My name is Sierra Burton (@sielburt) and I’m a 2017 graduate of the University of Southern California with degrees in Neuroscience and Honors in Multimedia Scholarship from the School of Cinematic Arts. I currently live in Carmel, CA but will return to Los Angeles next year for post-baccalaureate studies and to pursue a medical doctor degree soon after. Studies aside, I spend the rest of my time promoting veganism through my Instagram and Facebook pages.
What was the moment you realize that you wanted to go vegan?
I was introduced to plant-based foods during a summer break two years ago. My mother had adopted a 28-day plant-based challenge several months before and she was keen to have me try it out. I also did it as a way to save money; I could choose to spend my money eating out or I could save my money by eating the plant-based food I already had at home. After a few days of eating plant-based meals, I felt less of a mental fog, I had more energy, I didn’t need as many hours of sleep, my workouts were improving (swimming & running), and I was losing weight. I felt great and chose to stick with plant-based foods. However, I did not understand why folks were so passionate about veganism – for animals in particular – until I decided to do some research a few months later. While researching, I came across a video on Instagram from suggested pages. The video showed a cow being slaughtered in a slaughterhouse. I could not peel my eyes away from my screen. I felt horrified, heart-broken, and guilty for ever being someone who once contributed to animal abuse and suffering by consuming or using animal products. It was that video that solidified my resolve to go from just plant-based to vegan, in all aspects of my life.
How long have you been Vegan?
I’ve been vegan since May 16th, 2015.
Why is being Vegan important to you?
Being Vegan is important to me because of my deep love and appreciation for animals. It is important to recognize that all beings amongst us are worthy of life, love, safety, and the pursuit of happiness… regardless of species.
Any recommended Vegan books?
-Finding Ultra, Rich Roll. This was a great read for me specifically because I also identify with athletes. Like my own narrative, Rich has a background in swimming; his perspective on plant-based eating and the relationship to his current training is what sparked my interest most. The book is also inspiring if anyone is looking to find motivation.
-Eat & Run, Scott Jurek. Again, this is another athlete-centric, plant-based book. The neat part of this book is that Scott also provides plant-based recipes for readers to try at the end of each chapter.
–The China Study, T. Colin Campbell. This is a long read, but well worth it if anyone is interested in the nutrition aspect of veganism.
–Comfortably Unaware, Dr. Richard Oppenlander. This read delves into how the food we choose to eat is killing us and our planet. It goes into animal-ag and it’s negative impact on the environment.
Any recommended social sites, Facebook Groups or other?
I frequently peruse veganyackattack.com. Jackie has some delicious recipes on her blog; I particularly love her recipes because she likes to “Mac N Cheese” plenty of dishes.
Msvegan.com is another favorite of mine; she recently made a beyond meat burger with a mac n cheese bun. Each of these bloggers has an Instagram page as well. Other recommended follows are Mercy for Animals, The Humane League, Farm Sanctuary, Gentle Barn, Rich Roll, James Aspey, @plantbasedlogic for vegan memes, @vegangirl4ever @veganfatkid for vegan options in Los Angeles, @applesandamandas for how to eat vegan in college or in a dorm. Barnivore.com for a list of vegan alcohol. LeapingBunny.org for a list of cruelty-free brands.
Do you have a favorite movie or videos or your own media that you want to share?
What The Health is a current favorite of mine. I’m also working on my own short documentary titled, “Chew On This” – it examines the cognitive dissonance displayed in food choice. Interviews and more information can be found at sierraburton.com/chewonthis.
Do you actively promote veganism? How? Please share any stories you would like.
If it isn’t my fork or camera doing the talking, then it’s what I wear that does it for me. I sport plenty of vegan t-shirts wherever I go and ever so often (aside from stares or raised eyebrows) someone asks me about the shirt. It’s a form of activism that allows me to engage in a conversation with someone about veganism… hopefully, that encourages them to change their habits.
What is your favorite Vegan meme?
What is the vegan stereotype you hear the most and how do you respond to it?
Plenty of non-vegans think I just eat salad. It’s usually the only thing provided at events, especially where the chef doesn’t have experience with vegan food or its preparation. In response? I open up my Instagram to show them my page where there is more than just salad. We have vegan big macs, tacos, donuts, cinnamon buns, massive breakfast plates with tofu omelets and tempeh sausage, burritos, ice cream, churros, pizza… I show them that anything non-vegan can be made vegan and it’s delicious.
What’s your favorite Vegan restaurant?
Please share your favorite vegan recipe?
Some encouraging words for new Vegans?
I encourage all new vegans to keep learning about veganism whenever possible and to ask questions when they need help.
What does living cruelty-free mean to you?
Cruelty-Free is the embodiment of feminism. It means my dollar is going to companies and experiences that do not harm, exploit, or kill animals for profit. Cruelty-free means recognizing the sentience of another being and applying the same value of your own life to their life in turn.
What are you favorite Vegan non-food products or companies?
What is the toughest Vegan item to find that you need?
I did not have a problem finding what I needed while living in Los Angeles. Living in Carmel is a different story; there are a lot less vegan options in super markets here than what I am used to. It’s also a bit of a researching game to figure out which restaurants have vegan options AND if the options are truly vegan once getting there. I’ve found that many people here simply do not understand what vegan food does and does not include.
Talk about a time when you struggled with your Veganism?
I struggled with it my second year at USC. I was a vegan-friendly in a freshman dormitory, which meant I had a meal plan. I lived that year on potatoes (if I wasn’t out at a restaurant) because there weren’t many vegan-friendly options in the dining halls. The options that were available often tasted like what a non-vegan would expect vegan food to taste like. It was disappointing, to say the least.
What is one question you would ask other Vegans? Please answer it.
I would ask other Vegans what their goal is.
“My goal is to show other people that they don’t have to sacrifice taste while leaving animals off their plate.”