About You Big Talker
Eleni Vlachos is the host of the You Big Talker Talk (& Sketch) Show, writer at You Big Talker, drummer for Beloved Binge, 1/2 Greek, 1/8 filmmaker, and part-time employee of the Columbia University School of Social Work’s Social Intervention Group. She is (quarantined) in South Philly.
Eleni’s writing has appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer here, here, and here, and she has been featured in over 80 articles including the New York Times. She has spoken at over 100 universities with her documentary about food, her family, and our view of animals. She co-founded the Bull City Vegan Chef Challenge which went on to be adapted nationwide. She believes in infusing fun into activism.
Her most recent project, The You Big Talker Talk Show, featuring skits, guests, and commentary on Big Ag and beyond, is streaming on Youtube.
Below you will find press on Eleni Vlachos’ advocacy work, band, and film — if you are still reading, you will also find the inspiration for You Big Talker. Spoiler alert: Greece + Mediterranean port. See all press.
Articles written by the Talker
- The ‘meatless meat’ wars continue, now over food labels
- Why won’t McDonald’s go ‘beyond meat’ worldwide?
- Don’t yell at Grandma for the holidays – but you can turn down her food
- You Big Talker on Medium
Select articles about the Talker
- New York Times: In Harlem, a Home Without Wheels
- Independent Weekly: Interview with Beloved Binge before last show in Durham
- Charlotte Loafing: Beloved Binge of Connectivity
- News & Observer: Durham’s Eleni Vlachos making meatless mainstream
- Independent Weekly: Tour of Duty
- Independent Weekly: Vegan Thanksgiving Record Party
- Independent Weekly: On the Documentary, Seeing Through the Fence
More about Beloved Binge
More on Eleni’s documentary Seeing Through the Fence
Eleni screened Seeing through the Fence at over 100 universities across the USA in 2008-9, speaking to college audiences about the role of animals in our society. Here are a few of the 25+ articles that resulted:
Community Work … with community
Eleni co-founded the Bull City Vegan Chef Challenge in 2010, and led subsequent month-long challenges in 2012, 2014, and 2016. Read more about the Challenge here.
- Active in new South Philly neighborhood: A landowner who’s an ally, not a bully? In Philly? November 2018
- Co-organized Triangle Meatless Monday & the Bull City Vegan (Chef) Challenge in NC
- Was active in the Cleveland Holloway neighborhood (helped organize, mobilize; 2007 “neighborhood hero” – pdf) in Durham, NC
- Co-hosted three annual music festivals – Duo-fest III write-up, in Durham NC
- Selected as “Humane Hero of the Year” by the Humane League, January 2016, NC
Inspiration for You Big Talker
In 2015, I realized mantras were not complete BS. I discovered mine was (drumroll) … fun. That’s right.
Does this sound a bit frivolous, or uncaring, in a world filled with agony and suffering?
“Fun” has been my approach to finding meaning, whether creating music, writing, reading, working to reduce suffering of factory farmed animals, or engaging community. It is, after all, the opposite of suffering. I want to create more fun in the world.
So what is You Big Talker?
To be honest, I struggled to find a “tagline” short enough to describe this site and, more importantly, why you would want to visit. The best two I came up with:
- An attempt to live a worthwhile life by exploring things that matter most – cool stuff to read, see, review, and do
- Exploration of the five essential ingredients for a happy* life in word and video
But that’s not quite enough.
I’m going to invoke the opposite for a moment. The following, if prolonged, make me want to vanish: “Nice weather we’re having this week.” Or, “Where did you get that shirt?” We all make small talk to survive, and certainly small talk makes a great opening, but it’s often the default for far too long in discussions. And the truth is, you can go deep in a matter of seconds.
“Big talk” stems from a list of questions I maintain to ask when faced with the banality of small talk in situations much like these. I add to this each year, with questions from “If you could live 500 years, would you?” to “What is the most difficult thing about being alive?” and of course “What are your essential ingredients to a happy life? ”
Initially, people laugh … but then we proceed to have more interesting conversations. Big Talk is getting at what’s important because my time here is short and I don’t care about meteorology. (At least, not a lot.)
It all started in Greece
One day in 2006, port-side in the small island of Paros sipping on Greek coffee, staring at the harbor bobbing with small lopsided boats, I started thinking about the fundamental things I need in my life to consider it “good” or worthwhile. In other words, where should I be focusing my limited time based on what I have valued so far?
I want to emphasize this point. I’m not trying to guess what makes me happy. I’m gauging by what I’ve enjoyed or valued to date, and what I’d be proud of from my proverbial death-bed in the future. This does not mean I’ve accomplished them all – but based on my experience, they’re important.
Back in Paros, I came up with four necessary ingredients:
- Community (partner, family, friends)
- Activism (taking action on behalf of others with no voice: farm animals)
- Art (music, film, writing – something beyond the required)
- Stream – finding a way to fund the other three – the stream need not be connected to them though
And then … I told my Aunt Maria, while visiting her apartment one day in Athens. She said, “Eleni, you’re young. You forgot the most important one.”
5. HEALTH (without it, it’s really hard to manage the other four)
And now I observe that these spell CASH. Or, well, CAASH. I’m sure that’s a good sign. At least for ingredient #4.
How about you? What are your essential ingredients to a worthwhile life? Or put another way, if your death bed was looming (as they are ought to do), what would you want to spend your time doing? Comment below.
Thanks for visiting!
Like these discussions?
*Happy (YBT)= “least miserable” (JH); lived as if life ending next month; lived to fullest potential; infused with meaning; acting beyond one’s own needs; 80% time spent on activities/projects one loves.
PS: The questions originated with a “Game” my friend and I devised back in Seattle, where we came up with questions you would not want to ask your mother, certainly, or perhaps anyone. But we did (ask). It was great fun.
The Talker behind You Big Talker
This is where I talk in 3rd person
Professionally, Eleni has been a human resources manager, legal advocate for people with disabling conditions, technical writer, temp, community relations contractor, project manager, engagement manager during the first three years of a health care start-up, marketing director, and even a Kindergarten tutor.
In roughly 2008 she decided that she wanted to “retire” from full-time traditional work by the age of 42. She’s worked at the Seattle Community College District, Duke, IPIHD, Columbia University, and even an armored car company in the early days, riding her Honda Shadow 500 to and from the University of Washington where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English (with a writing emphasis).
Fun-ly, Eleni grew up in a classical family (her mother still plays violin in the Philharmonia Northwest) but began drumming in 1992-ish and has played with her duo Beloved Binge since 2002. She has made two documentaries: Seeing Through the Fence (more below) and Backpack Drumset. She also creates and posts videos on Porch Life Productions, Beloved Binge, and You Big Talker. She released and toured with “#Comments: Mayogate” and is currently working on the second edition “#Comments: Control.”
Actively, Eleni has advocated on behalf of animals bred and raised for 98% of our “meat” food initially through N.A.R.N. (while in Seattle) and for several years with the Adopt-a-College program of Vegan Outreach, where she has handed over 32,000 students information to help guide their meal choices and ultimately reduce suffering. She co-founded and co-led the Bull City Vegan Chef Challenge (2010, 2012, 2014, 2016) and Triangle Meatless Mondays (2011 – 2016). She has also volunteered with The Humane League and The PA Prison Society (an organization advocating for justice-involved individuals and an end to mass incarceration).
Really, Eleni’s earliest professional experience and activism know-how was developed as a young lass working at her father’s many restaurants in Seattle. He taught her how to treat people well (“Fast, Friendly, and Funny!”) how to conquer shyness and engage in community outreach, and how to argue with aid of food projectiles in traditional Greek fashion. She misses her Dad a lot and life has less joy with him not in it.