I’m Tonya Kay and I am a brutally elegant actress, burlesque headliner, and creator of Tonya Kay’s Pinup Pole Show living in Los Angeles.
What was the moment you realize that you wanted to go vegan?
I was young and performing on tour with Kenny Rogers. One night it was just me and the tour bus driver awake, cruising to the next city. He pulled us over to refuel at a truck stop and, sensing late night hunger, I decided to refuel, too. I walked into the stop and it was like I put on those glasses that reveal the world as it really is – you know, the Truth Glasses. All I saw was neon plastic packaging and all I wanted was food. I was furious, delirious and committed to the vegan diet from my already vegetarian diet out of sheer desire to eat real food and not be controlled by the consumer sickness system.
How long have you been Vegan?
23 years vegan and 14 years high raw vegan.
Why is being Vegan important to you?
My health, my fitness, the environment and the integrity to do what I know is right in this world. My spirit is clean. My skin is clean. My heart is clean. My relationship to the environment and nature is clean. I’m all good with myself and there’s a deep nourishment that comes with that. I respect myself.
Any recommended social sites, Facebook Groups or other?
Please support and follow animal protectors and liberators Animal Defenders International, Performing Animal Welfare Society and Turtle Island Restoration Network. Please support and follow the Environmental Working Group’s research and activism and hint: get all over their Skin Deep app/desktop database. Download Happy Cow app if you want the best community-generated guide to vegan restaurants, shops and stores world-wide.
Do you have a favorite movie or videos or your own media that you want to share?
If you like movies or my acting in movies, watch feature film Bold Native (free online), the animated Rawman and Green Girl series (I’m the voice of Green Girl), here’s a PSA I just shot with several other celebrities and Animal Defenders International backing #TEAPSPA, check out Vegan Fitness: Built Naturally documentary on Youtube and just search for “Tonya Kay Vegan” on Youtube and a hoard of other stuff will come up.
If you prefer to read, here are all the pieces I’ve written on veganism https://www.tonyakay.com/tag/vegan/
If you like to make raw food, here are all my original raw food recipes https://www.tonyakay.com/tag/recipes/
If you like to travel or are concerned about endangered species, you’ll get a kick out of these two in-the-field videos I edited from my volunteer work in Costa Rica
Do you actively promote veganism? How?
I promote veganism in so many ways: red carpet events supporting animal welfare, political rallies, writing and calling my senators, volunteer work with wildlife and habitat protection organizations.
But my favorite vegan activism is also my artistic outlet. I created and produce a popular stage show called Tonya Kay’s Pinup Pole Show. We’ve become known as the “elite sexy vegan athlete-performers”. I didn’t plan it that way, I swear! I hired the strongest performers. They just all ended up being vegetarian and vegan. I like to think they flocked to me! We party the same, we train the same – it’s just so easy to have this bond uniting us. I am very proud of the work we do and the hearts it originates from.
What is the vegan stereotype you hear the most and how do you respond to it?
Because I’m cool with my world, my world reacts cool with me. The stereotype I get about veganism is “You are so healthy”. I receive that stereotype well because I know for me, it’s true.
What’s your favorite Vegan restaurant?
I live in Los Angeles, the vegan panacea. I’ve toured the world and I know from my travels that we Angelinos have it made. This is the place to be if you are vegan! Some of my favorite vegan restaurants in Los Angeles are Au Lac, Wild Living Foods, Plant Food and Wine, Grain Cafe and Kale Quinoa. All serve organic fare, which has become just as important to me as my food being plant-based. The first three serve outstanding raw vegan foods as well.
Please share your favorite vegan recipe?
Cut open an organic avocado, sprinkle with Himalayan salt, a dash of fresh, organic lemon juice and eat with a spoon. Oh, and grapefruit juice popsicles!
Some encouraging words for new Vegans?
You can’t transition forever. Life runs on systems. When you change systems, there’s an awkward period when you have to learn the new system. But you can’t transition forever. At some point, you’ve learned the new system as intimately as you knew the past one and it becomes second nature. As easy as anything you do regularly now.
To lighten the transition, take your time! Give yourself a year or two! Find a supportive community. The people who don’t support you will become intolerable to the updated you and the people who are up to big things will begin showing up – keep your eyes open! And for me, fostering mental health is the most imperative health care there is. Do the inner work. Observe yourself without reacting. Shift moods up a tiny notch four times/day as an exercise. And finally, don’t tell others what to do. Those conversations become tedious over time and are simply low-vibration encounters. You’ve got great shit to do and new growth to manage! Keep your eye on the prize.
What does living cruelty-free mean to you?
Cruelty-free is peace and non-violence with nature and her beings (including one’s self). Cruelty-free is releasing a moth outdoors, not purchasing single-use plastic containers, volunteering with wildlife and habitat protection agencies, kicking the prescription drug habit in favor of natural symbiosis, exercising open-mindedness. Cruelty-free is creating and being a beauty.
What are you favorite Vegan non-food products or companies?
Product of Nature (Farmer You) for seeds and the best micro green sprouting kits on the market. Mad Hippie for cruelty-free, vegan skin care products that have tangible results. RMS and Mineral Fusion for non-toxic, cruelty-free and vegan cosmetics. PACT for organic clothing.
What is the toughest Vegan item to find that you need?
High-quality ballroom dance shoes. I can find satin uppers no problem, but part of the high quality of ballroom shoe design is the flexible and non-gripping suede sole. Rubber is too grippy for pro dancers and risks twisting a knee during directional turns. Rubber also restricts foot pointe and the entire lure of high-end ballroom shoes is that the arch is so flexible, the dancer can literally get a full pointe in the heeled shoe. Fabric soles would allow a full pointe, but are too slippery on dance floors, risking flat out falls. I don’t have the answer here and it’s plagued me my entire professional life. So I’m putting it out there to the high-end ballroom shoe manufacturers; please find a high-end cruelty-free alternative to the commonly-used suede sole – it is worth it.
Talk about a time when you struggled with your Veganism?
On set, all the cast and crew can only eat as healthfully has the crafty and caters are themselves. Lots of craftys consider Trader Joe’s health food – eeeek. Especially in Los Angeles, with all the legitimate self-serving consciousness out here, you’d think the food people would make it their top priority to know how to take care of any type of diet that stepped on their truck. I am a solutions person and I’ve been doing this a really long time (acting and vegan-ing). So I always communicate early with production and offer some supremely easy food ideas. I also bring 4 or 5 fresh juices/day to set ‘just in case’. The best news of all? FINALLY, I’m not the only one. It’s taken decades, but now there are other vegans, vegetarians, high raw fooders, organic, gluten-free, low glycemic and whole food eaters on my gigs. Power in numbers!
What is one question you would ask other Vegans?
Wanna grab a juice? Yes. Yes, I do. Thanks for asking.