Updated: Jun 16, 2021
Juliet Gellatley is a renowned writer, animal activist and founder/Director of Viva!, Vegetarian International Voice for Animals. She has spent most of her life campaigning on behalf of animal rights. She’s the author of countless books and widely acclaimed vegetarian books including The Livewire Guide to Going, Being and Staying Veggie!, Born To Be Wild: The Livewire Guide to Saving Animals, among others. Juliet has been on countless TV and radio stations talking about the positives of veganism for decades and has won the Linda McCartney Award for Animal Welfare in 1999.
For more information about this episode, and to hear the first part of this interview, please go to: #3 - Zoonotic Disease & Veganism: Juliet Gellatley Interview.
I want to tell the story of why this interview, in particular, means so much to me.
For over a year now, I’ve been co-presenting a radio show on Future Radio 107.8fm. It’s called Future Vegan (the 1st radio show dedicated to veganism in the UK) and along with my phenomenal colleagues - Clive, Laura and Emily - we put together some fantastic work.
As well as having lots of fun as a team, we’ve also shared a lot of quality time with intriguing and knowledgeable guests, mainly from the Norfolk area but also nationally, and even internationally. Not only would we have some beautiful conversations (on and off mic) but they would usually bring in some kind of delicious food to try; exotic, aromatic, indulgent, mouth-watering snippets to try on air. Great company, beautiful guests, tasty treats; we were in heaven.
Then on 16th March 2020, the UK was placed into lockdown. We had to adapt and make do with what we had. As I was the only presenter with a microphone, I was to temporarily home record a show or two, solo, until we knew what we were doing. So out came the duvets, blankets and clothes horses. No more exotic treats, at least for a while.
After repeating a couple of our previous interviews, our producer Clive mentioned that we had the opportunity to interview someone new, one of his heroes in fact. This, for me, was a whole new realm of scary. I hadn’t conducted a solo interview before on Future Vegan (well, I’d done one, but with a close friend) and not only that, it would have to be online, either through Skype or Zoom.
I was massively panicked, terrified at the prospect of not having anyone else to fall back on, on not being able to read the situation over the internet, of being in command and having the direct and dictate the pace of the conversation. I didn’t know how to set it up, I didn’t know how many questions I’d have to ask and I was petrified of potential long pauses, not knowing what to say.
But sometimes, a really great motivator can be the prospect of not letting down the people you trust and respect. To be clear, it can also make the situation worse - bringing on heavy panic attacks and such - but for me, in this case, it showed me the finish line I needed to move forward.
I massively over-prepared, scrawling down maybe fifteen or sixteen questions, for what was essentially supposed to be a 15-minute interview, all of which I wrote two days before. I ran through my recording set up again and again - checking the mic, the backup mic and the back up backup mic - everything had to run efficiently and smoothly.
Then came the day. Having prepared a water and a tea (the stream might clear my throat) whilst worrying about needing the toilet and being trapped, I wrestled with the tricky conundrum of video call etiquette. When was the best time to call? We were due to talk at 4pm and in a normal situation, turning up early would be perfect, but could you turn up early for Skype? Would you be catching the person unaware? Would exactly 4pm look a little too precise? Should I give them a 5-minute cushion, or would they be cursing me down the other end, bitching about my tardiness and unprofessionalism? I opted in the end for 2/3 minutes past 4.
As Skype made that horrible, sickening sound of calling someone, I knew that at any moment, we would be face to face(ish). After a nerving but calming preamble before the interview, everything was set, double checked, triple checked (could never be enough checks to fully ensure me everything was definitely working) and we started the interview.
Only it didn’t feel so much like an interview. More an engaging conversation/lecture. A space for Juliet to talk and me to sit back, taking in some truly remarkable information. I was enthralled by what she said, but equally present in my surroundings, keeping an eye on time, noting down certain key phrases and words, checking the equipment was performing the correct job, etc.
I left the conversation feeling reinvigorated. We recorded enough for two episodes of Future Vegan and I really felt like we could’ve continued for much longer. We’d done it, I’d done it. I felt relaxed, in control and motivated to do this all over again. Not only that, but it opened me up to a whole new world. I knew I wanted to do a podcast which included interviews, but I didn’t know how I would ever action that. This gave me, not only the knowledge of how to have these conversations remotely but the confidence and belief that I could do just that; talk to interesting people and record a properly fascinating interaction.
I’ve since recorded many an interview over the past 6 months, growing in strength with every discussion, learning new skills and attempting to shake off the shackles of bad habits and missteps. I learnt to face my fear and proved to myself that they don’t define me.
The Savage Balance Podcast is a weekly podcast offering a new story, essay, interview, thought or leftover scribble from the back of a napkin.