In part two we talk about Ed Templeton’s introduction to Veganism and more about his latest skate shoe on Emerica, a limited edition all Vegan mid-top, The Tempster. We start with another sneak peek of the shoe which comes in black and green. -Mr.Fakie —————————————————————————————————————-
Mr. Fakie: Jenkem (magazine) had an article talking about the influence of main stream shoe corporations like Nike and Adidas moving into the skateboard industry. Even Vans is partnered with a private capital investment firm. Eric Koston said he would never skate for Nike, but he changed his mind when he saw how much they started investing in skateboarding.
Ed Templeton: It’s a hard place for me. A couple of people I grew up with in Huntington Beach, Jamie Hart and Justin Regan, are team managers for Vans now. I’m not anti-Vans. I know Vans is putting lots of money into the skateboarding industry. But with Nike, when skateboarding isn’t hot anymore, is there someone high up in the corporate tree who came from skateboarding who will make the decision to keep going? To not cut the team to the curb? That’s the thing that scares me. It’s pure scheme and marketing. Nike did not come into skateboarding for fun and the love of skating, they came for money. With a company like Nike, profits are the bottom line. Basically what has happened is that companies like Nike have skillfully taken market share from companies like Emerica, which are skater owned and have had a hard time in the market since the crash of 2008. That’s my only complaint, really. [Just that] I would rather see skater-owned shoe companies doing better. But Nike did it, they bought in, got the big name pros and people followed. I’m not including Vans in this, they’ve had their hand in skateboarding since the beginning of their company. But Nike clearly made a choice to go in there and take this. Who can fault Eric Koston for making millions of dollars? I came from a point when making big money off skateboarding was kind of a pipe dream, so I can’t blame anyone for taking the short time in their life when they can be a valid pro and maximizing the money they [can] make. A lot of these guys never said anything in the first place. They never took a stand one way or the other. But you said there was a Koston interview where he claimed would never ride for Nike? Then I guess he can be called out for it. His move ushered in this new market. Maybe it was inevitable. If Koston didn’t do it there would be skaters lining up for the Nike money. It’s like with veganism – Geoff Rowley was vegan for a long time and he didn’t say much publicly about it, so when he started eating meat and did a leather shoe, he was like “This is what I do, this is personal and no one knows.” But for me on the other hand, I’ve been so outspoken about it. If I were to come out with a leather shoe, I’d feel like a sellout.
MF: We get a lot of email and questions asking about synthetic leather shoes. With your shoe, the Tempster; you went for 20 oz. canvas instead of synthetic leather. Was that a choice made by the designers, or did you have a hand in that one?
ET: That was me. When I say they designed it, I mean just the shape. Emerica offers me a style of shoe to come in and go crazy on. I pick the materials, colors and all the other parts of it, down to the box artwork. I chose the thick canvas. I’ve used synthetic leather before but for this one, I just wanted the canvas look. It was an aesthetic choice.
MF: There are a lot of canvas skateboard shoes. We post them on the Blog all the time. With Emerica, for a long time there would be a synthetic leather model which was our vegan option. I know the Heritics were like that and you’ve used synthetics. Over at éS and Etnies they’d have that, too, but now most of the shoes marketed as vegan are only canvas. Do you have any insight on that?
ET: I think it’s just happenstance. There may be an aspect where the canvas is cheaper than synthetics. I think the synthetics come from overseas and the shipping costs are high, but it’s probably just a style thing. There are thicker canvases now and they look cool so people are using those more. What’s cool about that is they’re not doing it to sell to vegans, but it helps vegans. We’re the ones nerding out and digging down to find out what materials are being used and seeing if it works for us. New Balance and Nike have a bunch of shoes that are all synthetic by chance. I go to the store to look at running shoes and some are all synthetic. Sometimes it’s done for weight – they certainly don’t give a fuck about animal rights – but it benefits us for sure.
MF: Let’s talk about vegan stuff. We can start with a joke, “How do you know if someone is vegan?”
ET: (chuckling) No idea.
MF: “Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.”
ET: It’s interesting. I have a personal policy of not mentioning veganism until asked, when I say I’m outspoken it’s because people keep ask me about it! I won’t bring it up in conversations or interviews unless I’m asked directly about it. I’m more than happy to talk about it if someone asks me, but I won’t bring it up myself.
I think the reason that joke is funny because for many people, veganism is what defines them. For me, it’s just how I eat. It’s pretty simple and basic. It’s not a religion or a way of life, it’s just a choice. It’s not what defines me. I’m a skateboarder and an artist, I do a lot of stuff. Eating vegan is just a part of it. I believe that leading by example is much more powerful than preaching about it.
If you preach about it, it’s a turn off. I’ve seen this with team riders. I don’t say anything to them and a year goes by and they start asking questions. It’s interesting to see what they ask me and I’ll give them the answer to see them go, “Oh. That’s interesting.” It’s way better than me going, “Oh. You’re hurting animals. you’re being lame.” That kind of stuff is a turn off.
I feel like I provide much more of a positive influence by just doing what I do. A lot of kids come up to me at Toy Machine demos and say, “Oh, you’ve skated so long. Is that because you’re vegan?” I’m always the first person on the course and the last person off. I’ve always had good energy. Maybe it’s from eating healthy. So I think that’s a good answer.
MF: (chuckling) That was a joke, not really a question.
ET: But it does bring up a really good point. I don’t want to be the “vegan police.” I’ve been around vegans and I dislike the “vegan police” guys. They’re always talking about it and harping about it, making a scene.
Regardless, though, it’s tough. If I’m at restaurant or something with a bunch of people, I’m the guy asking 20 questions and holding up the order. It gets ridiculous. And I know the guys with me are rolling their eyes and going, “Fuckin’ vegans…” It’s just something you have to deal with.
MF: You mentioned Rowley before and how veganism was a personal thing with him. Jamie Thomas and Mike Vallely were both outspoken about animal rights and veganism. Jamie Thomas skated a rail barefoot for an Emerica Ad for vegan shoes, and Mike V. had that infamous Barn Yard deck on World Industries. Both of those guys were also pretty close with you and both aren’t vegan anymore. Does that bum you out?
ET: Bummed out is harsh way to put it. I don’t know. I think it’s an interesting thing to talk about. My veganism stems from Mike Vallely. He was the person, he and Christian Kline, a photographer at PowerEdge Magazine, were my good friends at the time would take me out to dinner and say, “We’ll buy dinner for you if you don’t order meat.” I remember being totally bummed out about that and thinking, “I can’t get the Kung Pow chicken, this sucks.” Then I read some pamphlets and discovered how it was made. I think it takes a weird person to know that and then keep eating it. As I read that stuff, it hit me and I instantly went vegetarian.Then a year later went vegan. I read more information because I was interested, the floodgates opened and there was no turning back. I had these conversations back in the day with Mike V. asking, “Who could know all this, be vegan and go back?” I’ve had these conversations with Jamie Thomas, too. Both guys have since gone past it. The question is, “Am I bummed on them?”
I don’t have a flag flying for veganism in that respect, so they’re not disappointing me. I think it’s kind of crazy that they’re putting it in their mouths when they’ve read all about this. So it’s a little crazy to me, but it’s their personal decision. I want to live my life and not be told what to do so I’m not going to tell them what to do. It’s weird.
After a bunch of years went by, I went on a trip to South Africa with Mike V. and I knew he was starting to eat meat. One night, in the hotel, he felt like he wanted to talk to me about it. So he was like, “I’m sick of it. I feel like it’s running my life. I only live once and I don’t want to live by this set of rules.” He found it constricting. He felt like there’s always a different level. Veganism and then raw and then airitarian. [He said], “I don’t know where it ends when you’re trying to live by a strict code so fuck it.” And that was his thing. I didn’t agree with him but I thought it was interesting to discuss it. That’s the fun part of knowing someone for a long time, having these discussions and not turning it into an enemy thing or a fight. And it’s cool if that’s what you want to do. We’re adults.
With Jamie Thomas it was a similar thing. He was doing Zero and we didn’t have as much time to talk. I got this call from Jamie, and he said, “I just got this call from my doctor and he said I should eat meat. What should I do?” For him, it was a health thing. He felt like he was having blurred vision and having problems skating. In clutch situations, when he was skating a rail, he said his body would change. He went to a doctor about this problem and his doctor suggested that he should eat meat. So he called me with this dilemma, like, “What would people think? I’ve been so outspoken about this.” I think I helped him because I asked, “What’s more important to you? Your veganism or skateboarding? I think it’s skateboarding. It’s your career. I think it takes precedent here.It’s most important to keep your health to make your skating work. That’s more important. Who can complain about that? It’s your life and I’m not going to be pissed at you.” I’d say, “You know how the meat’s made. You make enough money. You can afford free range beef or whatever.You know all this stuff so you can minimize the impact.” Of course I know he eats at McDonald’s and all that stuff now.
I think people need to live their lives. I’m not the vegan police. For me, I can’t go back. Let me put this on the table, too. I had this talk with Thomas Campbell, he’s an artist, and he read this book about blood types. He’s been vegetarian since birth and had health problems like being lethargic. He started eating fish and meat and his body instantly changed. I feel like we’re omnivores, humans are. Like dogs, we can eat meat and vegetables and it won’t necessarily affect us. Maybe over the long term it might depending on how bad you eat but I think there is some truth to the whole blood type thing. I think in the human realm some can adapt better than others.
In the mammal world, a cat isn’t like a dog. Everything is geared towards eating meat. The eyes, ears, claws and teeth. It’s a carnivorous animal, whereas a dog and a human are able to eat garbage and survive. On the other hand, you have a cow who can’t eat meat. It’s geared to only eat plants. I haven’t read up on this and who knows but I feel like there’s a range of human where some don’t function as well eating vegan. There’s a lot of dietary things. I know when I started, my first year was terrible. I was eating vegetarian then vegan and I would eat the same junk without the meat, so I wasn’t getting anything health-wise. I’d go to Wendy’s and get a burger without the meat patty. Just eating the bread, cheese, ketchup and iceberg lettuce. It isn’t doing anything for you.
I quickly learned how to eat a regular diet with greens, a variety of fruits, vegetables and beans. The parts who people who aren’t vegan find baffling that it’s even an option. I don’t know what I’m exactly saying but some people function better as a vegan than not. Look at me, I’ve felt great since day one. Since I broke my leg, I’ve had a lot of people saying, “That’s ‘cause you’re a vegan! Look at this shit. You’re vegan so you have weak bones.” How does that explain 21 years of not breaking a bone? I’ve broken some things in my life but it’s so minimal. I’ve never broken a whole bone. I’ve had cracks in stuff but I’ve never had anything major.
MF: You’re also 40 years old.
ET: And that’s the reason! I had a little debate on Instagram with some people. I put the photo up and they were like, “It’s because you’re vegan.” I’ve been vegan since ’91. 20 + years of being vegan. So since day one all of the skateboarding you’ve seen me do on video is as a vegan. This is my first compound fracture ever, at age 40. I don’t skate as much as I used to and I show up at a demo and try to do all the tricks I’ve always done. I felt weird that day too. I should have listened to my body and just taken it easy, but you can’t take it easy when everyone is skating and there are kids there expecting you to rip. That’s why I broke my leg. Not because I’m vegan. It has nothing to do with veganism at all.
MF: I want to talk about another relationship in your life. Deanna is vegan, right?
ET: Yeah. We did the whole thing together.
MF: Describe the transition for you two.
ET: I’m pretty sure it was simultaneous. Deanna and I went on a tour with Mike V and his wife, Ann. Mike and Ann were both vegan and we learned a lot of stuff from them, so we decided we’d go vegan for the month long tour. We did it, we were vegan for the whole tour. Everything was fine and easy. We came back and I was like, “The tour is over, I don’t have to be vegan now.” so I busted open a bag of Cheetos and ate one and it tasted so gross. I thought to myself, “Why am I eating this crap? This fluorescent orange food?” I realized that I felt so much better and that was the decision point. That’s when I became vegan.
I think Deanna after the tour had a weird Cinnabon breakdown but that was it for her, too. I think it’s the same thing. She ate the Cinnabon and was like, “Oh, it’s so heavy!” Yeah, we just went for it from there. We just stayed vegan.
MF: That’s rad. You have a blog together, We Like to Eat Vegan.
ET: It’s a little half-assed in a way. We don’t keep up with it. I haven’t posted on it in a while. I wish we’d started it earlier. We get to travel a lot through skateboarding and art stuff and as vegans we have to do all the research as to find vegan restaurants in different countries. We were thinking, “Who gets to do this?” We felt lucky, and wanted to share the fruits of the research. We have all this information and that was the idea. We shoot photos and blog it so it can be a helpful resource for people who go on trips. But when we started to do it, sites like the Happy Cow or Quarry Girl started doing it in a better way than we did it. I have a huge backlog that I haven’t sat down and done. Either way, it’s there for people to use.
MF: Were there any places you visited that you were surprised that were super vegan friendly?
ET: Yeah. The amazing part about this whole thing has been watching the transformation of the whole world before my eyes. I feel proud to be a part of that mini-revolution happening. When I went vegan there was nothing, now there’s imitation everything! One example, there was no good soy milk in the beginning. How long have you been vegan?
MF: 16 years.
ET: Do you remember when soy milk tasted like complete shit?
MF: Yeah, I still like the non-sweetened stuff for cooking but back then soy milk was like straight up bean juice.
ET: There was no vegan ice cream in the early days. Stretches of the US were the worst on long tours. Jamie Thomas and I, in the early days on the Toy tours, brought coolers that we’d keep in the front of the seat and when we hit a city with a health food store, we’d stock up because we knew going through Texas, we were fucked. We’d have mustard and fake turkey slices ready to go. Now things have changed. Being vegan is much easier, and healthier food can be found anywhere. My mini protest by going vegan, along with thousands of others who had already been vegan, and the people who went vegan after me have helped usher in this change. The only thing companies listen to is dollars. I was just one person who said, “I’m not putting my dollars into this stuff, I’m only putting my dollars in this vegan stuff.” When millions of others do the same, the markets respond. Now there’s great ice cream and great soy milk. Everything you can dream about is made vegan now. That’s something that has transformed over the years. I did my little part, my little sacrifice made a point. I use that example to show people that it can work in other ways. Obviously if we stop buying shoes from non-skater owned companies and start buying shoes from skater owned companies, things will look better for Emerica!
MF: (laughing) Yeah. I’ve been vegan since I was 15 years old and been going on skate trips since then. I saw Blind’s Video Days, took French and joined the French Club because they’d go to France every year. The first thing I did when we landed was put my board together and go to the Eiffel Tower because I want to skate in the fountains, but they were full of water.
ET: There was a really small window for that.
MF: I was so bummed. I was told by everybody, “You can’t be vegan in France.” And it was total bullshit. Every time I’ve been back Europe it’s been awesome.
ET: Everywhere has vegetables. It’s crazy when people say that. Yeah, you can’t be vegan the way you are in LA or New York and get a fancy fake meat cutlet, but the basics are everywhere.
I was surprised by Norway. Norway was the hardest place I’ve been to. This was a long time ago in ’95 or ’96, but there was literally nothing in Norway. We couldn’t find a health food store or a restaurant that didn’t have something without butter in it. I’d ask if they could just make us plain rice because all the pastas were fresh and had eggs in them. It was kinda crazy. Another surprising thing is how bad Amsterdam is for vegans. With all the weed and hippie-ish stuff, you’d think there would be a lot of forward thinking people but there’s not. They have good health food stores, but the vegetarian restaurants there aren’t so vegan friendly. We went to one of the bigger ones and they didn’t even have soy milk.
Then there’s Berlin. It’s exploding with vegan food. Vegan donut shops and stuff. There’s a fake McDonald’s there that has fake golden arches that’s all vegan. There are some crazy good restaurants there. There are gourmet vegan restaurants in Berlin. It’s surprising when you get to Gent, Belgium. It’s a small town, but surprisingly there are three really good vegan places there. I did some blog posts while I was there. Glasgow is another one…
MF: 78, Mono and Stereo? Did you go to all those?
ET: Yes! Really, really good vegan food. Those places are amazing. We got there and were blown away at the quality of the food.
MF: Where are the devil cat socks?
ET: We thought about it. It’s kind of hard. Certain characters don’t translate. I just wanted to mention something about Emerica and the vegan issue since this is the Vegan Skate Blog. I’ve been so stoked over the years to get to work with Emerica. When they initially approached me about doing a shoe, I told them I was vegan and that I’m not going to make leather shoes. I’m stoked that they were always down and respected that and worked with me all these years and never stressed, and never asked me to do a leather shoe. I’m just so happy to have this relationship and ride for this company. We even did a collaboration shoe with the band No Age. (Randy and Dean from NoAge are vegans.) They embrace my veganism and reach out to people like you to promote it. It’s a valid marketing tool because there’s people out there who want to buy vegan shoes so why not say it? I’m just so stoked that they’ve had my back and I didn’t have to miss out on anything because I’m vegan.