SERGI: I WENT VEGAN ON A DARE
Much to the dismay of our crippling hunger, Cat Bar, the respected vegan burger joint in Barcelona, generously decided to close its doors on the Wednesday evening Sergi and I arranged to meet up for a chat. After a lovely hug and a brainstorm for nearby eateries we decided to grab some chips and head back to my living room which was just round the corner. (Girls, don't hate me. I know you're all jealous. He even used my bathroom.)
It seemed fitting to break the ice by mentioning the mind-boggling election results, to which the good-tempered lad showed little anger, despite admitting his frustration. “I went to bed thinking there was a 0% chance of Trump winning...when my friends sent messages I thought it was a joke. He's out of his mind. And it's pretty scary. You think the world is progressing and moving forward, but at times it takes a few steps back.” We discuss veganism in Spain and its slow progression compared to other western countries like the UK, due to stark cultural differences. “I've seen jamon [dry cured ham] my entire life so it doesn't bother me that much. Every Spanish grandma's kitchen has a pig's leg hanging in there. “If you go into a butcher's here, not even kidding they'll have the entire pig's head on display. That for them is a selling tactic. Old women see it and go, oh a pig's head, I must buy some jamon.” “I've only been vegan for 10 months now, so I have noticed a huge change... I have a fresh memory of my life before.”
Barcelona is relatively vegan friendly, despite the explicit celebration of meat in Spain, a country whose traditional provinces glorify animal consumption. “The small cities of Spain are the worst… good luck getting fed there. There's a pretty strong chance of you eating an animal product accidentally cause they'll just want to sell something to you anyway.” As we polish off our chips, we start getting into just how Sergi went vegan. The reason was Jon Venus. If you don't know who Jon Venus is, let me summarise: He's a buff vegan bodybuilder from Barcelona with a fantastic YouTube channel and he is the reason Sergi was introduced to us. “Jon is someone I've been around for a long time. “One day he was being a pain in the ass with me, saying, Sergi, do you know you're drinking titty milk? I would just laugh...it was funny.” “Then he told me, just for 30 days, only 30 days, you eat nothing but vegan food and watch a few documentaries and I said yeah sure, it's only a month.” Little did Sergi know that this challenge would completely change him. “By the first week I was just done with eggs, the smell, ugh. Fried eggs were my number one favourite food...in my opinion it was the perfect food, for whatever reason.” It's clear in the way Sergi speaks about Jon that he truly respects him and admires his work ethic.
“He has changed a lot of minds...he is a man who is really consistent, he's a machine. He's probably uploaded close to 500 videos in 3 years. That's a lot of work. “He brings in a lot of meat eaters and he makes them think.” As I gawk at Sergi and his bromance I remind myself he has a girlfriend and quickly change the subject. I ask him if he truly deserves the title of “Pigeon Man”.
“Jon started calling me this because I used to have broad shoulders, back & chest but my calves were a mess...like little toothpicks, I couldn't do anything about them. My body was like “Sergi, it's not happening.”” Since we're on the subject of Jon and fitness, I finally ask the all important question: Does Jon take steroids?
“This is something that we joke about so much. If you knew his family and his girlfriend...if they knew he was taking steroids and making a living off that, they would kill him, they would destroy him. Even me, I would be so pissed. “Jon has really good genetics but honestly, if you eat to the best of your ability and train right consistently, you're gonna get that body in 3 or 4 years. But no one trains like he does and no one eats like he does.” Sergi confesses going to the gym with Jon is extremely annoying for him, “I'm ready to pass out and he's going “oh, 5 more reps”...what? He trains to the point of complete depletion.”
So how did Sergi and Jon even get into the world of YouTube and video editing? “I used to skateboard a lot so I'd make skating videos as well as edit some other friends' videos. I've been around editing software for years. I'm 25 now. With Jon I started a couple YT channels where we were doing crazy shit... we did this thing called starfishing, we'd lie face down in supermarkets and make people walk over us. “We'd start playing around with zooming and subtitling and after a while I became good. I started getting paid for it about 3 years ago after realising I had great contacts in the YouTube world... we knew a lot of bodybuilders like Christian Guzman.” Sergi admits the motivational videos he has been paid to create often amuse him more than motivate him. “They often say something cheesy like “believe in your dreams” with some epic music in the background. They're videos to get the adrenaline pumping. Me and Jon will send skit ones to each other with intense special effects, we find it hilarious.”
If you're new to Sergi and his YouTube channel, one thing you must know is that he loves to be funny and has mastered a subtle, humorous form of online activism. “I make videos that are aimed at the general public and I include subliminal hints of veganism that trigger a thought. “For example, in the video 'FLYING BUSINESS CLASS FREE IN 5 STEPS ' I finish a sentence with the word period, and I show a PNG of a chicken egg. Non-vegans will likely wonder, “why did he say period and show a fried egg?!”” “They may just move on and ignore it but that thought will still be in their minds until they're reminded of it again. I couldn't do this without YouTube. YouTube opens up a door for people to protest in a different kind of way and for me is something that really saved me. I can reach a wider audience, people can share, even meat eaters, without knowing of these hints in my videos.” “I don't think vegan preachers are bad people, but they're unaware of the social repercussions. Most of them have 80% great content and the other 20% is so aggressive. “What I think is, over time, the more calm YouTubers are, the more effective.”