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The Voice of a Generation: this is Paul

Paul & Kim Paul & Kim 15 Feb 2021 The Voice of a Generation: this is Paul

Meet Paul Ensley, one of the most activistic Gen Xers you’ll ever meet. He was born in 1964 and lived through a time when reflecting on consumer’s ethics wasn't a big part of everyday life: “We weren’t ignorant, just not informed.”

After coming to the realisation that his generation set the premise for the mass exploitation of our fellow people, animals and earth, he grew determined to be the change he wanted to see in this world.

Paul has been living a plant-based life for over a year now, showing that you don’t have to be an impressionable, idealistic youngster to be emotionally (and rationally) open to some of the hidden horrors that unfortunately are part of industries across the world.

Who he is to us? Paul is involved in Shop Like You Give a Damn as both an investor and content producer.

First thoughts?

It was a lot easier than expected.

What does a vegan, fair & sustainable lifestyle mean to you?

Simply to be aware of choices you make in life. Buy only the stuff you really need, give your possessions a second life and stop with the mindless consuming. Think, then act.

I haven’t been brought up in a world where sustainable choices were made. It wasn’t even an issue you would think about. We consumed unconsciously in a world where everything seemed possible, because we were simply not aware of the impact of our behaviour. We weren’t ignorant, just not informed.

“We worried about the cold war, not about our earth warming up"

What was your pivoting moment in time?

It happened when I became a dad. In my opinion raising children means you become more aware of the world they need to live in. That reflects on your behaviour as a parent. Years ago I came to the understanding that my generation cannot be proud of what we’ve done with our planet. Then, fueled with an uneasy feeling of disbelief, you start looking for solutions, discovering online communities, documentaries, long-reads and books.

I was surprised by the growing underbelly in society of many small vegan, fair and sustainable initiatives. It gave me hope and the urge to become part of it. You’re never too old to change your habits.

And yes, The Game Changers1 on Netflix gave me a final push into a plant-based lifestyle. Since then, I never felt better and my partner Kisa even turned out to be a vegan master-chef. Easy-peasy.

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vegan food bliss

 

A development you love?

So many creative entrepreneurs are closing the gap between living an ignorant or a conscious life. I love these new initiatives, which was also the main reason to get involved in Shop Like You give a Damn: a team of people eager to make a change in our habits, not by preaching a new truth but by opening a dialogue and an easy-of-use shopping experience.

Some dislikes?

The human race excels at putting stuff in mental boxes.‘Oh, vegan is dull, boring and not for me’, is our first thought. Sure, change is scary and sometimes difficult. But that is way too easy and this kind of behaviour never brought anything good for mankind and the planet we live on. Keep an open mind please, especially people of my generation.

“The most dangerous phrase in the language is, ‘We’ve always done it this way.’ — Grace Murray Hopper

Your best (vegan) experience?

Frankly, there’s too many to choose from. From fine dining in a local plant-based restaurant like Vegan Sushi bar2, eating Willicroft’s vegan No Cheese Fondue3 at home, to winning the Dutch Vegan Awards4 in 2019 in the category “Best Webshop” with Shop Like You Give a Damn. I indulge myself in the movement.

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The Voice of a Generation: this is Paul

Alex, Paul, Kim & Stephan winning the Vegan Award for Best (Online) Store in 2019

What still needs changing?

Looking back at the state of affairs a couple of years ago, the vegan, fair and sustainable movement has come very far. Further than imaginable.

Even corporate finance advisors are investing in vegan companies nowadays! Things are happening so fast, we need to hang on tight to keep track. So no, nothing top of mind. Just hold on and enjoy the ride.

Paul’s vision?

Younger generations are picking up where mine has dropped the ball. In a couple of years I expect a meat and dairy tax and a markup on your health insurance for not having a healthy lifestyle. Not everyone will agree with me, but it's the only way to protect our offspring.

Some words to vegan, fair and sustainable entrepreneurs?

Keep the energy flowing and your team together. What we all are doing is relevant. Never underestimate our role in society. Change comes from radical fresh ideas.

Paul’s tips

  1. The Game Changers
  2. Vegan Sushi Bar
  3. Willicroft’s (This Is Not) Cheese Fondue
  4. The NVV’s Vegan Awards (read our own blog about this huge moment for us too)