I’m the senior food policy director for The Humane Society of the United States where I work with an incredible team of people across the country helping institutions – schools, colleges, hospitals, the military and correctional facilities add more plant-based options and decrease the amount of meat on their menus through programs like Meatless Monday.
I’m also the author of the forthcoming book, MeatLess: Transform the Way You Eat and Live—One Meal at a Time. I live in beautiful Oakland, California with my husband, a dog, and four cats.
How long have you been Vegan?
I’ve been vegan for almost twenty years. I became vegetarian in college after a marketing professor described euphemisms and how our use of them allows us to engage in actions that we might not otherwise. Calling meat “meat” instead of, say, “the flesh of dead animals,” makes it more palatable. After that, every time I’d sit down to eat I’d think of eating the flesh of dead animals and I couldn’t do it. So I became a vegetarian. After researching more about the food system, I learned that it was much worse than I’d suspected – we institutionally abuse billions of animals and mistreat them in ways most of us would be appalled by. After learning that, I decided to become vegan.
Why is being Vegan important to you?
For me, it’s a moral issue. I live with cats and a dog who I adore. I’d never deliberately cause them harm or allow anyone else to. Chickens, pigs, cows—they share with my beloved companions the capacity for pain and suffering, joy and pleasure. Therefore I can’t fathom the idea of paying someone else to kill animals for me to consume.
And since making that initial move to a vegan lifestyle, I’ve learned so much more about the benefits for my health and the environment that it seems like the best way to align what I eat with my values while staying healthy.
Do you have a blog or favorite vegan blog you read?
Well aside from this terrific one of course, WorldofVegan.com is wonderful. It has recipes, gorgeous photography, lifestyle tips, and more. A close second is PlantBasedonaBudget.com, because who doesn’t love saving money while eating delicious food?
Any recommended Vegan books?
For those interested in giving meatless eating a shot, in addition to my new book, I highly recommend my friend Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s The 30-Day Vegan Challenge. And if you’re interested in the nitty gritty on vegan nutrition, check out Vegan for Life by Jack Norris and Ginny Messina, registered dietitians, packed dense with everything you need to know to stay healthy.
Talk about a time when you struggled with your Veganism?
Ironically the only recent memory I have of struggling to eat vegan was at a conference related to healthy eating! Fortunately the chefs were eager and willing to whip something up. In general though, eating vegan is easier than you think. Once you know what to look for and what foods you like, it becomes second nature.
Some encouraging words for new Vegans?
I follow the industry trends for my work and for several years now the “trends” have indicated that vegan is going mainstream and plants are taking over the center of the plate. 2017 is no different. Number one in Forbes Magazine’s “5 Top Food Trends You’ll See in 2017”? “Vegetarian comfort food.”
Once something is a trend for several years it seems that it’s here to stay. New vegans take heart, you’re joining a community of passionate and compassionate individuals and it’s never been easier than today to be vegan. So welcome and thank you for making this transition!