Here at GUNAS, we’ve been hooked on Veggie Magnifique for what seems like forever. The Paris-based blog, which focuses on a wellness lifestyle, was created by Ann Christine and Chloe Dunn. Their content includes nutritious and delicious plant-based recipes, holistic wellness, and tips and tricks for a healthier and happier life. “Veggie Magnifique believes that a healthy body and mind is the first step in creating a truly successful and fulfilling life,” explain the bloggers. “We also aim to encourage mindful consumption, and support sustainable businesses and practices.” With such a beautiful philosophy and a blog chock full of positive living and imagery, our obsession with the website seems perfectly justified.
Although Ann and Chloe (which always sound like such refreshing namesakes) lead super busy lives, we had the opportunity to discuss some of GUNAS’ favorite subjects, as well as personal advice and opinions from the Parisian ladies themselves.
When did an animal (and processed) free diet begin for each of you?
Chloe: I was raised as a pescatarian, because my parents decided to give up meat in the 80s for health and ethical reasons. I went vegetarian about six years ago, and transitioned to a plant-based diet, free from processed food, about four years ago.
Ann: I was the weird kid that had to drink vegetable juice in the morning before school, since my dad is a chiropractor and privy to certain health practices. Sadly, though, I wasn’t raised veggie. It wasn’t until many years later that I started really researching and gradually removing animal products. I went vegetarian about seven years ago, and have been plant-based and processed food-free for nearly five years.
You’ve mentioned it took a year to prepare your blog before making it live. What did the preparation consist of and how did you stay motivated?
The preparation consisted of clarifying our vision, concretizing, and then translating this vision into something real. It look a year and half due to our standards, logistics, and the fact that we were new at this!
We wanted Veggie Magnifique to be of service to the world, but also to be uniquely us. We both have an insatiable passion for not only healthy plant-based food and Paris, but also music, and living a kind and sustainable life. We wanted Veggie Magnifique to convey these passions. Of course, it took time to figure out the best way to share our enthusiasm, find our voice, and, then also to create a brand and logo that we felt embodied our mission.
At first, we took a whack at WordPress ourselves, but soon realized that our needs for the site went way beyond our beginner IT skills! Best decision ever? Having a true coder/designer bring our visions to digital life! We found an absolutely fantastic web designer (Mat Martin) who has been integral to VM, and invaluable to us as VM grows.
As with any endeavor, motivation comes from having a strong why. It was clear that a Paris wellness portal was in need, but one that was upbeat, glamorous, savvy, and simple, and we felt that we were the ones to provide this. Not only that, but since we’re best friends, we enjoyed every step of the process… drinking lots of tea, and letting our imaginations run wild along the way.
Taking the extra time to create something genuine definitely seems worthwhile (not to mention the tea time). As a result, VM has become such a strong resource for healthy living and eating. How do you stay informed?
Since we are both so passionate about health and wellbeing, research just comes naturally. We’re voracious readers and documentary watchers. We scour FMTV for new documentaries, and we follow many nutritional experts such as Dr. Group at Global Healing Center, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Dr. Joel Fuhrman, and especially Dr. Joe Dispenza. Of course we’re also fans of Kris Carr, and Alicia Silverstone.
Also, Ann is a certified Health Coach who studied holistic nutrition at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN), which has provided the both of us with a rich bank of knowledge.
What’s a typical day like on the job?
The beauty of our lives is that there is no typical day! In addition to being wellness veggie bloggers, we’re also musicians and voice-over artists, so we stay pretty busy. We generally meet up at least once or twice a week to plan, talk shop, film videos, try a new veggie restaurant… or, honestly, just to goof off — as friends ought to do!
The launch of your website has led to various blog features, partnerships, catering jobs and workshops. Can you let us in on any future projects?
Yes! It’s been so exciting to see how Veggie Magnifique has grown since we launched. There are many things in the pipeline, but we’ll tell you this: we’re currently working on a secret cooking show pilot with our filmmaker extraordinaire, David Desgardin.
What are your favorite outfits to wear with your GUNAS gear?
Chloe: I love to pair my black Naomi Gunas bag with my favourite vegan tee that Ann got for me, and a classic Parisienne monochrome look, with black vegan pumps by Will’s Shoes.
Ann: Honestly? I wear my Madison Gunas errrryday with errrrything. But, to be more specific, I often pair it with black and white outfits and my golden Beyond Skin loafers. I love the mix of gold with the bag’s creamy camel-y color.
Is it challenging to be animal free in the fashion capital of the world? Where are the best city spots for sustainable clothing?
Yes! It’s all kinds of challenging! But hopefully not for long.
For 100% vegan, handmade, and sustainable clothing, we love to shop at Carmen Ragosta. Carmen is a warm-hearted Italian who makes all her original pieces in her basement atelier.
Though, the truth is, the best place to find vegan fashion is online. We love Will’s Vegan Shoes, and when they have sales, Beyond Skin. So many brands, though, are starting to carry vegan leathers and fabrics — it’s exciting.
We also like to buy used, à la zero waste. We’re currently working on a series of videos with a friend of ours, The Closet Guru Paris, to help people navigate the bevy of used and vintage shops in the Marais. Of course, we’re on a quest to be as minimalist as possible, though. We’re all about: reduce, reuse, recycle. (We often give each other our old clothes actually…)
Sounds fabulous! What about the essential cookbooks for every vegan kitchen?
There are so many good ones! We love all of Marie Laforêt’s books (she’s big in France), Mimi Kirk for raw dishes, Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Juice, and Alicia Silverstone’s The Kind Diet for her macrobiotic recipes and savory waffles. Our favorite though, is probably the Minimalist Baker’s website. So many delish vegan recipes!
Aside from healthy eating, you (like many animal lovers) seem to embrace minimalism. Why do you theorise the two often come hand in hand?
Doreen Virtue has this delightful little book called “Eating in the Light” and we think that this concept of “light” really hits the nail on the head regarding the link between veganism and minimalism. When you’re lightening up your life, both from a perspective of your diet and your “karmic/eco footprint”, this quality of lightness tends to turn up in other areas of your life, like your physical space. You want less. You want clean. You’ve rid your body of junk, and so this detox spills into your relationship with possessions and your home life. Being a vegan and being a minimalist are both mindful and appreciative ways to live, and therefore totally congruent.
Given that you’re both from different parts of the world, what are the best tips for traveling vegan?
We both adore traveling! We’ve found the best way to travel vegan is to bring snacks, and prepare beforehand. I.e. do your research on all the veggie and veggie-friendly places before you go. We’re both religious about carrying jars of nuts and cacao beans in our purses all the time, though it’s especially crucial when it comes to plane food and travel.
Europe can be notorious for its rich meat cuisines. Has living animal free in this part of the world become any more or less challenging over time?
Less challenging, absolutely! We’re happy to report that Paris has undergone a plant-based revolution in the last five years. The amount of healthful and vibrant restaurants in the city of lights has increased dramatically, and we’ve noticed that mindsets are changing, too. It’s even become “trendy” among boho Parisians, and hipster-types to “be vegan” at least part of the time. Which, trust us, is progress!
We love that you both have backgrounds in film! What movie characters do you most identify with?
Ann: Ha! I love this question. I’d say that I’m a mix of Amélie, Emma, and Maria Von Trapp all rolled into one.
Chloe: I’m going to have to say Lilo from Lilo & Stitch.
Perfect answers and pure classics! What about your fashion icons?
Anyone who is comfortable in their OWN skin, and makes style a personal form of expression, instead of a trendy trap.
Where do you see ethical fashion going over the next decade?
We see it going far, far, far, so help us, God. Things must change, and gratefully, they are. We hope that in the next ten years it will become majorly antiquated to be wearing animals. We’re certain ethical fashion is the future, and just as more and more electric cars are being built, more and more people want eco, organic, sustainable and cruelty-free clothing. Because people are starting to wake up. There’s an elevation of consciousness happening right now… Even those unacquainted with the concept of vegetarianism and veganism are starting to wonder if there isn’t perhaps another way to live that doesn’t involve killing animals for human use and consumption.
Fellow #GUNASGIRLS would say I’m…
Ann: Idealist, firecracker, quirky-pants.
Chloe: Silly, thoughtful, enthusiastic.
We love having the opportunity to talk to our #GUNASGIRLS on a more personal level. Each and every woman has their own unique perspective to offer, whether they’re based here in New York or Paris, the Veggie Magnifique headquarters. In addition to their insight, we always part feeling a little more hopeful in the future of veganism. Merci beaucoup, Ann and Chloe!