Photo courtesy of The V Spot
The Collaborative recently met with Danielle Broeker and Katt Dicocco of The V Spot podcast over seitan wings and hefty chickpea salad and BBQ jackfruit sandwiches at Berben & Wolff’s Vegan Delicatessen in Albany to talk about the duo’s growing audience, controversial vegan opinions and what they’ve learned about the power of podcasting over their first year.
The Collaborative: What made you want to start The V Spot?
Katt Dicocco: We had dabbled a bit in blogging but just weren’t very good at keeping up with it. It was the two of us and a couple of our vegan friends and we all had areas we’d gravitate towards. Dani wrote a lot about yoga and our friend wrote about environmental [issues.] In the podcast, we do focus a lot on food because food is the one misunderstanding about the vegan world. “What do you eat?” as I’m sitting here with barbeque sauce dripping down my arm.
COL: On top of food, veganism can really affect the entirety of someone’s lifestyle. What are some of the main topics you like to cover in an episode?
Danielle Broeker: We have our pop culture corner, something in the news, if celebrities or big name brands like Starbucks are doing something vegan. Then we have a food topic, and in between it’s really anything that catches our eye. We’ve done things like the environmental effects of almonds. Everyone loves using almond milk but is it the best choice?
We open by saying, ‘Welcome to The V Spot, a vegan-ish podcast” because yeah, we’re vegan and we talk about it a lot but it’s so much more than that. It’s kind of just being a good person.
KD: So much of what Dani and I stand for is just doing your best. You can make the biggest difference through positive intentions. We talk a lot about compassion fatigue and relationships.
COL: How have you seen your audience started to interact with you over the past year?
DB: We’ve had more people emailing us about challenges that they’re having, things going on in their lives that they want advice on. It’s been growing all the sudden.
KD: Our progression happened fast, but I think it’s for a couple of different reasons. We’re super lucky to have the podcast network. I don’t know what this would even look like if we didn’t have soundbite.fm. They’ve done a lot for us. It also has to do with where we’re located. The Capital Region and upstate New York, the vegan community around here is really supportive. Vegans in general, worldwide, will listen to support other vegans.
COL: In terms of the people who are reaching out to you with challenges, do any stick out to you?
KD: When we did the relationship episode, we posted to our Facebook and just asked for questions. The vegan relationship with non-vegans is a hot button issue [laughs] and we got so many comments on that thread of people wanting to share their experiences, their hang-ups, their concern for future relationships. That was only a handful of episodes in. We weren’t even established yet, so for people to want to have those pretty personal conversations with us was cool. One woman reached out to us because someone was visiting and wanted to go fishing. These people are having these experiences and are like, “Let me reach out to these two strangers across the country and see what they think.”
COL: How has it been, dealing with suddenly having that authority as advice-givers?
DB: Fucking weird. [laughs] Our very first episode was about Thanksgiving. We have pretty different opinions and in that first episode, Katt was gonna go to Thanksgiving with her partner’s family and bring food because she wants to introduce people to vegan food whereas I feel like I’m done. I’m gonna have my own Thanksgiving. I’ve tried that and it didn’t work for me.
KD: Some people are very quick to say, “You’re vegan so this is what you have to do.” But a lot of conversations that we have are Dani going one way and me going the other. That’s important because we try to talk about making the right choice for yourself. No matter what you do, you can still call yourself a vegan.
DB: Your vegan doesn’t look like my vegan. It all looks different and it doesn’t make you any more or any less than someone else. It’s a key message for us because you do see a lot of judgement and it can be really hard. It turns people off.
COL: That’s a whole different gap to bridge too, operating within the vegan community.
DB: Exactly, and it’s nice to just tell people, “It’s OK. You’re trying and that’s what matters.” So many people, even to us, will say, “Well that’s not very vegan.” and we’ll be like, “Isn’t it though?” Just slow blinking at them. [laughs] You’re gonna mess up and that’s OK. Two people who have a podcast mess up too, I think we got dairy in our milkshakes the other day. That’s gonna happen whether you’re vegan for five years or 20 years.
COL: How has operating this media outlet affected the way you maintain a vegan lifestyle?
DB: It keeps us sane.
KD: It came for us at a really important time too, when we realized that some of the more aggressive protests and demonstrations that we were once supportive of may not be for us. So, how can we continue to be a part of the community where we can? The podcast has done that for us in a much more positive way.
COL: Have you been thinking about the future of the podcast, given its quick progression?
KD: We just went to “My Favorite Murder: Live!” and were like, “We want this!” We had a goal that by next summer we wanted to do our first Veg Fest and we [were] a part of it in November so I feel like this opens up the door for us to continue filming live episodes. I think more animal rights conferences and vegan events in general is where we’d like to see ourselves going.
COL: Why do you think podcasting has taken off the way it has in recent years?
DB: I think it’s a natural thing. The ones that I listen to, I enjoy because they are doing things that are in their wheelhouse. I listen to My Favorite Murder and they’re just two women doing what they enjoy. They’re not having to “work” a day in their life, even if it’s an interview style podcast like Main Street Vegan.
KD: I almost don’t listen to music anymore because I’m always listening to podcasts in my car. You can listen to people talk about things you’re interested in, even things you thought weren’t OK to be interested in, like people who are obsessed with true crime. [laughs] There is this whole world of podcasts where the people who are making them are creating these communities–
DB: From across the globe.
KD: Which I think is the case for us too, because we have a lot of opinions that some vegans might share, but might not want to admit to, because it becomes, “Oh, you’re not vegan enough.” I think that’s our draw, because we don’t care.
COL: What would you say are some of your most controversial opinions on veganism?
DB: Honey. We don’t go get the bear from Price Chopper but…if it’s local I would.
KD: I mean, I honestly don’t remember the last time I ate honey, but I would.
DB: Thrifted wool. I’m not going to go to the store and buy a sweater that’s wool but I’m not going to set it on fire.
KD: Pets. There are some vegans who believe you shouldn’t have them. Also, we are very OK with things like “Meatless Mondays” or taking your time to approach veganism where many people are like, “all or nothing.”
COL: What advice would you give to someone who is just breaking in and want to make veganism as much a part of their lifestyle as possible?
DB: Ask lots of questions. Don’t listen to the answers.
KD: Yeah, whatever people tell you, don’t take it as the word of the vegan lord.
DB: You’re going to hear a mix of things but it has to be about you and your journey, however long it takes. If you let too many voices in, you’re going to get frustrated.
KD: You also might travel down the same road me and Dani did where you’re going to get angry about the things that are happening around you. Let that happen but don’t hold onto it forever. Don’t let it become the only way you see veganism.
DB: Find a friend that you can be angry with and vent, it could be us!
Listen to The V Spot on Spotify, iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher and thevspot.fm.