Being Vegan, Vegan Being: Shannon Hunter – Owner of Wild Journey Life Coaching

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Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m Shannon! I currently live in Portland, Oregon and enjoy any and everything outdoors! I hold a Masters degree in Wilderness Therapy and I’m the owner of Wild Journey Life Coaching and a health and wellness coach for another organization!

What lead you to veganism? How long ago? 

I went vegetarian when I was 16 (so 18 years ago!) after finally making the connection between my pets at home and the animals on my plate. I’d loved animals my entire life and had felt such a deep connection with them and I just didn’t feel right eating them anymore. After learning how absolutely horrible the dairy and egg industry was, I went vegan two years later, at age 18.  My veganversary is in January, so I’ve been vegan for nearly 16 1/2 years!

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

I have to say, going vegan in 2003 was HARD. There weren’t nearly as many options, I lived in pretty rural California, and I had no idea how to cook. So, I taught myself how to cook, I bought vegan cookbooks, and I completely immersed myself in the lifestyle. It wasn’t a super hard transition for me, however, I did slip up a few times for sure. But who says you have to be perfect? I was always moving forward and trying my best. I didn’t own many non-vegan, non-food items, so that part was pretty easy. I think the hardest part was being sure I wasn’t buying items that were tested on animals but that soon became second-nature.

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

I’ve chosen not to have children and I luckily have family members that are extremely accepting of my choice to be vegan – I have even helped them integrate more vegan meals! I try my best to eat strictly vegan and I also know that sometimes, especially when traveling, it can be more difficult to ensure everything is vegan. I always try my best, though!

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

I think there are definitely ways to start exposing kids to where this type of “food” actually comes from. There are some fantastic vegan kids books that do this in a great way! And, honestly, I think helping kids cultivate their empathy (for other people, animals, the earth, etc.) can only help in our movement.

What does being vegan mean to you?

Being vegan means doing the absolute best you can to not cause harm to other living beings – including bugs and humans. The less harm I can do the better. To me, vegan means not just eating incredible vegan food, but also educate others in a tactful way, support vegan-owned business (especially local ones!), and being their for other humans who want to start integrating more vegan-friendly practices into their lives.

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

I think every vegan can find a way to participate in the movement beyond just eating great vegan food! Activism can come in so many forms and really finding where you fit as a vegan in this movement can deepen the connection you can have to yourself, animals, the earth, and other humans. I do believe that choosing how to spend your money, in and of itself, can be activism, but finding an even more specific cause can just connect you so much more!

How compassionate or empathetic are you towards non-vegans? 

I used to have SUCH disdain for nonvegans and would just be super angry that they didn’t choose compassion and choose this lifestyle. As I’ve aged, I’ve found way more compassion for non-vegans. From my experience, I haven’t found being mean to non-vegans to be effective. There are going to be those a**holes that just want to try to take digs at you and who want to try to hurt you, but I just let it go – it’s not worth it because there are a dozen other people who will be receptive to your message!

Any recommended Vegan books?

I LOVE Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s books/cookbooks. Her’s are still some of my favorites and most of her recipes are so tasty and healthy! If I had kids, I would say the books “That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals” by Ruby Roth too!

Any recommended social sites, blogs or pages?

Hot for Food. Enough said.

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

I don’t but I do HIGHLY recommend Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s podcast “Food for Thought” – she is incredibly eloquent and addresses so many incredible topics. She is a major reason why I am so passionate about this movement.

What’s your favorite Vegan restaurant?

My favorite vegan restaurant has since closed – Restaurare in Tulum, Mexico, however I’m also obsessed with Ichiza Kitchen here in Portland, Oregon!

Please share your favorite vegan recipe?

(this makes a lot!) 

Mac and Cheeze

What You Need:

  • 12 quarts water
  • 3 tablespoon sea salt
  • 3 cups macaroni
  • 12 slices of bread, torn into large pieces
  • 6 tablespoons (for bread crumbs)
  • 6 tablespoons shallots, peeled and chopped
  • 3 cup red or yellow potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 3/4 cup carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup onion, peeled and chopped
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 cup vegan butter
  • 3/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1 Tbsp sea salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 3/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons Nooch
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne

What You Do:

  1. In a large pot, bring the water and salt to a boil. Add macaroni and cook until al dente. In a colander, drain pasta and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
  2. In a food processor, make breadcrumbs by pulverizing the bread and 2 tablespoons margarine to a medium-fine texture. Set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a saucepan, add shallots, potatoes, carrots, onion, and water, and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and simmer for 15 minutes, or until vegetables are very soft.
  4. In a blender, process the cashews, salt, garlic, 1/3 cup margarine, mustard, lemon juice, black pepper, and cayenne. Add softened vegetables and cooking water to the blender and process until perfectly smooth.
  5. In a large bowl, toss the cooked pasta and blended cheese sauce until completely coated. Spread mixture into a 9 x 12 casserole dish, sprinkle with prepared breadcrumbs, and dust with paprika. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese sauce is bubbling and the top has turned golden brown.

Some encouraging words for new Vegans?

Try your best, remember why you’re doing this, and be kind!

What is the vegan scene like in your city? 

Poppin’! Portland is, as some may know, so amazing and full of not only amazing vegan restaurants of all kinds but also the BEST vegan grocery store, a vegan tattoo shop, and amazing vegan/animal-based organizations!

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

Meetup can be a great way to find fellow vegans! I also really love volunteering at animal sanctuaries or getting involved with animal-related organizations!

What does living cruelty-free mean to you?

It does! I hope to live by example and be respectful and as kind as possible to all beings.

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

I don’t buy many things so I don’t really have favorites unfortunately.

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

Honestly, after having been vegan in the early 2000s, nothing really feels that inaccessible, especially living in Portland! I guess I would say I would love to see more vegan products that use more eco-friendly packaging!

Talk about a time when you struggled with your Veganism?

For awhile it was incredibly hard to find outdoor gear (hiking boots, climbing shoes, etc.) that didn’t have leather but it’s way easier now! 

Excellent for those long PNW hikes.

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