My name is Kelsey and I’m a third-year law student in Philadelphia. I was born in New Orleans and grew up overseas in Indonesia and Australia before returning to the states. I ended up going to university at High Point University in North Carolina where I majored in Political Science and minored in Philosophy with a focus on theories of ethics. I decided I wanted to go to law school when I was a sophomore and 5 years later I’m very close to getting my JD. So far I’ve worked at the Center of Ethics and Rule of Law and the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, both very different jobs but rewarding in their own ways. I’m still figuring out my long term career plans. I know I want to use my legal education to help people (and animals!) it’s just tricky to figure out the best way to do so. I think at some point I’d love to focus on public health legislation because I truly believe the United States is at a crisis point when it comes to both physical and mental health. On a less serious note, you can find me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/kab1852/ where I post to a vegan food blog, and occasionally ramble about other nonsense.
What was the moment you realize that you wanted to go vegan?
I really don’t have just one moment, I had a zillion little moments and then finally just had to take the leap. I actually went vegan twice for the wrong reasons before I finally made the transformation for the right reasons. And I know a lot of people say that there is no wrong reason to go vegan, and I can see that perspective, because at least no animals are being harmed, regardless of what motivated you, but from my experience, the wrong reasons don’t stick. I actually struggled with anorexia for 12 years (in recovery now!!!) and in the past I used veganism as a diet and a way to restrict my intake further. I think that was really toxic in so many ways and I could honestly get on my soapbox right now and talk forever but I’m resisting, so if you’re interested, feel free to message me on Instagram about it. Even in recovery I was still vegetarian though because I’ve always been unable to stop the association in my mind of meat and the animals they come from (which is a good thing in my opinion). But the real transformation came for me at a time when I had the worst stomach pain imaginable for several weeks. I couldn’t get in to see a doctor and I was desperate to make it go away. I knew I was mildly lactose intolerant so I figured maybe it had gotten worse and I cut out all dairy to see if it made a difference. I then started researching how dairy affects the body and that naturally led to researching the dairy industry which led to researching other animal products and it basically started a landslide that left me feeling horrified. After about a week my stomach pain cleared up entirely, but more important to me than the health benefits was all the information I had learned about the cruelty in the industry, and that’s what cemented in my mind that veganism is forever for me.
How long have you been Vegan?
I’ve been vegan for the right reasons for almost 4 months now. I know that doesn’t sound like very long, and it’s a cliché in the vegan community, but my only regret about going vegan is that I didn’t do it sooner.
Why is being Vegan important to you?
Being vegan is important to me because I love ethical philosophy, and I don’t want to just study it, I want to practice it. It’s important to me to use my life to better the world and make others happy, and at a minimum, I believe in the no-harm principle, which is essentially that you shouldn’t cause unnecessary harm to others. Animals deserve to be included in that, and since I don’t need to harm them to survive, and in fact I’d argue that for a variety of reasons it’s in an individual’s self interest to be plant-based, then I just can’t see any justification for causing the unnecessary pain. Veganism makes me happier and healthier, and at the end of the day, I get to go to sleep at night knowing I didn’t hurt anyone.
Do you have a blog or favorite vegan blog you read?
Any recommended Vegan books?
Yes! Animal Liberation by Peter Singer. It’s essentially a philosophy book arguing against speciesism.
Any recommended social sites, Facebook Groups or other?
Instagram haha. I mean, I know everyone knows about Instagram, but it’s wonderful for feeling like a part of the vegan community, even if you don’t have vegan support in “real life”.
Do you have a favorite movie or videos or your own media that you want to share?
Hard to pick just one but I love this video from John McDougall on The Food We Were Born to Eat, and it is a really great discussion on current public health issues as well.
Do you actively promote veganism? How? Please share any stories you would like.
I do, but I do so by example. I think people need to be ready to make the change or they won’t be motivated to make it last. I also think that some of the ways vegans go about activism can actually hurt the movement because people get defensive and villainize the vegans rather than evaluating their own cognitive dissonance. I also try to use my Instagram to show that you can eat whatever you want through veganism, it’s not all salad and Buddha bowls (although let’s be real, they can be delicious), it’s also donuts and mac and cheez and non-dairy ice cream, it’s all about the balance and it definitely doesn’t need to be restrictive.
Do you miss any non-Vegan foods?
I don’t miss non-vegan foods, but I do miss the convenience of non-vegan foods being available. You can make a vegan version of anything, but you can’t necessarily stop at the supermarket and buy it really quick (although this is improving!).
What is your favorite Vegan meme?
I love this because it explains my feelings on speciesism. As a society we have developed ideas about what is right and wrong for certain animals and right and wrong for others, and it’s based on nothing but their species. If you ever get the chance to meet animals that are used for food, you get to see that they really do have personalities like typical “pets” do.
Meme courtesy of Vegan Memes on Instagram.
What is your favorite Vegan stereotype? If someone asks you a question about it, how do you respond?
Hm the protein deficiency thing comes to mind immediately, but I think the one that hits home for me is how restrictive veganism must be or how much “willpower” I must have to not eat anything with animal products. I don’t have some superhuman amount of willpower and I’m not on a restrictive diet. The way I see it, I CAN eat meat or animal products if I want to, no one is stopping me. I just honestly don’t want to. When I say no to a cupcake for example and people are like “oh you’re so good”, it’s misguided. I’m not saying no because of calories or a restrictive definition of health. I eat vegan cupcakes occasionally. Balance is not bad for you. I say no to the cupcake because I don’t want it. I don’t want to cause suffering for the cows and chickens necessary to make that cupcake, just for 30 seconds of taste. As far as how I respond to questions about it, I try to just show people the world of vegan junk food. We eat treats too!
What’s your favorite Vegan restaurant?
I am DYING to try By Chloe, but since I haven’t been then I guess I can’t count that. I really love Bar Bombon in Philadelphia, which is an all vegan Mexican restaurant. I also love HipCityVeg for vegan fast food.
What’s your favorite recipe?
Oh gosh, if you know me, you know I am NOT a good cook. The blogs I mentioned earlier have great recipes I am sure, I have not actually followed any of them yet… Can I share ideas for lazy vegans instead? I love Beyond Meat and Amy’s frozen meals, and Dr. Praeger’s veggie burgers. Also frozen veg and those microwave packs of rice and quinoa are lifesavers.
What is the one big stereotype you hear about Vegans that you want to dispel?
Probably the general stereotype that we’re all raw food hippie yogis. Absolutely nothing wrong with that if that’s what makes you happy. I follow some wonderful people on Instagram that would probably fit in that category and that lifestyle works for them. But it’s not a requirement for being vegan. I can’t stand yoga, my clothes are more J Crew and definitely not tie dye, and restricting myself to raw foods would be terrible for my eating disorder recovery. I’m still myself, just cruelty-free. You don’t have to change everything about who you are, just make choices that cause no harm.
A few encouraging words for new Vegans?
It’s okay if you’re the only person you know that’s vegan. None of my friends or family are vegan. The change starts with you. Try reaching out in various ways to meet more like minded people. If you’re still in school or college then hopefully there’s a club you could join, if not, try the internet. It sounds silly but just following vegans on Instagram has made me feel so much more inspired and supported than I would otherwise. Just know that you get to make this decision for yourself, and you live with your own choices, other people’s approval or disapproval doesn’t matter. Do what you know is right. And who knows? Maybe you’ll inspire others.
Are you a cruelty-Free vegan?
Yes, and still learning and adjusting. It’s crazy to me how many things are not cruelty-free and that I never even thought about.
What are you favorite Vegan non-food products or companies?
EO Products has amazingly luxurious vegan and cruelty-free lotions. And I love ELF cosmetics for cheap vegan and cruelty-free makeup.
What is the toughest Vegan item to find that you need?
Fashion. Not that it’s hard to find vegan clothes necessarily, but I’m very into fashion and it’s heartbreaking that so many of my favorite (based on design) bags and purses and shoes are real leather. I wish fake leather wasn’t so looked down upon in high fashion.
When is it the most difficult to be vegan and how do you get through it?
It’s the most difficult for me in social situations and when I’m with my family. It’s hard to try to justify the choice in response to criticism from people that don’t understand, and it’s also hard to explain your reasons without people feeling attacked by your explanations. I think you just have to have a very strong sense of purpose and know that not everyone is going to like you, and that’s okay. You just have to keep doing what you know is right.