Tell us a little about yourself.
I live in Los Angeles now. I moved here a few years ago. Before, I was living in Germany for the most part and had lived in the UK and the USA for briefer periods of time. I was born and raised near Berlin in Germany.
I just finished my Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology. Leaving the student life finally behind me, I can put all of my energy full force into my modeling and acting career. My overall mission is to spread more awareness about animal cruelty by using my different skills (drawing, acting, modeling, etc.) and knowledge. I want to spread my message about how important it is to have love, compassion, and happiness through art.
Ever since I was a child, I loved drawing animals, mostly as cartoons. It gave me a way to add light-heartedness to all of the sadness that revolves around the treatment of animals. I mostly post my drawings on Instagram: www.instagram.com/MaryKolende
I started my Etsy store very recently, at the beginning of the year 2018. Right now, I’m selling shirts, mugs, and totes.
What lead you to veganism? How long ago?
When I was 9 years old, I realized that eating animals is absolutely wrong. Back then, I was the only one among all of my friends and family members and no one could convince me otherwise. Dairy was still in my diet until over 4 years ago, when I got severely sick from cheese and also eggs. The symptoms were so terrible that I had to go to the hospital for a few days. After that, I promised myself never to have any animal products again. That experience led me to do more research about the dairy and egg industry, which was another eye-opening and frightening moment in my life.
When you first went vegan how did you phase out your non-vegan food, clothing and other items?
Once I turned completely vegan, cheese and eggs made me feel so sick to my stomach that I had no problems turning away those food items.
It took me about a year or so to realize that I do not want to wear leather items anymore either. Suddenly, it hit me. It was definitely on my mind all along but never that prominent. Nowadays, I look up on vegan blogs and profiles which clothing companies, shampoos, lotions, make-up, etc. I can purchase with a good conscience.
Do you believe we should show children the process of how animals are turned into meats?
I believe in explaining it to them with analogies and metaphors. Putting them into the perspective of the animals, challenging them to explain what the difference is between a dog and a pig or other animals, or taking them to sanctuaries and shelters would help a lot. I do not believe in traumatizing children but carefully showing them what the truth is behind all the meats and dairy they eat and showing them alternatives instead. My art reflects the same compassionate and kind approach, I would say. People have been conditioned to see farm animals differently and it takes patience and love to show them why this view is distorted and based on lies.
What does being vegan mean to you?
Veganism means love to me. It embodies that you understand the concept that every being on this planet is equal and that we all respect each other without exception. Love does not have boundaries and your acceptance of others is limitless. Compassion carries over into every aspect of your life. It is not an extreme point of view, rather a loving and kind one. Vegans shall invite people who have not found the meaning behind veganism yet to join them on their journey by sharing with them what difference it has made for them personally and how it impacts our planet positively. The more people choose to share their knowledge about vegan food, global factors, animal torture, etc. the faster our planet can start healing. It takes patience and activism to get the people’s minds opened and changed. I do not believe in bashing any type of kindness, even if it comes from people or companies representing a different point of view before because the more we invite people over to the side of compassion, love, and forgiveness, the more we can win and contribute to a survival of our planet. We need to act as fast as we can. Everyone can do it. All it takes is to watch documentaries, read books, go to summits, talk to other vegans, experts, scientists. Let’s share knowledge in the era of Internet. Today, we can do this even faster more than ever. We must act before it is too late and our planet cannot recover anymore. Too many animals are going extinct and ultimately, we will go extinct with them if we do not make these life changes now.
Is it every vegan’s duty to become an activist?
Every vegan is standing for something more positive already and makes a tremendous difference in their carbon footprint. It also depends on what you define as activism. Personally, I think any vegan is by default an activist. They are ultimately changing other people’s lives through their own actions. Activism can come in so many forms. Vegans can share their experiences with their family members and friends by simply cooking together. They can also be more actively involved by going to protests, hearings, pig or chicken vigils or by communicating their views through art and/or speeches.
How compassionate or empathetic are you towards non-vegans?
I’m very empathetic toward them because I do not forget that I used to eat and own animal products as well. We are in a brainwashed society. It is sometimes hard to see outside of this bubble and to take in the truth to connect those dots. Therefore, I am coming from a kind space toward the people who are still learning about it.
What’s your favorite Vegan restaurant?
Follow Your Heart in Woodland Hills, California.
Some encouraging words for new Vegans?
Being vegan is quite easy considering how many restaurants and vegan food brands are out there. Social media gives anyone who is still learning about it so much information. It might seem scary at first but I am absolutely open to helping anyone with food, clothing, beauty and make-up brands, etc. questions.
Tastemaker Supply – 100% Vegan Footwear – Pictured – Women’s Taste Artistry (Red)[/caption