My name is Kayla. I am 29 years old and I live in Eugene, Oregon. I work full time as a retail manager and have a degree in psychology. I enjoy singing, photography, drawing, watching documentaries and hiking. I am an animal rights activist and plan on doing activism full time. You can follow my activism on Instagram @for.truth
What lead you to veganism? How long ago?
I went vegetarian when I was 17 after watching a PETA video. Unfortunately, I didn’t even know what veganism was, nor did the video promote going vegan. I didn’t know any vegetarians or vegans at the time. When I was 21, I overheard someone talking about how there is no such thing as an “ethical vegetarian,” and heard them talk about the dairy and egg industry. I immediately realized I was a hypocrite and decided to give up eggs and dairy as well. It wasn’t until watching “Earthlings” that I went full vegan, and finally understood speciesism. I didn’t really feel like I was truly vegan until becoming an activist though.
When you first went vegan how did you phase out your non-vegan food, clothing and other items?
Phasing out non-vegan food was the easiest for me. It took little to no effort. Clothing was also really easy, as I didn’t own any items containing leather, wool, fur or silk. When I go shopping, I just check the tags to see what the materials are made of; similar to when I’m food shopping. There’s a lot of label reading with a vegan lifestyle. I would say it was a little more challenging to find cruelty free products, but most products now are labeled and it’s much easier. If I discovered something I had used was not vegan friendly, I would just research for an alternative and replace it.
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 don’t believe there are any exceptions when it comes to animal abuse. It’s one thing if you are just simply unaware if a product is causing harm to animals, but once you know, find an alternative. I still learn about different ways animals are harmed all the time. It’s about educating yourself and adapting. I don’t have children, but if I did, I wouldn’t want to teach them that animal abuse is acceptable if it’s convenient at certain functions; that would just be confusing for the child and teach inconsistent morals. It also perpetuates the idea that animals and their fluids are “food.”
Do you believe we should show children the process of how animals are turned into meats?
Absolutely. Transparency is so important. If more people were honest with their children and themselves about where animal products come from and just told their children the truth, kids wouldn’t want to eat animals or an animal’s bodily fluids. Children are naturally accepting and loving; we are the ones who teach them discrimination of all forms. If you put a child in a room full of animals — dogs, cats, goats, cows, pigs, chickens, ducks; the child will try to pet and love them all. The same would happen if you put children of different ages, races, religions, genders, etc. into a room — the children would try to befriend each other. If we just teach our children to respect each other and to not discriminate against others, rather they have feathers, scales, fur, or look different to us, then the world would be a much more peaceful place.
What does being vegan mean to you? For example, does it extend to not killing bugs and bees? Does it affect the way you treat other humans?
Veganism is a moral obligation to nonhuman animals. It’s really not about me or anyone else; it’s about granting animals the right to their own lives; the right to not be owned, enslaved, exploited, commodified and killed for human habits. Animals should not have to pay with their lives for the things we can easily live without.
I treat humans with kindness and respect, just as I do with nonhuman animals. Everyone deserves kindness. If people are rude or mean, that is a reflection of them and has nothing to do with me. Spewing negativity, anger and hate towards others will only grow more negativity, anger, and hate. I do extend my compassion to insects, bugs, etc. I don’t kill them on purpose, unless it’s self defense. My goal is to cause the least amount of harm as possible. Of course, just existing as a human on this planet is causing harm in some way, but we should all do our best to minimize that harm.
Is it every vegan’s duty to become an activist?
YES. As vegans, we all want to live in a world free from violence and exploitation. We want to be able to walk through a grocery store and not be surrounded by animal corpses and bodily fluids. We want to be able to buy products knowing that animal testing no longer exists. We want to live in a world where animal prisons (zoos, rodeos, circuses, dog & horse racing tracks, aquariums, fur farms, etc.) are a thing of the past. The ONLY way that world will happen is if we actively speak out against these violent systems. The industries that torture animals have been so hidden and normalized that people who expose the truth and rescue animals from these horrific places are considered terrorists. These systems cannot exist without our support. We as consumers have all of the power. We need to educate people and remind them of that constantly.
It is embarrassing that we have to actively convince people that unnecessarily harming animals is wrong, but it is necessary. When we know better, we do better, and empower others to do the same. Someday, not long from now we will reach a tipping point, and will no longer have to fight for animal liberation. We are the ones who get to determine when that will be.
There is something called the bystander effect. Basically, if someone is in distress and there are a lot of people around, but no one is helping, others will be discouraged from helping as well, because not helping has been deemed as acceptable by the populace. However, this bystander effect can also be reversed; if a large group of people are speaking out against a system of violence, others are more likely to follow. If every vegan became active, we would achieve animal liberation much sooner. We need numbers. We need everyone’s voice. There are so many methods of activism and zero excuses. It may seem uncomfortable at times, but it’s nothing compared to what animals experience everyday. I highly recommend people to bear witness at factory farms and slaughterhouses. It raises one’s sense of urgency to the point at which it should be. The animals need us to be active now.
How compassionate or empathetic are you towards non-vegans?
I have always been a highly empathetic person. I can feel and sense others emotions very easily. I have been through many hardships in my life, so it’s very easy for me to empathize with others pain, including animals. Like I stated before, my goal is to treat everyone with kindness. When nonvegans lash out against me, I remind myself that I was once a non-vegan, and that person is coming from a place of ignorance, and not understanding. If people truly understood the extent in which we systemically harm animals, everyone would be vegan. My job is to educate and enlighten people in a positive way. If people truly didn’t care about what was happening to animals, then they wouldn’t be lashing out in the first place. Non-vegans feel the need to justify their guilt, because on some level they do care, which is good.
Any recommended Vegan books?
I don’t know if it’s considered a vegan book per say, but I learned a lot from reading “Mad Cowboy” by Howard Lyman. He is an ex-cattle rancher that was sued along with Oprah Winfrey for speaking the truth about cattle farming on her show. He also starred in “Cowspiracy.”
Any recommended social sites, blogs or pages?
I mainly follow activists on YouTube such as Earthling Ed, Joey Carbstrong, James Aspey, and That Vegan Couple.
Do you have a favorite movie or videos or your own media that you want to share?
The Animals Film (1982). It’s difficult to find, but worth watching.
What’s your favorite Vegan restaurant?
So far, I’d say Lotus Garden in Eugene, Oregon (all vegan Chinese food) and Homegrown Smoker in Portland, Oregon (all vegan BBQ).
Some encouraging words for new Vegans?
Being vegan is easy and feels amazing. Being vegan in a nonvegan world can be difficult. But remember you are not alone. The vegan community is growing every day and we all have the power to make a difference.
What is the vegan scene like in your city?
I honestly don’t go out in the city very much. I prefer to spend time in nature. I would say there are a lot of vegans and/or at least plant-based people and restaurants in the area. There isn’t a lot of activism, but I’m hoping to change that. I operate an Anonymous for the Voiceless chapter and hope to start a Save Movement chapter soon as well.
What personal recommendations can you make for people to meet other vegans?
Go to activism events! If there aren’t any in your area, then start some!
What are you favorite Vegan non-food products or companies?
Pacifica and DermaE.
Talk about a time when you struggled with your Veganism?
The practicality of veganism is really simple. I have been through some dark times mentally where I wasn’t sure how I could cope with all of the suffering happening to animals every single day. I wasn’t struggling with veganism, but the lack of others being vegan. It’s still hard sometimes to be a part of a species that claims to be evolved and yet is so barbaric and cruel. Since then I have shifted my perspective to a more positive outlook. The world is dark, but injustice can’t last forever, so I will do my part in helping shine the light, and encourage others to do the same.