Interview: Amit Gupta! »
We love Amit Gupta. Like, hearts and stars love. The kind of love you would kill a man for. That’s how we love Amit Gupta. He is a vegetarian entrepreneur…do you really need to know anything else? Any veggies out there who get out of bed everyday with the intent of kicking that day’s ass in a variety of ways are good by us. To elaborate, he started Jelly and organized the first two NYC BarCamps. He’s also a giver. He worked with Seth Godin to start a non-profit called ChangeThis. See how he gives back?? What a giver! He currently runs Photojojo, it’s about photography and is a site that is truly helpful to anyone who has ever taken a photo. You must subscribe. He lives in San Francisco, right down the block from Vegansaurus HQ and we occassionally get to bask in his awesomeness. It is a delight. He takes photos, twitters, and sometimes blogs. Oh he also tumbles. WHAT DOES THIS GUY NOT DO HE IS TRYING TO TAKE OVER THE INTERNETWORLD? Oh well, we can’t think of a nicer internetbro to do this. GO FORTH AND CONQUER WITH YOUR BAD VEGETARIAN SELF, SUPERAMIT. Read this interview to learn about dinosaurs, bunnies, and what the next big veg business idea is. DO IT.
How long have you been vegetarian?
Since I was born. 1,000 years ago.
Are you vegetarian for health, environmental, animal rights reasons, or a combination?
I’ve never had meat (as far as I know) and I don’t see a good reason to switch. Animals seem pretty cute and furry and why would you want to kill them anyway? But when we can finally grow hamburgers and steaks and stuff in meat production vats, I’ll probably eat tons of that shit. I hear it’s hella tasty. Srsly. I CANNOT WAIT FOR THE MEAT VATS.
What is your favorite animal?
Do you have any super cute photos of animals to share with us? I mean, you’re really into photography, right?
Duh, yes. I hear you’re into bunnies. So here’s some photos of bunnies! (I took them while visiting my brother when he was working at a wildlife rescue and rehab non-profit in Texas.) [Ed.: THOSE BUNNIES ARE SO HELLA CUTE]
Favorite vegan food to make?
This amazing veggie pot pie.
I used to cook all the time when I lived in the zü (a co-op in college) but I never cook anymore, because I just steal pies from NATALIE “GALETTE” GALATZER.
Favorite vegan dish at a restaurant/fave vegan restaurant?
Whatever’s being served that day at Strictly Roots in Harlem. The drumsticks at Red Bamboo in Greenwich Village (amazing veggie soul food) — fried breaded soy protein wrapped around raw sugarcane. But seriously, how can you not want to eat every single thing on this menu? [Ed.: WE LOVE RED BAMBOO! And also, strongly endorse VP2 next door which got Vegansaur Laura through college. Well, that and cheating.]
You travel a lot for work. Based on food options alone, which is your favorite city to travel to?
Did I mention the Vegetarian Dim Sum House? I didn’t think it was possible to have so many vegetarian turnip cakes in one sitting that you actually didn’t like them anymore, but it is. So don’t have that many. [Ed.: WE ALSO LOVE VEGETARIAN DIM SUM HOUSE. <3 Turnip Cakes <3 and <3 Coriander Ham Rolls <3! If you love the Turnip Cakes there, have you tried the ones from Big Lantern in SF? They have delicious Turnip Cakes with chunks of meatless chicken! They are on the Dim Sum menu! Not quite as delicious but some of us have NEEDS.]
Do you have one food photography tip to share?
The more photos you take the more likely one of them won’t suck. And I heard they use Elmer’s glue in place of milk when photographing cereal.
You start and contribute to a lot of businesses. Do you have any entrepreneurial tips to share?
Pick something you really want to make happen and just start working on it right now. Don’t wait for the right time or the right opportunity or the right anything else because if you wait it’ll just be too late.
If you were gonna start a veg-centric business right now, what would it be?
I think it’d be cool to make a veggie or vegan recipe translator. Like Google’s translation, you’d give it a URL, and it’d feed you back the same page, but instead of making all the Japanese into broken English, it’d turn a regular recipe into a vegetarian one, or a vegan one. It’d have to be smart enough that it wasn’t doing straight-up substitutions but looking at what else was in it and trying to figure out what was being made, so it could make smart suggestions. Perhaps it’d have access to a library of recipes in meat and veggie versions to learn about the differences.
It’d be hardest with baked foods, but I bet it’d do an okay job with the rest… recipes are pretty structured as data goes. [Ed.: This is a fantastic idea! Who is on this!? Email us! We’d like to take credit/split royalties 80/20]
What project are you the most proud of?
I’m most proud of Photojojo… it’s the first time I started with my own money and built something slowly and sustainably. It’s got a long way to go, but it’s been really satisfying to see it grow. I took VC with my first company (and dropped out of college to start it) and while I’d consider it again, I think VC is kind of like pesticides. In the short term it’s great and your apples are all shiny and red, but in the long run unless you’re really lucky you’re probably giving your company cancer or something. Grow organic!
What exciting upcoming projects can we look forward to? Because we do look forward to them.
They’re secrets! But the next big launch is our new book [Ed.: BUY IT!!! But maybe wait for it to be in the Photojojo Store so
they make more money off you you can support them!], which hits bookstores on September 15th. (And we just recently found out we’ll be taping a bit on the CBS Early Show that day!)
Are you willing to have Vegansaurus over and cook us a vegan feast? If so, what day?
LAURA YOU SAID YOU WERE GOING TO COME OVER AND MAKE ME A DELICIOUS FAKE MEAT FEAST?! [Ed.: Soon! Promise!]
Any questions for Vegansaurus?
When can I buy a t-shirt? [Ed.: Soon! Promise!]
And when are you starting the SF Vegansaurus Vegan Street Meat Cart? [Ed.: Soon! Promise! errr….]
Thanks, Amit! These interviews with awesome veg people doing amazing things are part of our ongoing effort to bring you some hope in this miserable pit of a world. Check out our interviews with Minty Lewis and Sharon Troy of Veg Table too!