Emmerdale's James Moore on the challenges and rewards of veganism
James Moore is an award-winning soap star, famed for his role as Ryan Stocks on Emmerdale, who uses his platform to advocate for disability representation in the media. James has cerebral palsy with ataxic symptoms, and in 2016, directed a short film on YouTube called Spaghetti Legs, which is a satirical take on what it’s like to be disabled and the way people communicate with disabled people. James is also a passionate vegan and has been an ambassador for Veganuary since 2020.
V-Land UK (V-L): Hi James, thank you so much for agreeing to be interviewed! How long have you been vegan for?
James Moore (JM): Thank you - I've been vegan for five years.
V-L: What inspired you to adapt to a vegan lifestyle?
JM: A friend of mine was vegan, and I was interested, so he recommended I watch a documentary called Earthlings, and that changed my perspective on the way I viewed animal consumption.
V-L: As a vocal advocate for disability representation, how did it feel to represent a character with a disability on a mainstream television show?
JM: Although they didn't base the character on me, I feel like me and Ryan have a lot of similar attributes, which helped me understand their vision of the character and develop it from there.
V-L: Do you receive any negativity for your role on Emmerdale, and if so, how does it compare to any negativity you may receive for being vegan?
JM: I have received negativity online, but it mainly comes in the form of ableist comments about my voice, or the way I walk, or even my long hair. Thankfully, these comments are few and far between, and I think now people are a lot more used to my character, so it isn't a big deal anymore.
V-L: As vegans, we can be naturally very empathic, but do you think that living with a disability makes you even more empathetic?
JM: Perhaps, because I feel like I'm more able to relate to people's struggles, but I think it's all relative. Regardless of whether you're disabled or vegan, I think empathy is something that's going to come from you and your personality, not necessarily your lifestyle choices.
V-L: What have you struggled with the most in relation to being vegan, eating vegan food, and the perceptions of those around you?
JM: Honestly, the biggest struggle at the beginning, was finding out what I could and couldn't eat! There is so much stuff that has milk in that you wouldn't think does, so adapting to that was difficult. My family were really accepting and began helping me find vegan food and cooking more vegan options, and even trying more vegan alternatives themselves!
V-L: Where are some of your favourite vegan places to eat? Do you ever struggle to source vegan food? What is the catering like on-set, and does it accommodate different diets? Or do you struggle to find vegan food?
JM: I love going to Oowee in Bristol. It's a great vegan junk food restaurant with loads of amazing burgers, loaded fries, etc. Sometimes it can be a struggle to find vegan food, depending on where I am, and what I'm doing. But I use the HappyCow app when I'm visiting a new location and a lot of the time that really helps with finding places.
V-L: What do you think we can do as a society to challenge the perceptions of people who don't necessarily support veganism, or refuse to acknowledge the practices that take place across the world?
JM: Different methods are going to affect people in different ways. Some people could be turned to veganism by the realisation of how barbaric the meat and dairy industry is, but you're not going to reach everyone that way. Some people may be persuaded by the idea that eating a well-balanced, vegan diet is actually very good for your health, especially when you consider how much disease meat can cause. Also, I feel like no one ever talks about it, but when you become vegan, you really reduce your risk of food poisoning, because most food poisoning will happen as a result of bacteria from meat and dairy products. It's still possible, but the risk is a lot less.
If you enjoyed this article, check out our article on the Equality Act 2010 and vegan rights at work, or if health is more your thing, check out our article on whether a plant-based diet can help keep Crohn’s disease in remission.