Tell us a little about yourself.
I live in Portland, OR and my day job is as a mechanical engineer for a laser company. It pays the bills and is pretty good work, but my passion is music. I have been playing drums since I was a kid and currently play in an instrumental funk group called Argyle (argyle.bandcamp.com).
What lead you to veganism? How long ago?
My wife, Christen, and I had a (non-vegan) friend mention the movie Earthlings to us. We watched it over several viewing sessions because it was so powerful and painful to watch. Immediately after that, we both went vegetarian, but not vegan. We thought that was so “extreme”…ha! Over the next 6 months or so, Christen, who had committed herself to be vegan, started trying out great vegan recipes and winning me over with food! At that point, we were both vegan and have been ever since.
When you first went vegan how did you phase out your non-vegan food, clothing and other items?
The transition to veganism went pretty rapidly. Once I really made the connection, I did not want to have any of those animal-based foods in the house! When I bought new shoes, clothes, or cleaning products, I started making sure I was buying vegan, and phasing out the old stuff.
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 do not have any children, but I sympathize greatly with those who have children whom they wish to raise vegan, as I’m sure it is not easy given this non-vegan world we live in! That being said, I really don’t compromise ever… I’m probably harder on myself than I should be. But that is the kind of person I am. I have sort of a perfectionist-type personality and if I screw one note up at a show I’m playing – I beat myself up. And if I think I might accidentally eat some dairy, I feel emotionally awful. We are our biggest critic, as the saying says. I’m trying to work on this though. Not to be lax about my veganism per se, but to be mindful of my own mental health and wellbeing as much as I am for the animals.
Do you believe we should show children the process of how animals are turned into meats?
Yes. I think children should be shown everything, and that we also make it clear that what is being done is completely avoidable and we need not take part in it.
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 to me is summed up pretty well by the definition written by the Vegan Society founder, Donald Watson. I will try to avoid unnecessary harm to all animals as long as it is practical and possible. There are some interesting new products like the Impossible Burger, which was sadly initially tested on animals. I don’t regularly buy this product, but I think it is a good product which will hopefully help people in the mainstream start eating vegan. I like to keep a “big picture” mentality about veganism. Whatever will help end the horrific plight of the world’s nonhuman animals is good, in my opinion.
Is it every vegan’s duty to become an activist?
I think by just being “the vegan in the room”, you are automatically being an activist. You don’t have to leaflet or protest to be an activist, but the world definitely needs people who do that. I think it’s simply every vegan’s duty to never be completely silent about their veganism or to try and hide it. Beyond that, it’s up to each person to figure out what their “activism” looks like. Is it bringing vegan cookies to your work? Or is it leafletting in front of the rodeo?
How compassionate or empathetic are you towards non-vegans?
I feel like I am compassionate towards non-vegans, but I struggle to be so. That’s because it’s easy to forget where we started, but that’s what I try to constantly remind myself of. I wasn’t always vegan. I used to eat steaks and laugh at veggie burgers. I need to never forget that.
Any recommended Vegan books?
Empty Cages, The China Study, and any Vegan Cookbook by Isa Chandra!
Any recommended social sites, blogs or pages?
I recommend joining the vegan group for your town or city. It’s a great way to meet like-minded people and to keep a finger on the pulse of the vegan world within your community.
Do you have a favorite movie or videos or your own media that you want to share?
Related to veganism, I think one of the best movies to watch is “Cowspiracy”. This is a great documentary!
What’s your favorite Vegan restaurant?
Without a doubt, Cornbread Café in Eugene, OR (where I spent a lot of my high school years). The “Eugenewich” is a masterpiece of vegan comfort food!
Please share your favorite vegan recipe?
Baked Ziti from “The Sexy Vegan” (Brian Patton). You can find it online easily, and I make it for my Omni friends and family and they always LOVE it.
Some encouraging words for new Vegans?
Being vegan is the single best thing you can do for this world and for yourself! You are joining the ranks of a movement which grew 500% in the US last year!
What is the vegan scene like in your city?
I live in what is described as a “vegan mecca” (Portland, OR), so yes it is very nice. I didn’t even know this when I transitioned though! It seems like a new vegan restaurant opens almost weekly, which is awesome, but I still cook a lot at home! I’d go broke going out to all the amazing vegan spots we have here all week!
What personal recommendations can you make for people to meet other vegans?
Join the local vegan group on social media and go to some meetups! The ones where people drink beer are the best J.
What does living cruelty-free mean to you? Does it extend to the way you as a vegan treats other humans too?
Yes, I believe veganism sort of entails non-violence. Just as there is normally always a vegan solution to the problem 99.99% of the time, there is likely a non-violent solution to any conflict.
What are you favorite Vegan non-food products or companies?
I have some amazing Vegan dress shoes from Brave Gentleman. Also, we have a Vegan clothes and gift shop called Herbivore here in town, and they are awesome.
What is the toughest Vegan item to find that you need?
The selection of Vegan hiking boots is a little weak in my opinion, but I think it’s getting better all the time!
Talk about a time when you struggled with your Veganism?
This is an easy question to answer. I struggle every time I see my close friends and my family willingly and happily consume animal products in front of me. It’s easy to see a stranger do it, because they may not know any better. But, I’ve had many conversations with my mom and dad and brother about what veganism means to me. I’ve shared documentaries and books with them. And they still choose to not change at all. It is very painful, but I cannot change someone. People must change for themselves.