Being Vegan, Vegan Being – Kennedy Summers – Modeling Veganism Through Education, Understanding and Empathy.

What lead you to veganism? How long ago?

I’ve been vegan for over three years! I quit dairy in 2012 because I didn’t like what it was doing to my skin. It gives me zits. Since I quit eating dairy, I haven’t had any breakouts. I was still eating eggs in 2014 until I went on a date with this movie star who talked me into trying caviar for the first time.

He told me that it didn’t make sense that I’d eat chicken eggs, but not fish eggs, and I had to agree with his logic: eggs were eggs, right? Well, I didn’t hate the taste of caviar, but I was so grossed out, that I never touched it again. And, thanks to my date’s argument about fish eggs being the same as chicken eggs, I could never touch chicken eggs again, either! It’s pretty funny that he tried to open me up to the world of seafood, but all he managed to do was push me into veganism. After a month, I realized I’d never felt better, or happier, and I never went back.

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

My most important transition was from chemical moisturizers and lotions with lanolin, etc, to all-natural, organic oils. I’m obsessed with jojoba oil, and use it for everything—hair, skin, cuticles, and even as a makeup remover. I also make sure that my soaps aren’t made with animal fat—because, honestly, who thinks they’re getting clean by rubbing dead animals all over their body? Disgusting. Once I really started to think about things, I realized that I didn’t want anything to do with the animal industry. It breaks my heart to think of those poor, intelligent creatures just standing around like death row inmates, watching all of their friends die, and knowing their turn is coming.

I also like knowing that I’m not poisoning myself with bioaccumulation, hormones, and endocrine disrupters. I can’t imagine why anyone would want to put those things in or on their body!

Do you make any exceptions for yourself when it comes to veganism?

No, never. I choose not to eat meat, seafood, eggs, or dairy for my health. I grew up vegetarian, even though my family ate meat, so they’re probably used to it. Actually, my grandmother went full vegan last year and I’m really proud of her. It completely changed her health–she was dying eight months ago, bleeding internally from so many places that the doctors couldn’t operate. She needed weekly blood transfusions to survive, and we didn’t think she’d make it to 2018. But, forty-eight days after going vegan, the bleeding stopped completely, and she hasn’t needed a single blood transfusion since. Seeing that kind of miraculous transformation, especially so close to home reminds me that food can be medicine, or food can be poison…and I don’t want to eat poison. Toxic bioaccumulation is a real problem in all animal products.

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

I don’t know that we should necessarily traumatize our children by showing them those videos, but all of my friends raise their kids vegan these days. I think there are ways to teach children that animals are friends, not food, without scarring them for life. I can’t even watch those videos because I’ll literally sit around, traumatized, for the next three days. I don’t understand how we can love dogs and cats so much, yet still be incapable of respecting the lives of other animals.

What does being vegan mean to you?

Being vegan means that I believe in not harming other life. I don’t even like receiving flowers because I think it’s tragic to kill something for no reason. I know that they can’t feel anything, but I believe that every living thing has a right to life, and if I’m not eating it in a salad, then it doesn’t need to die. If a bug gets into my house, I’ll trap it and toss it onto the balcony.

I don’t go out of my way to harass non-vegan companies or people, because I think that’s the opposite of being compassionate, which is what veganism is all about. Just because it was easy for me to transition doesn’t mean that it’s going to be easy for someone else. But, I believe that people learn better through education, understanding, and empathy than they do from fearmongering and intimidation. I think when you come at someone sideways, they’re a lot more likely to rebel than they are to listen.

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

I believe that, if you’re passionate about something, it’s important to share that message. There are a lot of negative stigmas surrounding veganism right now, especially as we’re on the edge of a major, global transition, and a lot of people are rebelling against the idea.

These animals don’t have voices, and they depend on us to speak up for them. We need to continue to expose people to the harsh realities of eating toxic animals and animal byproducts, regardless of the backlash we face. Imagine that it was your dog on “death row” with those other creatures—would you still feel the same about eating animals, knowing the capacity for emotion that exists in your pet? We, as humans, have a responsibility to educate ourselves and each other. As a future doctor, I genuinely believe that we’re going to be seeing a large part of the world transition to veganism and vegetarianism in the near future. I can’t imagine that people will continue to eat cancer-causing foods when surrounded by all of this incredible, new research.

How compassionate or empathetic are you towards non-vegans?

I get it, but I don’t like it. It makes me sad, and I hate when I’m out to eat and someone orders meat. Luckily, most of my friends really enjoy eating vegan food. I’m so strict with my veganism that I rarely eat at non-vegan places, and they’ve all been really supportive. I will say, though, that it really annoys me when meat-eaters post animal abuse videos and Yulin protests on social media. I’m like, “How can you possibly protest animal abuse and meat-eating when you’re doing it in your own country?!” What’s the difference? It’s a dog? How about doing your part and quitting meat instead of trying to get other people to quit? Your Facebook post isn’t going to do anything but make your followers sad, but not eating meat can actually save real lives. I think the right to whine should be reserved for those who have already made the right changes in their own lives.

Any recommended Vegan books?

I’m too busy with medical texts to read for pleasure, right now, but I did really enjoy the What the Health documentary.

Any recommended social sites, blogs or pages?

I like to follow @fullyrawkristina and a couple of other raw pages. They always make such pretty food, and I like my meal-inspo to be full of things that come directly from the plant. I use them to motivate myself to make healthy vegan choices, instead of surviving on potato chips and vegan ice cream.

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

I think What the Health did an incredible job explaining the hazards and the economics of the meat and dairy industries. I guess I don’t spend a lot of time looking for vegan movies and stuff since it comes naturally to me. It’s pretty easy to stay vegan when you dislike the foods you’re avoiding, and everything that those industries promote.

What’s your favorite Vegan restaurant?

Crossroads Kitchen on Melrose Avenue, 100%. My non-vegan friends actually beg to go there! Real Food Daily is also really good.

Please share your favorite vegan recipe?

My favorite, go-to vegan recipe is a smoothie! I make two a day because I think it’s a fast, easy, calorie-dense way to knock back a lot of fruit and veggies while you’re on the go. I stock up on organic, frozen fruits, and I make my own blend of greens (watercress, spinach, and kale) that I freeze to preserve nutrients, as well. I toss the greens into the blender with some mango, pineapple, mixed berries, a banana, almond milk, chia seeds, turmeric, black pepper (necessary to activate the turmeric!), and a scoop of organic peanut butter for protein. I’ve gotten so many compliments on my skin since I added the watercress to the greens mix! Sometimes, I’ll even throw in a pinch of lysine powder, since you need it to build proteins (like collagen!) in the body, but it’s hard to find outside of animal products.

Some encouraging words for new Vegans?

Congratulations on choosing a better, healthier life—and a kinder one. You’ve chosen to turn food into medicine, and as a result, you’re less likely to get cancer and autoimmune diseases. You should be proud of yourself for making that change for yourself, your family, and your future. It gets easier, and soon you won’t have to think about what you’re ordering. After about thirty days, things become a habit.

What is the vegan scene like in your city?

It’s amazing. If you want to be vegan, LA is the place. Even the non-vegan restaurants have vegan options, and you’ll never go hungry. Plus, LA has some of the best variety of vegan foods that I’ve ever seen. It’s not just toast, french fries, and salad over here.

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

I think that going to vegan restaurants is the best way to meet other vegans. There’s a whole subculture dedicated to this lifestyle, and plenty of people will be happy to talk to you about it and share their experiences.

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

Cruelty-free living means that I don’t harm other living beings. I don’t want that on my conscience. I don’t care if it’s a human, a snail, or some kind of eel—I’m not going to go out of my way to make that creature miserable. I don’t think that the way I eat affects how I treat people, but I always try to bear in mind that we never know what someone else is going through. I try my best to be considerate and understanding, no matter the situation. I think that’s just what normal people do, though.

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

I’m obsessed with Glycelene beauty ointment. I’m also obsessed with jojoba oil and taking vitamins. I take so many vitamins that you’d be shocked. I take a multivitamin, lysine, alpha-lipoic acid, Hawaiian astaxanthin, calcium+magnesium, hair/skin/nail vitamins, a B-complex vitamin, and probiotics every day. We’re so lucky that we have these magic, little pills that carry everything we need from our diet (except calories), and I don’t know why you wouldn’t take them. Definitely choose the vegan versions, though!

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

Honestly, finding vegan vitamins is a real struggle. That, and protein powder that doesn’t taste like chalk!

Talk about a time when you struggled with your Veganism?

I modeled in mainland China (Shenzhen), and I nearly starved to death. I couldn’t eat a thing—it was all chicken feet and fish heads over there (it’s changed in the last ten years, for sure)! My agency actually sent me home for being too skinny, which is quite an accomplishment in Model World.

The food in China was disgusting, and I was living there right around the time that all of the Chinese milk sent to the USA had that countertop liquid added to it for color. I figured if that’s what they were sending to America, I was most definitely not going to be consuming the milk that stayed behind in China. For the next three months, I flat refused to eat anything that didn’t come directly off a tree, and, by the end of it, I was 108 lbs, which does not look good on a 5’9” frame. I spent every waking moment eating, but I just couldn’t manage to get enough calories to stay alive. I don’t know how people on a fully-raw diet can do it, because I’ve never looked sicker.

What are you currently working on with your work life / what do you wish to promote?

I’m currently studying for my USMLE Step 1, which I’m taking in July. I’ll be a doctor in 2020. It takes up a lot of time, but I feel like I’ll be able to do a lot of good in the world when it’s over.

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