Friday, 10 May, 2019
Outraged by the cruel use of animals for human vanity, model and former Big Brother star Ksenia Lavrentieva (aka Kay Lovelle) chats to Dominika Piasecka about all the wonderful ways she helps animals through her work.
Ksenia Lavrentieva has always been freaked out by meat because it’s “way too close to what I’m made of”, yet it took her over three decades to become vegan. It’s only been a year since her life-changing decision, but Ksenia has already established herself as an expert on sustainable vegan fashion and is starting an ethical revolution within the industry.
The former actress and Big Brother contestant – who went into the house with the sole intention of promoting veganism – focuses all her efforts on adding a level of ‘glam’ to help break the old vegan stereotypes. She finds the topic underrepresented and is keen on being a spokesperson for it. “We need a Cowspiracy for the fashion industry!” she exclaimed.
Ksenia, who currently works for a modelling agency, included a clause in her contract to refuse wearing animal-derived materials, and only uses vegan and cruelty-free makeup and cosmetic products. Despite being a relatively new vegan, she is giving the mission her all to bring vegan fashion into the mainstream.
Becoming a vegan activist
Going vegan in March 2018 changed not only Ksenia’s career, but also her outlook on the world and everything around her. “It completely rewired my thinking and I stopped seeing animal products as food,” she said. “Consuming someone who had been tortured their entire life and was born to die is just not good for our mental state. I realised these animals suffered for me to have something that I can find a healthier alternative to; it just didn’t make sense.”
After discovering street activism groups like Anonymous for the Voiceless and the Earthlings Experience, Ksenia felt she needed to support their wonderful work as she strongly feels the visual aspect of the demonstrations – where passers-by are shown slaughterhouse footage – and its non-pushy approach are vital to inspiring people to consider veganism.
She said: “I think it’s the best form of street activism, as people generally don’t like protesters shouting with banners, even if their message is important.
“I’ve thought long and hard on how to do this is in a way where I will be understood and liked rather than people seeing it as if I’m blaming them because I was there in their place a year ago.
“I’ve realised the best way to promote veganism is to lead by example and give people a viable alternative to the inhumane and old-fashioned ways in which we use animals.”
Veganising the fashion world
Ksenia mentions American companies Modern Meadow and Bolt Threads, which she sees as the future of fashion. They are producing lab grown silk and leather that will replace animal products and the techniques they use are revolutionary and kind to the environment, attracting not just vegans but anyone who cares about the planet.
Piñatex®, known for being used in the luxurious Hilton Bankside vegan suite, is one of the first companies to dive into vegan leather. Using the by-products of the fruit industry, they avoid waste and provide farmers with a source of extra income without the need to use extra pesticides, land and water.
You of course don’t need luxury brands to veganise your wardrobe as there are plenty of high street retailers that offer vegan clothing. Consumers can help by contacting fashion retailers and designers and sharing the benefits of vegan fashion with them.
Ksenia highlights the importance of presenting vegan fashion as cool, classy and conventional, and breaking the lingering vegan stereotypes of “hippy clothing and sandals” that the average person cannot relate to. “Once people see that you can still be an ethical fashionista and live your life in a glamorous and modern way, the movement will become much more desirable and approachable,” she added.
“It’s sexy to be ethically smart and in touch with the planet and our fellow creatures. It’s no longer cool or prestige to wear or eat animals, or use products that perform cruel tests on them. Our technology is more advanced than ever before, yet our social constructs are still running based on the old drives and beliefs.”
Vegan fashion has come a long way, with many brands becoming fur-free in the last few years, and others vowing to drop wool and silk. According to the Higg Materials Sustainability Index, leather from cows is nearly three times as harmful to the environment as vegan leather, and wool is twice as harmful as polyester. This is in spite of PU leather and polyester both being plastics!
A fashionable way forward
Having done some acting and inspired by the success of vegan activist Tal Gilboa in Israel after participating in Big Brother, Ksenia felt confident enough to appear on the British version of the show last year in a bid to change some minds and hearts.
She was contacted by many people expressing an interest in veganism which made it worthwhile for her and said her housemates loved vegan food so much that she was often left hungry! “But of course I was happy to share it with them,” she laughs.
Ksenia will appear on the BBC Three programme ‘Hayley Goes Vegan’ this summer, promoting vegan fashion. You can visit Ksenia’s wonderful website on www.thebiofashionvible.com and follow her on Instagram at mylittleksenia.