Being Vegan, Vegan Being- Katie Risstrom – I Love Going to Bed Knowing I’ve caused as Little Harm as Possible

My name is Katie, and I live in the small city/large town of Mildura, Victoria (Australia). I work full-time in Local Government and I am a proud Mum of two beautiful rescued furbabies (Danger and Diesel). I went vegan for the animals, but I have since discovered the environmental and health benefits that can come with it. It’s such an enjoyable lifestyle, and I love going to bed each night knowing I’ve caused as little harm as possible to all living beings.

When I first became vegan, I was still a little brainwashed by propaganda and believed that it was an unhealthy way to live. I thought I would be nutrient deficient for life and have supplements coming out my ears, but I didn’t care – I was willing to put up with it if it meant less animal suffering! But once I started researching, I discovered that not only was a vegan diet perfectly healthy, it could actually be far superior to the standard modern diet.

I’ve lived with eating disorders since age fifteen, and I had been avoiding a number of food groups (not just animal products) without realizing how crucial they were to my health. Learning about food and the importance of proper nutrition prompted me to take a good hard look at my diet, and encouraged me to add more goodness and remove unnecessary “fillers”. Today I am eating healthier than ever and consuming a diet that is nutritionally sound, delicious, satisfying, and of course kind. Veganism is the main reason I’ve made so much progress and I am thankful to have ended up on this path.

I will be vegan for life and going forward I aim to create more awareness. I’d love to start a part-time vegan business of some kind one day, I’m just waiting for that winning idea to hit me! I’m also hoping to get a group of passionate people together to do some street activism/outreach in my local area soon, but in the meantime, I do what I can solo to spread the message of kindness.

What was the moment you realize that you wanted to go vegan?

My siblings and I never ate much animal flesh as children – we simply didn’t like the taste and because my Mum was vegetarian she never forced it onto us. I was about thirteen when I completely eliminated flesh and by-products from my life, and when I did so I honestly believed I was no longer doing any harm to animals. It wasn’t until almost 15 years later that the horrors of the egg and dairy industries were bought to my attention. I was talking to a vegan about purchasing free-range eggs because I believed that if they were RSPCA approved they couldn’t possibly be that bad. How wrong was I?!! Her simple response of, “Oh, you would be surprised,” prompted me to do some Googling. The Humane Myth website appeared, and two minutes into exploring their site I had decided that the only way forward was vegan. I used up or threw away all products of cruelty, and have only become more and more passionate since.

Once I shared my knowledge with my parents and my brother and sister, they became vegan too. I’m so proud to be part of such an amazing family, and that we all support and understand each other.

How long have you been Vegan?

I’ve been vegan for about five years now.

Why is being Vegan important to you?

Because I strongly oppose injustice. I am vegan for the animals, and what they are forced to endure day after day is extremely cruel and unfair. I want to do all I can to make the world a kinder place for them, and for all of us.

Any recommended Vegan books?

I couldn’t possibly choose a favorite! I love the Vegan Publishers website www.veganpublishers.com  – there are heaps of great reads on there.

Any recommended social sites, Facebook Groups or other?

I love my go-to websites: www.PCRM.org for health, www.cowspiracy.com for the environmental side of things, and www.humanemyth.org for the ethical side of things. I also love www.veganaustralia.org.au, as it covers all bases.

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

Once again, it’s too hard to choose a favorite! There are so many amazing vegans out there creating such effective media. A special shout-out to www.aussiefarms.org.au who do an amazing job of exposing the horrors of Australian animal farming. It’s been hidden for far too long, and when Australians are generally so supportive of animal agriculture it takes a lot of courage and determination to expose them.

Do you actively promote veganism? How? Please share any stories you would like.

I take any chance I can to talk about veganism and try to inspire others to move towards a kinder lifestyle. I always carry an “emergency activism” package in my handbag – some post-its, a texta and pen and paper, some print-outs with informative websites and moving images, and a Vegan Easy booklet which can be downloaded at www.veganeasy.org. I try to sneak flyers and messages in wherever I can – on supermarket shelves, in bus stops, on café tables, inside magazines and books…

What is your favorite Vegan meme?

I’ve seen so many good ones, I couldn’t possibly choose!

What is the vegan stereotype you hear the most and how do you respond to it?

Perhaps not a vegan stereotype as such, but more of an animal one. I’ve noticed that when non-vegans meet and spend time with cows, pigs, sheep and other traditionally “farmed” animals and talk about their experiences, the majority usually mention how captivating and friendly they are. They express amazement at how they each have their own mannerisms and traits…but then finish with the phrase “not like a normal cow/pig/sheep”. If only they realized that is in fact EXACTLY like a normal cow/pig/sheep! Animal agriculture industries encourage us to believe animals are little more than robots, but the truth is very different. Animals are ALL sentient individuals with their own fascinating “personalities”. It doesn’t matter if they are at a sanctuary, in someone’s home, on a “free-range” farm, in a factory farm, or lined up at an abattoir – they can all think and feel, and they are all worthy of kindness and respect.

What’s your favorite Vegan restaurant?

Mildura is yet to establish an all-vegan restaurant, so I’d have to say my brother’s house is my favorite place to eat! Check out @tofucarlos on Instagram – he makes the most amazing whole-foods-plant-based meals and treats and his images capture them perfectly.

Please share your favorite vegan recipe?

I’m not a great cook, and my brother is @tofucarlos so I don’t need to cook for myself!

Some encouraging words for new Vegans?

It may seem daunting at first, but once you get your head around it all it becomes second nature. This includes all aspects of living vegan, from doing the groceries and cooking, to identifying cruelty-free products, and even talking to people and educating them about veganism. As your knowledge and passion grows, so does your confidence.

What does living cruelty-free mean to you?

Doing the least harm possible, to all sentient beings.

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

All of them! Some of them that spring to mind are, Kat Von D makeup, Pacifica fragrances, and Deva nutrition. Some non-food online stores that are fantastic are VeganPet (dog and cat products and some human goodies too) and Vegan Wares (amazing shoes, wallets etc).

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

I struggled to find a foundation with good coverage at first, but that was very early on. I think vegan makeup (and vegan products in general) have come ahead in leaps and bounds over the last few years. Now we’re spoilt for choice!

Talk about a time when you struggled with your Veganism?

I think Jo Tyler said it perfectly – “The real struggle in being vegan doesn’t involve food. The hardest part about being vegan is coming face-to-face with the darker side of humanity and trying to remain hopeful. It’s trying to understand why otherwise good and caring people continue to participate in the needless violence against animals just for the sake of their own pleasure or convenience.”

It’s heartbreaking when otherwise good people aren’t willing to open their minds, eyes, and hearts and take the necessary action to reduce suffering. So for me, the struggle isn’t with being vegan, it’s with dealing with those who aren’t.

What is your number one coping mechanism when it all gets a bit much to handle?

Surrounding myself with like-minded people, either in “real life” or online – it’s not always easy to find vegan friends in your town or city, but fortunately, social media has made it possible to connect with like-minded individuals all over the world. My amazing virtual vegan friends have helped keep me sane through the tough times, and have driven me to do more for the animals than I thought I was capable of. Their passion and dedication are inspiring, and they mean more to me than they probably realize!

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