Meet the Vegan Hacktivists: Team Leader Weiyena Wei
This month, we had the pleasure of chatting with Wei, team leader of Team Mango. Wei’s team is the creative force behind the branding and design of all VH projects. Read on to get to know Wei and find out more about her life inside and outside of work.
How did you learn about Vegan Hacktivists, and what inspired you to join?
I connected with the founder, David, online after seeing the inspiring work the Vegan Hacktivists are doing to support the movement. I was inspired by the number of impactful projects that the team is working on and decided to reach out to get involved. I thought it would be great to use my skills to support VH as I was inspired by their mission.
What do you enjoy the most about being part of the VH team?
I like how everyone is so passionate about the projects and willing to support each other to support the animals. I am sure that if I ever need any help then different people in the team will reach out to offer their advice. I also think diversity is important so it’s nice that we all have different skills, experiences, perspectives, and knowledge to bring to the team.
Can you give us a hint about the next project that you’ll be starting?
I will be working on some designs for Animal Place which is one of the oldest and largest sanctuaries for farmed animals in the US. Outside of VH, I am continuing to develop my company Asearth and ultimately working with clients to develop sustainability and animal rights globally. Some of these projects include elephant conservation in Africa and sea turtle conservation in Costa Rica.
What kind of professional work do you do outside of the Vegan Hacktivists?
I do branding and Visual Identity System Design (VIS) work. This includes projects like social media campaigns for documentaries (such as Seaspiracy and Milked), website design for startups (Figma, mostly on Wix and WordPress), document design and prints (like brochures, flyers, posters, and book cover designs), and illustration and art for organizations, books, magazines, and websites.
All my work focuses on conservation, sustainability, and veganism.
I studied visual communication (4 years undergraduate and 1-year master's) specifically in professional graphic design and illustration. So, personally, I am more confident in graphic work than in UI/UX.
Can you tell us more about your project, asearth.org?
Asearth is the organization I founded with my partner that creates sustainable impact through storytelling, partnerships, marketing, and design. It was founded to preserve the natural world and support livelihoods. We aim to inspire millions of people to protect nature and develop sustainable projects that support animals and the environment.
For example, one of our previous clients is OceanHero: a search engine that has helped collect 27 million plastic bottles from the beach and ocean. Our current client, BeachToken, uses a percentage of every transaction to fund ocean regeneration and climate action. They’ve collected 50,000kg of plastic so far!
You’ve been a TV presenter, a model, and a bar singer! What was that like, and can you share any stories?
That was about four years ago in Shenzhen, China, as my part-time job during university to support my living. I was a TV presenter in Shenzhen and my job was to interview people on the topics of holidays, love and relationships, fashion, and art.
I had a band in China and was a bar singer for nearly two years. Singing and music have always been my passion! I was a model for fashion, promotional videos, and drama series. I am still a part-time model now, but I only do it when I have spare time, or for projects that interest me.
What’s your go-to song? What are you listening to most right now?
Whitney Houston is my biggest influence, so basically all of her songs! I have been loving Japanese music a lot recently.
How long have you been vegan and what made you go vegan?
I went vegan around the end of March 2020 when I met my partner. I always loved pigs and animals growing up, but when I met him, he asked me questions that no one had asked me before which made me realize the harm I was doing by eating animals. After doing some more research and watching videos I became more passionate about veganism, and now I try to share it with other people.
What were some of the most thought-provoking questions that your partner asked you?
Growing up, I always loved animals (especially pigs), but I had never met a pig and I didn’t think too much about the process of how meat is made or where it comes from. While I was studying for my master’s in the UK, my partner said, “I love animals too, that’s why I don't eat them.” That instantly made me question the beliefs that I held as an individual and made me go vegan straight away. So I became a vegan on the first day we met! Other questions revolved around my love for pigs and if people love animals, how can they kill them?
Can you share the names of some videos or resources that you found most helpful in your early research of veganism?
While China has the biggest population in the world, it doesn’t have too many resources to learn about animal rights and veganism. I started to learn more by working for the NARD11 (National Animal Rights Day) campaign last year, which reached 75 countries globally. Some videos like “Inside the Slaughterhouse” and “Toxicity Testing On Animals” had a really strong impression on me. I made over 15 illustrations and pieces of art about this shocking footage to help educate others and spread the facts.
Two clients I have been working with recently, Seaspiracy and Milked, have inspired me to do more research into these areas. Generally, I research topics online that I find interesting.
Where you currently live, are there any delicious local vegan delicacies that we should know about?
I’m currently based in Cozumel, Mexico—and Costa Rica every 6 months. There’s so much good vegan food here! Vegan tacos are super local and delicious, and the best vegan chocolate and coffee I’ve ever found are here on the island where I live. There’s also authentic Chinese food made by a native Chinese couple who have lived here for 10 years, great vegan Indian food, and of course American-style junk food that’s also vegan!
That all sounds delicious! Let’s finish up with some quick fun facts about yourself. Complete the following sentences:
The most beautiful place I've ever visited was… Uvita, Costa Rica.
I could never get sick of… pigeons.
All animals are great, but my favorite is the… pig!
My dream vacation is… Costa Rica.
My biggest pet peeve is… people gossiping.
Thank you so much for your time, Wei!