Bleat is a brand new vegan social media channel to indulge in some vegan recipes and quotes all day long! Started by Mike and Mathew, we found this really cool site via Two Vegan Girls as they did a one to one interview with one of the co-founder Mike on this exciting project. It just launched a day ago, so this site really has a long way more to take off but the idea behind this is so cool and we believe more people should learn about this and get bleating away! It is quite similar to pin-interest and the layout is clear and easy to navigate.

1. How would you describe Bleat to someone who hasn’t heard of it?

Bleat is essentially a social network for vegans, but with a lot of features geared towards helping people attain and maintain a healthy vegan lifestyle. Your standard social network tools, such as following, commenting, etc come as standard but with added functionality such as location based searching, enabling users to find restaurants, shops, hotels and even events wherever they search in the world. We’re also hoping to develop a really great recipe area of the site and an extensive market place, selling vegan only products from around the world. A part of the site i’m really keen to get off the ground is the campaign section, where people can upload and run their own campaigns, hopefully using the network to drum up more support for their cause.

2. Where did the idea for Bleat come from?

The idea came when I was travelling to Copenhagen for a short trip. I had never been to Copenhagen before and I was searching all over the internet to find places that I could eat, and anywhere that would be a must visit for a vegan. After a few hours of research I found the lovely Raw42 and it was one of my first stops on arrival. Somewhere along the line I was thinking that surely, someone before me had done the exact same search, had probably spent just as long doing so and they too also had that gem of local knowledge in their head. The sparking idea was to create a site where people could share their local knowledge of vegan shops, restaurants, hotels and upcoming events, close to where they live or have visited before. After a few months the plans grew to include recipes but it was when I sat down with Matthew that things really started to grow and we realised the potential of what we could do, for example the market place, events and campaign work.

3. One of the key features of Bleat is the ability to connect with vegans from across the globe.  Can you talk a little more about this feature?

Basically we have built a connection between location based searching and a social network. On sign up users enter their location, which maps them in our directory (NB: this can be switched off if users want privacy and we don’t disclose exact locations.) like other social networks people can then create profiles, upload any content they like, follow people, rate peoples articles, and make any comments they wish. Then also by simply clicking a button you can be taken to a page that displays all of the local vegan shops, restaurants, hotels, events and people that are in your area. You can also search other locations that you may be visiting just as simply.

4. For how long have you and Matthew been vegan?  Why is living a vegan lifestyle important to you?

It’s actually my 5 year veganniversary not long after we launch which i’m stoked about. Matthew has been vegan for 2 years after being vegetarian for 10 years. For me personally, living a vegan lifestyle is massively important. From a young age i’ve been heavily into to punk-rock and hardcore, which has taught me a lot of fundamental basics about having respect for yourself, others around you and standing up for what you believe in. I’ve never felt healthier, both mentally and physically since being vegan, i’m without doubt that animals should receive no different treatment than the way we treat others around us and i will always stand up for what i believe in and try to help the cause in the best way I can.

5. Your promo video references that the vegan community is growing every day.  What do you think are some of the drivers for this?

People are slowly waking up and thinking more about what they are putting in their body, and the affect that certain lifestyle choices they are making have on the environment. The internet is a great tool, it allows anyone with access to it to search for themselves and find out any information they want. It’s also a great tool for organisations to raise the awareness of the benefits of adopting a plant based lifestyle.

6.  How can people sign up to be part of Bleat?

At the moment the site is still closed and invite only, which we have been sending out in batches over recent weeks. We’re currently encouraging users to enter their email address at ble.at/coming-soon and when the site goes fully live we will email them to let them know. Sign up then will be really simple, with options to sign up using Facebook, Twitter or a good old fashioned email address. (Latest update: they launched their site on 1st of may 2013!)

7. What’s your vision for Bleat in the next 3-5 years?

My vision for Bleat is pretty big, but it all depends on how users react and engage with the site. There are many different things i’d like to bring to the site, mainly developing each section of the site to be the absolute best it can be, adding great functionality, teaming up with partner sites such as meetup and trip advisor. The market place is going to be a big part of the site too, which hopefully one day will allow users to create their own online store. Saying that, all of this is what I personally would like to add to the site, it’s not about me though, it’s about the users so what I think would be great, my be a total flop with users. Time will tell, but i’m really excited to see what happens and where this takes us.

8. Is there anything else that you’d like people to know about you both or about Bleat?
I’d love to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has spread the word, watched the video, liked our Facebook page or even just taken the time to read this. We’re supplying what we think is a great tool to hopefully move veganism a step further into the mainstream, but what it really needs to make it great is for users to sign up and fully embrace it by getting involved.

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