The Vegan Trap Queens take Thailand [Interview 01 - Eboni & Michele]

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I had the pleasure of meeting Eboni and Michele on their trip to Kuala Lumpur, thanks to BlackPackers, a Southeast Asia-based community for travelers of color. We connected immediately over our shared Washington, DC roots and became fast friends -- having a grand time reveling in our magic together in Malaysia, Cambodia, and Thailand throughout the last several months.

Also known as the Vegan Trap Queens, Eboni and Michele are about as authentic as it gets. I love them for being so in tune with who they are and what they want to achieve -- and absolutely unapologetic. Their vegan soul food is the BOMB, too, and it sells out any time they cater an event in Chiang Mai (just ask around, the city LOVES them too).

Let’s get to know a little more about the great things they stand for:

LN: If you had 1 minute to tell your story -- what led you to this point and where you're headed from here -- how would you tell it?

E&M: In two words: Sandra Bland.  After her murder we made the decision to leave the states, permanently.  We both love and have experience working with kids so teaching was the best option to keep getting money while we traveled and figured out our next move.  We were still teaching when us hosting dinners so our friends could eat more vegan food turned into the Vegan Traphouse.  We had our first events at CM Friends Guesthouse in August and since then people keep requesting us to cater their events.  We want to do more private events and cooking classes and also more pop-ups in other cities and countries.  Our cookbook, The Traphouse Vegan, is a vegan lifestyle guide and will be out early 2018.  We’re moving full speed ahead basically.

 

What made you transition from teaching English to running a vegan soul food business?

Honestly we just got too busy.  We were definitely doing both to keep the bills paid but we were burning the candle at both ends.  It wasn’t healthy for either of us so we had to make a decision about what was most important; either it was developing our business or teaching English.  We decided that investing our time and energy in our own success was well worth it and we haven’t regretted that decision.  It’s been overwhelming and nerve wracking at times but overall amazing.

 

What are some of the wellness routines you've established to care for the mind, body, and/or soul since establishing your lives in Chiang Mai? 

Other than Thai massage lol?  We try to make sure we get plenty of rest and stay hydrated.  Those are the simplest and most important parts of self-care.  We try to eat more raw food and do yoga a few times a week.  We watch less TV and are working on decreasing our time on social media. We definitely keep oils for pain and stress relief on deck!  We’re also very deliberate with how and whom we spend our time.  We protect our energy.

 

Why Chiang Mai? How long have you lived there now and what do you love most about the city?

Initially we came to Chiang Mai for the food lol.  We’ve since discovered more to love though.  We’ve lived in Chiang Mai since March of 2017.  It’s cheap, easy to walk around and there is always so much going on.  There is literally something for everybody.  We also genuinely love that the idea of community actually manifests itself here.


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Vegan Traphouse is a burgeoning international social enterprise run by Eboni Washington, a former teacher from Bronx, NY and Michele Simmons, a former counselor from Washington, DC.  Michele has been vegetarian for over a decade, and both she and Eboni have been vegan for two years.  They’re wholly dedicated to social and spiritual uplift in all communities.  "Our goal is for Vegan Traphouse to be a catalyst for positive transformation through food, community activism, and culture.  Our pop up catering business specializes in vegan, soy and gluten free authentic soul food as well as chemical free, plant based skin and hair care products."