having become vegan
  • 1:11:30 - Rapid fire questions
    • What gets you up in the morning?
    • How do you see the future of veganism in Japan?
    • Is there something you believe to be true that nobody agrees upon?
    • What are you curious about right now?
    • What are your top 3 eating out place in Shinjuku?
  • 1:25:30 - Last words about B12 (see introduction for an update about this)

 

Introduction BGM: "Corporate Japan" by Birocratic (http://birocratic.lnk.to/allYL)

 

Additional notes and links

ciplantgo Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ciplantgo/

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January 3, 2019

ciplantgo#1: Saori Kondo

For this first episode, I interviewed Saori Kondo, co-organizer of the Tokyo Vegan Meetup group. One of the first things that struck me upon meeting Saori early 2018 was her incredibly positive energy, backed up by an awesome smile. As a co-organizer of the Tokyo Vegan meetups, she does her best to talk to everyone showing up at the group’s events, which means you will probably not be able to enjoy her presence for more than a few minutes at a time. Still, even if for a very short time, you will definitely feel genuine caring vibes emanating from her. Saori is the antithesis of the angry vegan: her love for life and all living beings makes her shine with positivity.

In this interview, we cover her path to veganism, her experience as a vegan living in Tokyo, how she became co-organizer of the Tokyo Vegan meetup group, what kind of and how much work comes with that job. Then, we finally end the podcast by some rapid fire questions. Her story is unique in a lot of ways, and I hope you will find it as interesting as I did.

  • Introduction
  • 0:01:40s - Presentation of the Tokyo Vegan Meetup (TVM) group and their activities
  • 0:03:10s - Saori’s path to veganism
    • 0:06:18s - Saori’s first steps as a vegetarian/vegan in Japan
    • 0:07:35s - Starting to attend TVM
    • 0:09:30s - Saori’s social life as a plant-based person in Tokyo
    • 0:13:20s - Saori’s change to veganism
    • 0:22:45s - Saori’s diet habits since becoming vegan
  • 0:26:35s - Becoming a TVM co-organizer
  • 0:30:30s - What is a TVM co-organizer doing exactly?
    • 0:42:00s - How much hours is Saori working for TVM, and what would be the job TVM could ask to an extra pair of hands
  • 0:46:35s - Most positive/negative aspect of having become vegan
  • 0:49:30s - Rapid fire questions
    • What gets you up in the morning?
    • What are you not very good at?
    • Is there something you believe to be true that nobody agrees upon?
    • Is there something you wished you had known 20 years ago?
    • What are you curious about right now?
    • What is your favorite vegan restaurant and food in Tokyo?

 

Introduction BGM: "Corporate Japan" by Birocratic (http://birocratic.lnk.to/allYL)

 

Additional notes and links

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Ciplantgoへようこそ。Ciplantgoとは、日本の昔の名称であるCipangoが、英語のPlant=植物を合体した自作の言葉です。Ciplantgoには二面があります:日本で菜食ライフスタイルを送っている人々のインタビューが中心になるポッドキャストと、僕自身のライフスタイルが垣間見えるインスタグラムです。

人生のほぼ半分、日本文化と言語と接してきたフロラン・デブベリーと言います。30代に入ってから予想外の思想やキャリア転換に出逢った結果、2017年9月ぐらいヴィーガンになりました。そこからの旅は興味深かった反面、悔しい経験も山程しました。そこで、個人的にどういうふうに動物のための活動をすればいいかを真剣に考えてみれば、見出した答えはこのciplantgoです。

このポッドキャストは主に菜食主義者(フレクシタリアン、ベジタリアン、ヴィーガンなど)を中心にしたインタビューを提供するものになっています。そして、できるかぎりそれらのインタビューを英語で送るつもりですが、場合によって日本語かフランス語をも使わせてもらいます。

できれば、エピソードを月2回載せたいと思っていますが、現在それは保証できません。また、インスタグラムのアカウントには、トレーニング、食習慣や趣味を表す写真と動画を載せて、無理をしないヴィーガンでも、アクティブで、健康的で、そして社交的な人生を送ることができることを証明したいと思っています。

 

Music: "Corporate Japan" by Birocratic (http://birocratic.lnk.to/allYL)

ciplantgo Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ciplantgo/

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January 3, 2019

ciplantgo: What, Why & Who

Welcome to ciplantgo, where Cipango - a poetic name for Japan, used by Marco Polo - and ‘plant-based lifestyle’ cross path. There are two sides to ciplantgo: a podcast aimed at introducing people living a plant-based lifestyle in Japan, and an instagram account where I share many aspects of my everyday routine.

My name is Florent Debouverie, and I’ve been knee deep into Japanese culture and language for almost half of my life. After quite a few unexpected career and mindset turns in my early 30s, I came to veganism around September 2017. The journey since then has been both fascinatingly fruitful and frustrating, and has led me to ask myself how to spread, in my own way, the message for more compassion towards animals. Ciplantgo is my answer to this question.

The podcast will mainly revolve around interviews of people living in Japan and living a plant-based lifestyle, whether they’re vegan, vegetarian or flexitarian. When possible, the interviews will be held in English; if not, then in any other language I am fluent in, French or Japanese. Although being in Japan, it makes sense to me to prioritize English. One reason is that I like the idea of reaching out to foreigners in Japan, or to any other English speaker throughout the world. Another reason is my belief that the more one identifies with me, the more likely that person will feel like challenging their ideas and habits. Being a foreigner in Japan, I do not think a lot of Japanese would naturally identify with who I am. Lastly, English is a language that comes more naturally to me, so I believe it will be a better tool to help me focus on the interview itself rather than on my Japanese grammar. That being said, I might reconsider this decision further along the line, if I deem it necessary.

As for the frequency of releases, I aim at one or two episodes per months; I’m someone who loves consistency and would very much want to guarantee an interview every other week, but only time will tell if I can manage that on top of the usual life stuff.

On the instagram account, I will upload pictures and videos of my various training and diet routines, as well as of my numerous hobbies. It will be a way for me to use my good health, fitness and very socially active life as a testimony to how a plant-based lifestyle can contribute to enjoying all those positive aspects without much, if any, sacrifices.

 

Music: "Corporate Japan" by Birocratic (http://birocratic.lnk.to/allYL)

ciplantgo Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ciplantgo/

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