On the 4th June 2016 I was in Paris for the fifth occasion of the walk for the closing of slaughterhouses organised by the French anti-specist association L214. Around 3 000 people of all ages, from all over France had gathered at Place de la Republique to raise their voice for the voiceless. The demonstration was awesome, lively, vibrant and so emotional. I met a lot of people, artists, singers, models and activists.
After Brigitte Gothiere, the cofounder of the association L214, I met with vegan model Chloe Tesla. During the walk, Chloe was at the head of the cortege with her drum to give the rhythm. She looked like Marianne in the painting ‘Liberty leading the people’ by Eugene Delacroix. A passionate woman. I wanted to learn more about her and how she reconciles her modelling life and commitment to animal rights.
The recording is in French with English subtitles.
Here is the transcript.
Chloe, good morning and thank to you for accepting this interview with Vegan Fashion Venture. So the first thing I would like you to do is to introduce yourself.
So good morning and thank to you Florence. My name is Chloe, Chloe Tesla on the Internet. I’m a model. I’m 24 years old.
Could you please tell us when and how you turned vegan
I choose the vegan pathway, if we can say that like that, because of an ex. He was vegetarian and he really enthused me about his story and animal cause.
Actually my brother has been vegetarian for 6 years but surprisingly he never moved me. Yes of course I was moved by what he did but I told me it’s because he doesn’t like meat by taste. I liked meat so I was a bit disturbed to hurt animals but I didn’t imagine how it was behind. So I never really ask me the question. Because of this ex, he knew about to bring us all evidence, all needed information about ethics of course but also health, ecology. He was so convincing so that I became vegetarian in first instance and my parents followed me. I have been vegan for 2 or 3 years, 3 years actually.
Why this last step from vegetarian to vegan?
I had a time at the beginning of my vegetarism when I explained why I was a vegetarian, I told people ‘yes there are vegan but it’s too much. They are like that but it’s too extreme. I already do a lot for animals by being vegetarian and with eggs and milk they don’t suffer so there is no reason to stop eating cheese and eggs.
Actually, when we are vegetarian, there are lot of things that become to flourish. This opens my mind not only on animal ethics, at 100%, because I was really passionate about animal ethics and animal cause more generally. Because this is tightly bounded with ecology, health, nutrition so I became ever more passionate about that, and I has ever told, this opens my mind on so many topics like spirituality, sport, raw food diet, thousand matters, travel and so on, I have plenty of little branches that have grown in my head and interest me a lot.
For a long time, I would like to turn vegan but I didn’t have courage. I think this was like a kind of egoism. I told me, with so many excuses, ‘yes but in France it’s so difficult and so on’….yes, I said that. So the day I left to London, because I told me okay, in London I have no more excuse, I have so many choices everywhere compared to France so I started and I have no regret.
Did you have pets when you were young?
Yes, this is funny that you ask for that because I would have loved to have an unlimited number but my mother, who became vegan just after me and loves animals, respects life and so on, didn’t want to have pets at home. She is not attracted to that. She likes free animals, outside in nature but at home absolutely not.
Could you please tell us a bit more about your activism?
Actually, all love I had for animals before was confirmed there. And I told me ‘you have discovered something huge, something that is hidden, yes animals are suffering and I love animals and I want them no longer suffer and if I tell to the people pictures I saw and I propose them to watch the pictures and I explain that for health, ecology, there are only benefits, people will turn vegetarian like that. This is obvious that we should stop eating meat.
For me, being an activist it’s really speak about it every day and I try to speak about it with…I speak with my heart of course but without being judgmental and it’s really difficult especially at the beginning because we are so passionate but also full of hate against the entire world because they continue to eat our beloved animals. So it’s difficult. Speak every day but also what I made recently, that I built recently is my YouTube channel. Being on YouTube is extremely challenging. Because being exposed outside my professional environment, being voluntary in my intimacy to talk about a such topic, which is so touchy, it’s wow.
I launched this YouTube channel because being vegan for me wasn’t enough. I really needed something else to speak on this topic. At the beginning I wanted to raise all these ethical issues and spoke very seriously with more than 30 minutes of recording. But rapidly with the audience around my channel, request were raised and now I make short videos, positive and colourful, I give recipes, always simple and tasty, because I really like to eat, I speak on my dog’s food who is vegan, what have been the benefits of this change in her food, how I daily feed her. I present my family who join me, in fact my brother is a vegetarian and my father and mother are vegan as well.
I spoke about my cruelty free cosmetics meaning no tested on animals so entirely vegan. Many tips. I answer the questions and I try to stay close with my followers.
When you say activit, I understand, it’s the fact to speak every day, to run this YouTube channel, but is it not also to participate in events. With London Vegan Actions for example, aren’t you involved in the fight against foie gras?
Yes, absolutely, I see that you conducted investigations!
And yesterday didn’t you have a privileged position during the walk against the slaughterhouses?
This is a fact that very quickly I needed to be close to the people with whom I share this passion and this willingness to speak about animal cause and to open the cages.
I remember the first action I took part of was in Marseille. It was an action against vivisection and I was very moved by this happening. We had posters and dressed like people working in a laboratory holding very shock pictures. I was deeply moved and I cried a bit because of the feeling of this strength coming from everybody who share that, who have this power within them. And also because of pedestrians’ reaction who where finally very open-minded, who stopped, who looked at the pictures, people from all ages, from everywhere. So I told me perhaps there is hope, there is something to do. Since, I’ve really multiplied actions.
Now, I would like you to speak about your career of model.
Okay. When I was 16, I was in a mall with my mum and grandma and there was a fashion show held by Elite that showed clothing collections of various stores in the mall. This day, there was a photographer and Elite agency and I went back with the two business cards, one from Elite and the other from the photographer.
Spotted in a mall!
It was wonderful and with my family we built high hope on that, we told us ‘ she will become an international model’. And also because of a competition for which my mother registered me almost by force. A competition for Marie-Claire that I won. I was immediately in a real environment of shooting with professional teams, it was just so impressive! I did a shooting from 8 am until 00:30 a. I didn’t had free time, on one side the nails, on the other side hairstyling, make-up and so on> I realised that I was not very confident in myself . During this shooting it was a real challenge. When I stopped my studies, I wanted resume in this environment and it is still like a personal therapy, a daily challenge.
So how do you reconcile your activism with your model career? Do you only work with vegan brands? How does it work?
My dream would be to work only with vegan brands however as you must know the world is far from being vegan and unfortunately it’s difficult. Recently, I worked for a vegan footwear brand. They contacted me but I didn’t want to be pay for this shooting. For me it was just rational to freely lend my image for animal. It was Noah, an Italian and vegan footwear brand.
I really hope to multiply this kind of performance. Otherwise, how does it work? I have been already contacted by 100% non-vegan brands as for example a tanner and once a site named ‘skin, leather and fur’ I thing it was the worsts and I remember this day when I was contacted, I had a protest against fur in Marseille and I checked my email box and I saw this brand that contacted me for a shooting and I answered ‘no thanks, I just came back from a protest against what you sell’.
And as well, when I am dressed up or maked-up by professional teams for shootings I didn’t meet vegans. I believe that I know only two vegan make-up artists so it’s really rare. So I am maked-up with products far from being vegan, tested on animals. This does make me happy but I always explain to hairdressers and make-up artists my view and that alternative exists.
Most of the people are not born vegan, we all become vegans. It’s a personal journey which is really exciting. I would like people more open-minded regarding that, no more looking at vegans like extremists but instead like normal people who have raised the question about animal welfare and who try to do their best for this cause, who are far from being perfect. People also say ‘if you are vegan why do you have an IPhone?’ Nothing to do with animal cause. It concerns humans so it’s also interesting but we do our best every day and we will do it until every cage is open.