Who says being vegan is all about bright colors and rainbows? There are some who like gray clouds and cemeteries, and Nnaus O. Feratu of Goth in the Raw is one of them! Nnaus (they/them) is a multi-talented and enchanting entrepreneur, activist, chef, and content and recipe creator who showcases veganism with a dark side.
Learn more about their work vegan journey, cultural background, and likes and dislikes in our recent interview with them!
1. Where were you born and raised?
I was born in the United States in the state of Michigan. However, I spent the majority of my baby years in Nigeria, which is where my mum is from. My father is of West African/Ethiopian descent. My parents live in Georgia along with my siblings and aunts and uncles. My significant other and our two gothlings, ages 6 and 7, also live in Georgia. I have a large family in Nigeria and visit quite often. I have dual citizenship and my little ones do as well. I love my culture ever so much and love going back home.
2. What were your favorite foods growing up?
Oooooohhhhh, sooooo many foods! Jollof rice, plantains, fufu, egusi soup, suya (before I became vegan at the age of 16), puff puff and chin chin - these are my favorite Nigerian dishes. Other dishes that I loved growing up were sautéed brussel sprouts, Ethiopian food and soul food. I also had a bit of a sweet tooth, I still do actually (laughing). I loved cheesecake, apple pie, ice cream, and donuts. The beautiful thing is that I can eat any one of these as vegan versions. Like we say, "Anything you can eat, I can eat vegan."
3. How did your platform begin?
Veganism is for everyone - not just one race, gender or class. It was not until 2015, when I started Goth In The Raw per the nudging of my beloved spouse Matthieu, that I was able to show people veganism in a different style. I have been Goth since I was 12 (a Baby Bat, as we in the Goth Community say for those that are young in the subculture). While most vegans like bright colors and rainbows, I like grey clouds and cemeteries and taxidermy and séances - and that is okay! Vegans do not come cookie cutter.....they are not meant to be.
Veganism is about the planet, the animals, the environment, and more - not about what a vegan looks like. My creations are a representation of me in every way. I have been fortunate to work with NetflixFoods and movie studios for collaborative projects. Veganism in the Alt/Goth subculture is huge and I am glad that I not only get to represent the Goth subculture as a vegan, but also my pride in being Igbo-Nigerian and queer. Representation matters in all facets.
4. What do you do outside of your personal and professional work?
I am fortunate enough to be a mum to my beautiful gothlings: Opara Eze (Prince) Amaoha Kama Alucard - 7 years old and Opara Eze (Prince) Ikenna Nwosa Draven - 6 years old, with my soulmate of 10 years and their dad, Matthieu. We love spending time with our little ones watching movies, baking vegan treats, playing games, playing video games, taking walks, brunching in the cemetery, drawing, playing African instruments and other instruments (guitar, KORG, drums, bass, piano....it is like a recording studio lol), dancing to Goth music, Nigerian music, and alternative music - enjoying anything and everything.
I, myself, love to sing/write and record music. I also love to dance and sit outside at night underneath moonlight with my love and have a glass of wine once our littles have gone to sleep. Traveling is another thing that I greatly enjoy! Be it traveling within the US (New York City, Los Angeles, and Salem are a few of my favorite cities) or traveling to Nigeria to visit family - it is something I look forward to. I do so much professionally with my vegan beauty company (Haus of Abali), Goth In The Raw, my upcoming vegfest (VOTH Fest), my vegan makeup brand launching this October (Nnaus Feratu Cosmetics), and writing my first vegan cookbook - to find time to relax can be rarity. So, when I do, I love it ever so much.
5. What's your vegan story?
It began in 1997 when I was a sophomore in high school. My best friend of 20+ years since HS was vegan before I was. She had me try a soy milk drink and I was so shocked that it was not milk that I went and bought a supply from GNC. It was Strawberry Spiru-Tein. That immediately led to me doing my own research and going vegetarian. Now, I am also Igbo-Nigerian and in my culture, meats in some dishes are a staple although it is not a must. My family thought that was going to be a phase - but 23 years and counting, I am vegan-strong.
After going to a rock concert of one of my favorite bands (in which members happen to be vegan and animal activists), I noticed a commotion at their merch table. Girls were covering their mouths and turning away and leaving - I was like, "Uhm, it is just band tees and stickers....what are they freaking out about?". When I reached the table, I noticed that there was a vi