After working for a non-profit animal rights organization in Virginia, I moved back to my hometown near Philadelphia, PA. I now work as an assistant manager for a computer software company. Some of our clients are non-profit organizations that fight on behalf of the environment or animal rights, which is part of what made my current job so appealing when applying. No matter what I do in my professional career, it is extremely important that I’m doing something that I feel matters.
Fighting for the conservation of our environment and for animal rights is always going to be my life’s calling, which is part of why I started my Instagram, @that_vegan_hippie. I wanted an outlet where I could make information about animal rights, climate change, and health easily understandable and accessible. There are so many benefits to going vegan—it’s a more sustainable diet for our planet, it’s better for your health, and it saves animals’ lives. So many people think vegans only eat lettuce, or are scrawny, or are radical, and I wanted to break some of those stereotypes so people better understand what veganism is all about, and see for themselves how easy it is to eat a vegan meal in today’s world.
What was the moment you realize that you wanted to go vegan?
5 years ago, my boyfriend decided he wanted to become vegetarian after his dog, Cooper, passed away. He had a realization that every animal is a conscious, living being who deserves a life of love and to pass away in dignity. This inspired me to research more about the vegetarian diet, and once I found out how much suffering is involved in the raising and killing animals for food, and impregnating cows for milk, I decided I never wanted to consume meat or dairy again. Giving up dairy was way more difficult for me at the time—I would try so hard to avoid it, but then a month would go by and I would be binging on cheese—until September of 2015. I was watching the documentary Vegucated and finally had had enough. Every time I craved dairy after that, I would watch YouTube videos of dairy farms, or just think of those images in my head, to the point where I can’t imagine craving it again.
How long have you been Vegan?
Since September of 2015 (around 1 year, 5 months)
Why is being Vegan important to you?
As far as we know, we only have one life to live. It’s hard to feel like you can make any impact in such a big world, but being vegan enables me to feel like I’m at least doing my part. I’ve always loved animals and felt a deep connection to the earth. Ever since I stopped eating animals, I’ve felt more at peace with myself because my values finally align with my actions. I also just feel so damn healthy. I used to hate vegetables until I had to learn how to cook them right. Now I love my veggies, I have more energy to explore outside, and I have a sense of purpose in my life.
Any recommended Vegan books?
Do you have a favorite movie or videos or your own media that you want to share?
Forks over Knives, Earthlings, Food Matters, Cowspiracy
What is the vegan stereotype you hear the most and how do you respond to it?
A lot of people assume the vegan diet is too limited or radical. I just explain that when I was a meat eater, I never had the incentive to try anything new because it was easy to find an option I knew I’d like on the menu. It wasn’t until I gave up meat and dairy that I was really forced to explore foods outside of my comfort zone. My diet is filled with a variety of nuts, legumes, grains, seeds, fruits, vegetables, and spices. Instead of constantly ordering a chicken or fish dish, I’ve had a lot of fun trying new foods and creating new recipes. My diet is more diverse and healthier than ever—and my body is thanking me for it.
Talk about a time when you struggled with your Veganism?
When some people find out your vegan, they immediately want to make a joke of it, question you, openly judge you, tell you why you’re diet/lifestyle is wrong or too difficult, etc., etc. Yet if you start questioning them or making jokes about their meals, you’re likely to come across as some radical/crazy person because of the stereotypes that exist. It can get frustrating to constantly feel like I need to defend my way of life. It can be exhausting to walk a fine balance between wanting to show people how easy it is to be vegan, while not getting worked up over the annoying comments or jokes. Yet even with all that, I wouldn’t change my diet or way of life for anything. At the end of the day, I can go to bed knowing that I’m living—not the way my friends, family, or society told me to live—but the way I chose to live. I can go to bed knowing I’m not contributing to things I don’t believe in. I’m at peace with my choices, and that’s all that matters in this life—being honest and at peace with who you are and what you’re doing.
Some encouraging words for new Vegans?
If you want to go vegan, it might not happen overnight, and you might have a few mess-ups in the beginning while you’re still learning how to check ingredients or order at a restaurant—but don’t lose sight of your main goal. Adopting a vegan lifestyle is about reducing the amount of suffering in this world, while becoming the best version of yourself in the process. It’s not about perfection or purity, so don’t beat yourself up over the little things. Have fun, continue learning, and eventually, you’ll realize how far you’ve come and what a difference you’re making for your mind, body, and soul.