Being Vegan, Vegan Being: Raven Deerbrook – Your Awareness is Your Strength

Tell us a little about yourself.

I moved to Berkeley, CA in the summer after living on the road as an activist. Berkeley has always been a center for social progress, and I’m so excited to be part of the growing community here working for animal liberation.

My home is a little RV, so my expenses are pretty minimal and I work part-time as a freelance photographer. 

When I’m not volunteering, I love to backpack in the wilderness and connect with non-human individuals. I hope to help others nurture friendships with them too, because we really are the same in how we think and feel, even if we look different on the outside.

I’ll be sharing a way to order prints of photos I’ve taken on my Facebook.

What lead you to veganism? How long ago?

I don’t use the vegan label too often anymore because I try to keep the conversation on the victims, and I learned that consumer choices alone won’t protect animals from abuse.  But 25 years ago I was sitting with my family at dinner, and in a moment of clarity, I realized that what had been put on our plates was actually the dead body of an animal.

Like most kids, I wasn’t told the truth about meat. Everyone I looked up to tried to condition me to ignore it.  So I started asking questions to see what else was being kept hidden from me, and began avoiding products that cause other beings to suffer.

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

I was too young to buy anything myself, so I had to pick my way around the foods and clothing I was given. Eventually I taught myself to read labels, and learned how the industry buries the truth, even by obscuring ingredients (“muscle” = “meat”, “congealed bones” =  “gelatin”)

As I embraced friendships with other animals and spent time with them, I couldn’t bare to see their bodies as products, and I eventually buried the skin shoes I had.  I do carry with me an earring made from a feather left by a friend, which has special meaning for me.

Do you make any exceptions for yourself or if you are married with kids – your family, when it comes to veganism?

I don’t think I’ve had to make many exceptions, but people do struggle, especially with things labeled as food. The industry wants us to focus on a heavily disguised product, instead of whose body it’s made from, so it’s important to keep the focus on the victims.

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

I believe we deserve to know the truth, and that children are capable of understanding more than adults might give them credit for.  Many things that taste fine are actually very harmful, and children should understand that just because something might taste okay or someone says it’s okay, doesn’t mean it is.  It’s one thing to tell a story about Santa Claus, it’s another thing to mislead children about what’s being done to animals (who they instinctively cherish). I still feel sad that no adults in my life ever told me, and that I ended up finding out on my own.

What does being vegan mean to you?

I see all beings as equally deserving of their life and right not to be exploited.  I genuinely connect with spiders, bees, crane flies and any other small being, so I take steps to try not to harm them too. And if I accidentally harm them, I recognize that it’s not “okay”, even if it was unavoidable. Our technology will help us solve these problems one day, we just have to care.

Patronizing companies as consumers won’t lead us to animal liberation, no matter who owns them.  But if a company is trying to do something good for the animals, I feel their effort should be considered on its own merits.

I hold so much love and admiration for human beings. Humanity is so amazingly beautiful in our capacity to learn and grow, and as we overcome our struggles, I believe we will achieve something very special on this world, and in the universe.

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

Standing up with love and compassion to protect vulnerable beings from harm is something we can be proud of, not something to fear.  Isn’t it a joy if we can use the strength of our heart to create a better future for everyone?  Even when our voice shakes?

That means educating ourselves and getting active.  Animals need our help today to build the future we all deserve, and voting with our dollars as consumers won’t change laws or uncage our social conscience.

Remember that human beings need our help too. Even those that have been put in a position to do harm, like slaughterhouse workers, are victims of a system of violence that must end. We can help humanity reach its potential if we’re willing to stand up at this moment in history.

How compassionate or empathetic are you towards non-vegans?

I believe human beings, like all beings, deserve compassion.  We should aspire to live in a world without suffering, violence or hate towards anyone, and that includes those who are in animal agriculture, who buy animal products, or even who work against vegans or activists in the present.  None of us are perfect, and as long as our heart beats, I believe we can seek the truth and change.

Any recommended Vegan books?

My favorite book is Charlotte’s Web.

Any recommended social sites, blogs or pages?

Direct Action Everywhere & Instagram: @directactioneverywhere

Live Kindly & Instagram: @livekindlyco ,

Plant Based News & Instagram: @plantbasednews ,

Earthling Ed and the Surge campaign: @surgeactivism ,

Chris Delforce (director of Dominion) and Aussie Farms: https://aussiefarms.org.au

Animal Rebellion: @animal_rebellion , https://animalrebellion.org

The Save Movement (there could be a chapter near you): https://thesavemovement.org

Anonymous for the Voiceless (“AV”): https://anonymousforthevoieless.org

Moby (activist): @moby

Almira Tanner (activist): @almiratheactivist

Joaquin Phoenix (activist): @joaquinphoenixacto

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

I do sometimes make short films on Youtube under the channel named “restless doe.”

What’s your favorite Vegan restaurant?

Little Pine in Los Angeles is my favorite restaurant, which is owned by Moby!

Please share your favorite vegan recipe.

My favorite meal to make myself is a Buddha bowl. They’re full of macro nutrients, proteins, and are easy to change up.  I suggest making enough cooked food for a few days of meals, like  quinoa, squash, potatoes or anything else you feel like, but veggies are always best fresh:

  • Take a bowl or curved plate and put down a bed of mixed, dark leafy greens of your choice.
  • Arrange small portions of raw tomato, cucumber and/or peas.
  • Add ½ of a ripe, raw avocado, sliced.
  • Add one or two portions of pickled or fermented veggies, such as carrots, beets or sauerkraut.
  • Add some shelled edamame and/or extra firm marinated tofu (savory or teriyaki).
  • Add a little broth-cooked grains or hearty veg, like quinoa or roasted butternut quash.
  • Drizzle with your favorite dressing, or try making your own by combining a little tahini + apple cider vinegar + soy sauce + lemon juice.
  • Top it off with a sprinkle of unsalted pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds.
  • As a bonus, add seaweed for extra umami flavor, or a side of sourdough bread.

Try different combinations until you find one that feels like harmony.  Remember to keep each addition small since we’re using a lot of variety.

Some encouraging words for new Vegans?

Your awareness is a strength. You’ve already seen through the humane lie, so keep educating yourself.  Remember that farmers are good people at heart; they were born into the system the way it is, and some of them were even traumatized as children.  Please learn how to speak out for our non-human friends with love, knowledge and nonviolence. Inspire yourself by going to a Save vigil, a Cube of Truth, or join a DxE chapter. Even chalktivism can turn feelings of helplessness into hopefulness, and help you connect with your inner-activist.  Remember to take care of yourself and practice creating peace within

What is the vegan scene like in your city?

I’ve lived in cities across the USA, and they are all amazing in different ways. But the Bay has an especially big heart, so there are a lot of inspiring people here who see why violence towards animals is so important for us to leave behind. To me California means compassion.

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

Getting active is the definitely the best way to meet other vegans. You’ll meet people speaking up for animals who feel the same way you do, and you’ll help empower each other through friendships stronger than what you might build through a potluck (but those are fun too!).

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

Being cruelty-free and non-speciesist means recognizing how actions cause harm to others, and living with the best intentions to minimize them. It’s about not fearing the truth, even if it challenges us, and seeing that humans are guided by the same fundamental experience as all beings.

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

I admire Sea Shepherd for taking bold, nonviolent action by putting themselves between whales and those who try to kill them.  As far as brands, Pacifica has always been one of my favorites, as well as Miyoko Schinner (for her outreach to help dairy farmers switch to plants, as much as her amazing Miyoko’s cheese).

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

Ever since I started eating mostly whole-plant based, I haven’t had to worry about finding special products really.  I also live on a pretty small budget, so I can’t afford too many processed foods. I did recently need to buy black dress shoes for an action, and I had to look a little while, but I found a pair second-hand for $16.

Talk about a time when you struggled with your Veganism?

One struggle for me has been driving a vehicle.  I know that driving puts other individuals at risk, and that it’s almost always optional.  So I make an exception to drive, hoping I don’t hurt any small beings or anyone else, and only do it when there isn’t another accessible option.  But I love to walk, and I always meet new faces on the way to where I’m going, so I’m driving a lot less now thankfully.

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