I’m a vegan activist and aspiring designer living in Los Angeles. I love using social media to help mainstream veganism- I love photos, writing, and have even met so many friends this way. Upon learning someone is vegan, many people assume that a person is a weird hippie with a sucky life who eats grass. A popular questions I’ve always gotten is “So… what do you eat?” I hope that by sharing my version of a vegan lifestyle- someone who loves to explore a city, try new restaurants, and go out to fun events- that I can show people that vegans can lead great lives with delicious food. Regarding products, I truly we believe that we will change the world with the way we spend our money, and it’s my dream to create product lines that are vegan and ethically-made, as I believe they all should have been all this time.
What was the moment you realize that you wanted to go vegan?
I was vegetarian for a year before I became vegan. I always say it’s the Kardashians who changed my life! I was at the gym and watching Keeping Up With The Kardashians, and they had an episode where Khloe worked with PETA, and showed a slaughterhouse video. That turned me vegetarian on the spot. I cried for 3 days and held my dog, because in that instant, I realized 1) that cow that was hurting was just like my dog, and it’s just society who told me otherwise, which is why some cultures hurt dogs, 2) there is an entire systemic implementation of slaughter, old white men probably in a room discussing which killing methods save costs, architects building slaughterhouses- an entire industry full of highly intelligent people who are using their intelligence to ultimately profit off of someone’s body parts. On the other hand, going vegan was a lot more fun! Our real estate agent invited my mom and I to a fabulous PCRM event, since he had extra tickets. The party was full of beautiful people, movie stars, Leona Lewis performed, Dr. Heimlich of the Heimlich maneuver spoke, there was an fantastic multi-course meal, and a presentation given by doctors about why we need to go vegan for our health, the environment, and for the animals. They also spoke about animal testing on dogs, which was really powerful. The clincher for me was hearing a woman call milk “bovine slime,” which shook me to my core that dairy was really bodily fluids! I left the event saying, “Well, I guess I’m vegan now!” (kinda angrily, lol) because the evidence was so compelling I couldn’t think of living otherwise. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and has changed my life for the better! I am so grateful for these experiences and the people that helped shaped the course of my life.
How long have you been Vegan?
I’ve been vegan for 8 years now. We have really come a long way in this short amount of time. Especially vegan cheese! I would say that I wish I had been brought up this way- but I’m also glad that my former love of Omni food allows me to relate to nonvegans in a way that can pique their interest. I think that’s one of my biggest strengths in my activism, is that I’m not going to BS anyone and say something vegan is delicious when it’s not because I still hold the highest of high standards for food. I think people appreciate that.
Why is being Vegan important to you?
I always say that veganism is important to me because I want to save the planet for future generations of puppies to live on! I love dogs so much and to see other animals who are just like them, hurting, is not okay. We can, and we have to, do better. Another thing, is that if you can make distinctions between one species who have to live, what’s stopping you from also discriminating against another race, gender, or sexual orientation? Believing you are better than someone else, is the root of this “dominator paradigm.” When we can treat everyone around us with respect, humanity, animals, and the environment- everyone will benefit and thrive.
Any recommended Vegan books?
I have an extensive collection of vegan cookbooks. Any recipe from Chloe Coscarelli or Isa Chandra Moskowitz are always a hit, especially Chloe for sweet and Isa for savory. 1000 Vegan Recipes by Robin Robertson is great if you want a ton of variety. I always tell people that they can try recipes online by the authors before buying their books. The China Study and How Not To Die are great if you want to learn about nutrition. Thought I haven’t read it yet, Melanie Joy is one of my favorite vegan speakers, and she has a book I’m getting to soon called “Beyond Beliefs.” It’s about how to have kind conversations between vegans, vegetarians, and carnists (a term she coined for omnivores).
Any recommended social sites, Facebook Groups or other?
I highly recommend getting on Instagram and finding vegans local to your area! It’s really easy to find people going to the same restaurants and events as you, and then connecting in real life. Get together and cook, go to restaurants, etc. MeetUp is another great place to find local vegans. I’m telling you, all my vegan friends are from social media! I have had people reach out to me and invite me to lunch or coffee, which is totally flattering and I have a great time and have new friends this way, and I will also walk right up to someone and tell them I love their Instagram! Moral of all this: don’t be shy! Everyone wants new vegan friends.
Here are some of my favorite resources:
For nutrition: The China Study, anything by PCRM, Nutritionfacts.org, Mr & Mrs Vegan Tumblr, Kimberly Snyder, Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness/ Robert Cheeke
For lifestyle Inspiration: Rawvana, FullyRawKristina, BonnyRebecca
For recipe ideas: NikkiVegan (my favorite YouTube channel!), Mary’s Test Kitchen on YouTube, Hot For Food on YouTube
For fitness: Naturally Stefanie, Bianca Taylor, Zuzka Light (is vegan-friendly)
For great food photos: VeganFatKid, JackieSobon, MinimalistBaker
For vegan Beauty/ Trends: Viva Glam Magazine, Katarina Van Derham, Hannah Hagler
For a vegan conversation/news: Nisha Balsara/ Lose Your Veganity, Jane Velez-Mitchell Facebook Live, The Vegan View
Do you have a favorite movie or videos or your own media that you want to share?
My YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzBQ_QN-XrHKVhy6SNfzbrA Please watch how your food is made if you are still consuming animal products. Mercy For Animals has been so great at this, that they have even gotten different animal welfare laws passed. If you can buy someone, eat them, and support their slaughter, surely you can see how he or she got to your plate.
Do you actively promote veganism? How? Please share any stories you would like.
Besides my social media, where I let people come to me, I think one of the best things we can do is be kind to people. There is a stereotype, based on truth, that vegans will argue with you and be mean. I think that some people I know will never become vegan, but if I can be a shining example of a cool person, I think that person will think twice before talking about how much they hate vegans. Our community has some work to get rid of the mean-spirited reputation, which I totally understand because it’s millions of lives that are at stake, but you have to think about the end-game. Is your meanness effective in converting someone? If so, keep it up, but I have a feeling it’s because you’re misplacing your passion when you could be using it for something more effective.
What is your favorite Vegan meme?
Oh, I have way too many favorites! @VegSource on Instagram is great, and there’s also a cartoonist who makes really great memes, I’m blanking on their name.
What is the vegan stereotype you hear the most and how do you respond to it?
The vegan stereotype I hear the most is that my food must be terrible. So, I offer people my delicious food and take photos showing how beautiful my food is. It works!
What’s your favorite Vegan restaurant?
Honestly, cooking at home is my favorite! And there are so many wonderful restaurants in LA and Portland. I really love how restaurants like Shojin, Crossroads, and Gracias Madre have really raised the bar for the ambiance that makes them great places to go out. But truly, you’re more likely to see me at casual local Thai restaurants like The Vegan Joint or Satdha. I love going out by myself, being comfy, and sitting down to a delicious Thai food meal.
Please share your favorite vegan recipe?
Before I was vegan, I was known for making the best fish tacos. They are easily veganized with tempeh!
For beer-battered tempeh
Oil (Canola, Safflower)
1 package tempeh
1-2 cups flour
For lime mayo
green cabbage (or purple to mix it up)
Tortillas of choice
To make the lime mayo:
Add lime juice to vegan mayo, with salt and pepper. I like to make it as limey as possible without turning it into a liquid.
To make the beer battered tempeh:
Cut the tempeh into bite-size taco pieces, maybe 1 inch by 2 inches.
Heat oil in a pan. It’s ready when a drop of the batter sizzles when dropped into it.
Add a cup of flour into a bowl, and add some salt and pepper. Add some beer into it, which will start to form a paste. No need to mix it- just take some of the tempeh and swirl it around, then drop it in the oil. You’ll want to use a little bit of beer at a time, continuing to use more. It’s better when this paste is fresh. Continue adding the beer-battered tempeh pieces to the pan, which may need to be done in batches. Flip when they are golden brown. When they’re done, place them on paper towels on a plate. Taste for salt, and add more if needed.
Start by warming your tortillas in a pan.
Then, add lime mayo to tortillas.
Add 3-5 pieces of your beer-battered tempeh.
Top with cilantro and green cabbage.
If you like, add hot sauce and avocado (I like it this way).
Enjoy! Crunchy, limey, creamy, cabbagey, cilantro-y. The perfect vegan fish taco!
Some encouraging words for new Vegans?
To new vegans: don’t let anyone discourage you! You’re doing the right thing for your health, the environment, and the animals. It takes a lot of guts to do what you’re doing, and there’s an army of great people who have your support. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a community that has your back.
What does living cruelty-free mean to you?
Living cruelty-free means that I do the best I can, to the best of my ability, to do as little harm as possible. Sometimes that means shopping in a grocery store that also sells meat, or buying a vegan leather product from a store that also sells leather. To me, it’s about progress, not perfection.
What are you favorite Vegan non-food products or companies?
Does a drink company count? Breakaway Matcha is amazing and was referred to me by @colorsofmytea on Instagram, who is a matcha connoisseur. They’re a vegan product by default and worth mentioning because they are that good.
I love Kat Von D eyeliner and liquid lipstick, they are everyday staples! A nonvegan friend in the beauty industry even says the eyeliner is her favorite ever. I am learning more about beauty and wellness products through Petit Vour’s monthly subscription box.
What is the toughest Vegan item to find that you need?
Eyelash growth serum! Would also love vegan prosciutto and brie cheese.
Talk about a time when you struggled with your Veganism?
When I first went vegan, I was already selling a vegetarian product. I told myself that I would only support the best dairy companies. Eventually, I stopped- it wasn’t worth it because I knew it wasn’t right to support any dairy companies. It was all full of sugar and corn syrup anyway- I’m glad I stopped!
What is one question you would ask other Vegans? Please answer it.
Here’s a conversation I would like to start. When I went vegan, it started me off on a journey, because I thought, “if I didn’t know about veganism, and how much better it can make everything, what else don’t I know??” I was especially impressed that it made my asthma and memory problems go away after years of doctors and medications. That led me to meditation, holistic health, spirituality, crystals, herbal remedies, happiness, hygge, ikigai, The Blue Zones, etc. I think some vegans believe that this diet and lifestyle is the end-all, be-all of everything right with the world, but someone with horrible depression, for example, can try a vegan diet and still suffer problems with immunity, brain fog, and more, and they might say the diet didn’t work for them. I’d ask other vegans: if veganism worked so fantastically for you, why not explore other great things that may make your life better, too?