Being Vegan, Vegan Being: Ari Violet – This is a Lifestyle of Immense Compassion, Awakening and Healing.

Tell us a little about yourself. Where you live, what you do for a living. Please feel to share and promote anything you want here, business, social or websites.

I live on the West Coast of Florida, I’ve worked so many jobs since graduating from college, but most recently was a waitress at a high-volume restaurant that serves meat. I was vegan for three years by this time and my heart never aligned with what I was doing – how could I make my living off of the flesh of these sentient animals, serving them to guests who I knew were suffering from illness? I would cry almost EVERY day I was there and had to witness the flesh of my friends being prepared. So, I took a HUGE leap and quit my job month ago. I am completely broke but SO grateful for making moves that are intentional and authentic. I leave for school in a week to become a certified raw-vegan chef (my husband and I have been fully raw for a year now). The plan is to open a catering business that will educate the community on compassionate choices, host workshops that provides plant-based cooking (or un-cooking) demos, teach children about healthy food, and donate boxes of healthy produce for families in need. I also want to give a shoutout to my friend, Jessica DiLorenzo, she just launched a non-profit called the Radiant Warriors Foundation which strives to give holistic, natural and intentionally designed wellness packages to women facing breast cancer in our community. I would love for Peacefully Plated, my business, to support non-profits with missions such as these by providing recipes, classes and produce that heal the minds, bodies, and souls of people facing illnesses such as this. I also have a personal YouTube channel, website and Instagram account that spreads compassionate and encouraging messages, yummy recipes and helpful tips on going Vegan and staying vegan! Eventually, my husband and I (we just got married two weeks ago) would love to move and expand our tiny orchard into an entire permaculture garden and wellness center!

What lead you to veganism? How long ago?

I found veganism after a season of illness, which lasted over two years. After incessant visits to doctors, being hospitalized for a week, suffering from thyroid disease, dysphagia, GERD, asthma, chronic bronchitis, chronic sinusitis, severe allergies, acne, weight gain, and severely painful digestive issues, I knew something ELSE had to change…I knew this wasn’t going to be resolved by taking a pill. So, I moved to Florida to convalesce, worked at a health food store while living here, and met my husband (who was and has been vegan for over 17 years)! He introduced me to the healing power of eating plants! Since eating a whole-food, plant-based diet, I’ve lost a total of 36 pounds without any vigorous exercise, my skin is cleared and vibrant, I’m off my asthma steroids, I take a supplement only for seasonal allergies twice a MONTH, versus twice a DAY, my GERD is gone, my digestion is BEAUTIFUL, my dysphagia is gone because my acid reflux is under control, my menstrual cycle is healthy, and my energy is WAY UP! I feel awake, connected, happy, balanced, and grateful for plants.

When you first went vegan how did you phase out your non-vegan food, clothing and other items?

I went vegan cold turkey, overnight after trying to be vegan for about a year. I guess I just woke up and it clicked. So, initially, I didn’t realize how many THINGS I had that contained animal products – basically EVERYTHING. That process of education took a while and still surprises me. Initially, I went vegan for health, but now my passion is fueled by so much more than that. I am vegan out of respect for all of God’s creations. I phased out my skincare and haircare products first, just by tossing them. I didn’t own makeup at the time so I didn’t have to do anything with that…but there are SO many amazing, cruelty-free and HEALTHY makeup brands that are actually GOOD for your skin. I didn’t have leather clothes, but I did have leather shoes that I donated to goodwill. I DID keep a pair of sneakers that had animal-based glue and wore them out until I couldn’t anymore. Now I do a PLETHORA of research before buying ANYTHING! I got a tattoo before being vegan, then realized the ink isn’t vegan. However there ARE companies with vegan ink, so I requested those brands for all my other tattoos. I donated what was obviously sourced from animals, tossed my cleaning products and beauty products that weren’t vegan and slowly transitioned everything out. Now we are very intentional with our purchases. HOWEVER, gifts….we receive gifts from family members (who are not vegan) that contain animal products – soaps, candles, rugs…initially, it was really hard to say no because we were stepping on their feelings. But as the years go by we stand firmly in our convictions and respectfully decline offers and ask if we can exchange it for a cruelty-free alternative.

Do you make any exceptions for yourself or if you are married with kids – your family, when it comes to veganism? For example, how strict are you with your children’s veganism at school or at family gatherings?

I, fortunately, did not have to make any exceptions and the whole journey has been easy because my husband has been vegan for almost two decades. I am VERY strict with family gatherings if it is at our home, no animal products or byproducts are allowed. When we join family somewhere other than our home, we bring vegan dishes to inspire others and also have something for ourselves. We are planning on having children and I am so excited to have found veganism before, his magical journey of pregnancy and raising kids. We want to teach compassion, empathy, and mindfulness to all future generations. I plan on packing their lunches and gently exposing them to WHY we are a vegan family…guiding them toward their OWN passion for compassionate eating.

Do you believe we should show children the process of how animals are turned into meats?

I absolutely believe in educating our children! It’s the best way to treat them as equals and guide them toward making their own intentional and compassionate choices. I believe in gently sharing the truth, and ensuring they understand what we are about to expose them to. If they say they aren’t ready, or if I feel they are too young for such graphic images, then, of course, I wouldn’t force that upon them. I think to include them in WHY we eat and live the way we do definitely requires illuminating injustice and igniting a fire in their own hearts.

What does being vegan mean to you? For example, does it extend to not killing bugs and bees? Does it include not patronizing vegan companies owned by non-vegan parent companies? Does it affect the way you treat other humans?

Veganism is defined in my soul as more than just living, consuming and eating in a way that results in the least amount of harm for sentient beings. It means mindfulness across the board! It has also awakened me to the exploitation and purpose of all creatures, however small they are. Even further, it has brought me so much closer to God. Because of this, I refrain from consuming honey, I do not kill insects…I refrain from all unnecessary exploitation to the best of my knowledge. This is a very delicate and sacred balance we are a part of. Creation isn’t here for us to USE, it’s here for us to learn from, celebrate, experience, and respect. I do not patronize companies who have non-vegan parent companies or companies/restaurants that solely have vegan options but aren’t entirely plant-based. I’ve thought of boycotting or avoiding them at all costs…but for example, if someone is a new vegan or traveling often, these companies are at least providing outlets, options that would otherwise not be there. So how do we weigh that? I think it’s a subjective issue. I personally do NOT support those companies but understand that providing vegan options is also important because that spreads the awareness and accessibility of plant foods for those who are new to this lifestyle. Eventually, I hope that all companies abandon or consider abandoning cruelty and that the integrity of these vegan companies is assessed with more intention and mindfulness. Veganism has influenced how I treat others; it has made me more patient and loving altogether.

And what about non-vegans? How does veganism influence how I treat them? I do not scoff or reject or criticize, because we all came from that place (unless you were lucky enough to be raised vegan). The quickest way to turn someone off is by being condescending and cruel in our interactions. I believe in loving education, HOWEVER…there have been many times where I do become heated, but typically not unless I am provoked. I think overall it has made me more loving but also has generated this incessant, aching desire to connect and inspire people to adopt a vegan lifestyle. It has definitely been a journey – trying to reign in my emotions and be as pleasant and loving as possible while this holocaust takes place. We, as vegans, have experienced this tremendous gift of healing and awakening and simply desire others to transform and grow as well. If something is good, we share it. But I think we need to balance our convictions with compassion.

Is it every vegan’s duty to become an activist?

I think this depends on your definition of activism. There are varying degrees of activism, and the expression of each is different depending on the person and their character. By nature, I think any vegan is an activist…simply by standing up for their ethics and denouncing what society tells us to do. There are activists that are super hands-on, some are silent in their activism (for me, I love to leave pamphlets in the meat and dairy sections of the stores I visit), some are activists by educating others, some activists show up as artists. I think being an activist is a natural byproduct of becoming vegan, whether we mean to or not we participate in this activism. One individual might respond better to the message of veganism by watching a documentary or witnessing a protest or gathering. Another individual might respond better to the gentle activism of education. Because each person is uniquely affected by different stimulation, I think there should be and ARE so many colorful forms of activism.

How compassionate or empathetic are you towards non-vegans?

I think this coincides with my answers to the question about what does veganism mean to you and how does it influence how you treat others. I am compassionate toward non-vegans because I was once in their shoes, but more often than not I think that (from my experience) non-vegans are more aggressive than vegans. I’ve had meat shoved in my face, I’ve been told my lifestyle isn’t healthy, I’ve been called negligent for wanting to raise a vegan family, I’ve been asked countless times if I want a piece of bacon, I’ve been made fun of, called an extremist. I think this comes from a place of denial and/or fear – that perhaps veganism IS the answer, but that requires a person to abandon what is comfortable and familiar. In those situations, I either ignore them, or stand up for what I believe in…sometimes my delivery is not as graceful as I’d hoped. But in general, I do not chastise or discount non-vegans. I believe in leading by example, gently educating others where and when necessary and being a beacon of light. Love wins each time, so showing up with an aggressive attitude is not going to influence change (at least that’s the approach I subscribe to).

Any recommended Vegan books?

OH MY GOSH! So many! In fact, I am reading a PLETHORA of books right now for school. Here are my favorite recommendations:

Becoming Vegan
Whole
China Study
Rainbow Green Live Food Cuisine
The Inner Life of Animals
Nature’s First Law: The Raw Food Diet
The Live Food Factor
Medical Medium: Thyroid Healing
Proteinaholic
How Not to Die

Any recommended social sites, blogs or pages?

I am so inspired by young social media influencers. Hands down my favorite of all are:

Ellen Fisher
Jinti Fell
Sarah Lemkus
Earthy Andy
Kate Flowers
Mae Flowers

Do you have a favorite movie or videos or your own media that you want to share?

All of the fundamental documentaries obviously – I”m sure most vegans and even non-vegans know of them. I.E. Cowspiracy, Earthlings, Forks over Knives, What the Health…etc. etc. I do have a YouTube account – two actually, can’t figure out the login to change my old one so they are both ‘Ari Violet,’ obviously, I’m referencing the one about veganism and conscious living 🙂

What’s your favorite Vegan restaurant?

CANNOT list one. I’m sorry! HAHA, They’re mostly raw and they are:

Moksa Plant-Based Restaurant and Permaculture Garden – Ubud, Bali
Peace Pies – San Diego, CA
Au Lac – Fountain Valley and Los Angeles, CA
The Seeds of Life – Ubud, Bali
Ethos Vegan Kitchen – Orlando, FL

Please share your favorite vegan recipe?

I have a few raw recipes up on my blog, my favorite is the raw chai caramel cheesecake bites!! www.ariviolet.com 🙂 I also love making nori wraps with raw, tangy almond pad thai sauce. My husband and his friend came up with this and I adapted it a little bit:

3-4 tbps. raw almond butter
1-2 inch piece of ginger root
juice of 1 large lemon
2 cloves garlic
2-3 tsp. red pepper flakes OR cayenne pepper (adjust to taste, I like spice)
2-3 tbsp. red miso, you can also use coconut aminos, Nama shoyu, salt… (I love salty things so miso sometimes is a nice alternative since it doesn’t affect our body like other salt/sodium).
4-5 pitted, Medjool dates
One small red bell pepper
Young Thai coconut water to assist in blending

* blend all ingredients in high-speed blender until creamy. Adjust seasoning as needed. Use less coconut water for a dipping sauce, and more for a dressing. Pour over red peppers, carrots, and zucchini noodles or wrap with favorite veggies in spring or nori roll.

Some encouraging words for new Vegans?

Be gentle on yourselves, you will not be perfect and that’s okay – we aren’t called to be perfect. Just know that there is a community, a family, behind you and that vegan options and recipes are abundant and becoming more accessible. I promise after a few weeks this will become second nature. And after a few months, you won’t even have to think about it. Get ready for the most beautiful transformation of your life. This is a lifestyle of immense compassion, awakening and healing. Use social media as an inspiration tool – follow other vegans that regularly post about vegan food and other encouraging content. You are so needed. YOU! Your choice DOES impact the animals, your body and the Earth.

What is the vegan scene like in your city?

The scene is pretty small, though I do believe it is growing. We have one intimate group and at every meet-up, it’s usually the same as 20-40 people. Our city is just launching its first-ever LOCAL VegFest and we are SO excited…though I’ll be in school during it. Restaurant options are pretty bleak at this time, but we do have tropical fruit growing almost all-year-round and we have some pretty awesome organic farmsteads. It’s not like living in California… 🙂 SOMEDAY!

What personal recommendations can you make for people to meet other vegans?

Almost every city has a meet-up group that you can find online or through Facebook. You can also find information for these at vegan restaurants, health food stores, local markets. I’d say visit some local restaurants, find a meet-up, or even host your own gathering. Also, documentary screenings, festivals…they’re out there!!!! And I’ve never met a vegan that doesn’t want to include you in the group. Such a different pack of friends – there’s so much compassion and mindfulness involved in your vegan circle, you’re bound to make some besties.

What does living cruelty-free mean to you? Does it extend to the way you as a vegan treats other humans too?

I like to refer to the Sanskrit word Ahimsa when I talk to anyone about being “cruelty-free.” Aforementioned, this journey started for health, for the animals, but now it’s evolving into a journey of growing as an individual and a soul. So, very fundamentally, cruelty-free means having as little harmful impact on any other living (I use ‘living’ instead of Sentient because I believe we should respect all of God’s creations and that all of nature has a soul) creature as you can by making choices that are compassionate in the way we eat, purchase and live; avoiding products and services that use or exploit animals in any way. Now, this extends beyond the animals – this means choosing purchases and supporting companies that use ethical standards for treating their HUMAN workers as well. I am just now reaching into this realm, which has also made me more minimalist in my lifestyle. Even further, Ahimsa means not thinking a negative or depleting thought about yourself and others, being slow to anger and quick to love, an existence and thought process void of any form of violence…and this is NOT easy. I don’t think I could ever accomplish ahimsa in totality. We are constantly waging war inside our heads – our thoughts, our criticisms, our rage on the road during rush hour. We are human, but ahimsa is a wonderful guide and practice to living with intention and compassion.

What are you favorite Vegan non-food products or companies?

OH, MY GOSH!!! So many! 🙂
Inika Organics
Pacifica Beauty
Acure Skincare
Noir Body – oral care
Zausner – Solar Recover
100% pure
In the Soulshine
Global Healing VeganSafe B12
The Raw Food World – some food but lots of products as well
Lucy & Yak – ethical, fair trade, sustainable, biodegradable, recycled, cotton, stylish clothing!!!
Pure Synergy

Talk about a time when you struggled with your Veganism?

I was working at an Italian restaurant – family owned, VERY small – WHILE trying to go vegan. The sweet, Italian father of the owner was incessantly trying to feed me – everything and anything animal product. Not in a mocking way, he barely understood what I was saying let alone knew I was trying to go vegan. He just wanted me to EAT. He would surprise me on my break with an entire pizza, topped with prosciutto and gorgonzola… sometimes I could resist, other times I couldn’t. The will was there, but habit, culture and my cravings hadn’t yet evolved. AND THEY REALLY DO EVOLVE. When we are conditioned to eat a certain way, we naturally crave those foods. I realized what I was really craving were the fat and the salt. So I started eating more tahini, savory and umami veggies like eggplant and mushrooms, lentils,, even imitations “meats” and “cheeses.” Eventually, I TRULY stopped craving these animal products and the thought and smell of it started to repulse and nauseate me. It’s decaying flesh. Now, as a raw-vegan, I crave whole plant foods and sincerely get excited over a tomato! 🙂

What is the toughest Vegan item to find that you need?

I spend a lot of time researching clothes and shoes….but have never once been unsuccessful in purchasing a vegan alternative to whatever I’m looking for. We just had a wedding and I thought there would be so many road-bumps when it came to finding vegan options but we found EVERYTHING – from the clothing to the shoes, raw-vegan catering, vegan linens, vegan candles, makeup, hair products, skincare, perfume, floss, toothpaste, luggage, —- nothing was compromised. We even eloped in a redwood forest to minimize our footprint. Does it take a little extra effort? Sure! But that’s only because the “Norm” isn’t YET veganism…but there’s a rapid influx of products on the market and I KNOW that’s only going to grow! I honestly can’t think of anything specific I’ve struggled to find. AND all my vegan products are actually GOOD for me!!! ik

Tastemaker Supply – 100% Vegan Footwear – Pictured – Women’s Taste Artistry (Red)

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