If there was a “How did you hear about us?” question after every new vegan restaurant I visit, product I buy, friend I make, or book I read, I would check “social media” nearly every time. And I’m not alone, which might explain why Natasha Minoso, the woman behind Instagram account Book Baristas, is experiencing a level of success she never could have imagined. As a social media influencer, Minoso—who’s vegan—uses online communication as a tool for connecting people with real-life ideas in a way that is more a stranger recommending books than someone blindly promoting things. Always authentic about her love of vegan ice cream and her career in the publishing industry, Minoso took time to speak with VegNews to explain her take on veganism and its role in the world of social media.
VegNews: You share so much on Book Baristas. Did you decide you wanted to share more about your life or did it come naturally?
Natasha Minoso: I had originally planned on remaining anonymous with my blog because the main idea was to promote great books, but after your personality and voice become a part of your brand, it just seemed fitting to add a face to the blog. A lot of people identify with my blog more now because there’s a real human behind it and not just a voice recommending books.
VN: How has your platform been an important tool for you?
NM: My platform has been the greatest networking tool because it’s allowed me to connect with people in every social sphere. To have the opportunity to create real-life connections because of this blog is mind-blowing to me. It’s the greatest conversation starter I didn’t realize I needed.
VN: What do you think social media’s role is in veganism?
NM: Social media is bringing awareness to veganism. It’s opening up a conversation and showing up on people’s radars. It’s allowing people the chance to become educated in a conversational way.
VN: Have you ever denied a collaboration with a brand because it wasn’t vegan?
NM: I’ve only been approached by one food brand (Naturebox), and they’ve got a ton of great vegan snacks. I’ve also collaborated with Things Remembered to give away faux-leather totes, which was awesome!
VN: Books about plant-based diets are everywhere today, and Penguin has published many of the top vegan sellers. How is veganism growing in the publishing industry?
NM: It’s growing steadily, which is something I love seeing! Every time I have book meetings and a new vegan book is mentioned, I am usually the first to squeal—and immediately demand a copy! It’s so great to see these books being published because it encourages readers of all ages to take control of their diets and see how accessible and life-changing plant-based diets can be.
VN: What’s the greatest reaction you get from your friends in the publishing industry to you being vegan?
NM: The greatest reaction is open-mindedness. The pure curiosity and willingness to learn about why and what it entails is what I love to hear from people who find out I’m vegan.
VN: Do you have a favorite book, documentary, or vegan social-media influencer?
NM: I love @melaniekaydavis_. She’s got a gorgeous feed of her life and vegan recipes. As for documentaries, I’d have to say Cowspiracy, although calling it a favorite is a bit extreme—I’d say it was the most enlightening doc I’ve seen to date.
VN: What’s the best advice you’ve gotten since becoming vegan?
NM: It’s important to remember why you started in the first place.
VN: What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve done for a post?
NM: I’ve had to become pretty shameless when taking photos because sometimes you’ve just got to do it for the ‘gram. It’s not atypical for me to stand on a chair in a busy New York café to take the perfect aerial shot of a coffee table. I think the closest I’ve been to being embarrassed was when I asked a woman next to me on a flight (who was also completely engrossed in whatever novel she was reading) if she wouldn’t mind me taking a photo of both of our books on our laps. She laughed it off, and we ended up talking about books for almost half the flight, which was pretty amazing.
VN: If you were a book, what chapter are you on?
NM: I’d hope to be in the prologue because I feel like I’ve only just started truly living.
Julia Helms is a vegan whose favorite titles are vegan cookbooks.