Being Vegan, Vegan Being: Drea Michelle – We Must have Compassion for All Living Beings

My name is Andrea, my friends and family call me Drea, it’s kind of funny timing, today I am 34 years earth strong, and my birthday also marks the time of year when I made my decision to become vegan and live a cruelty-free lifestyle 4 years ago. It also marks the timing of when I met and fell in love with my partner who is also vegan and has been for 22 years! Needless to say, he has been a huge part of my journey. I’m a Cali girl born and raised, was born in Sacramento, eventually moved to Ocean Beach, San Diego when I was 25. I love Southern California weather, but my heart is the Northern California rivers and mountains. That realization, and meeting my partner, a life guided me to Mendocino County in Northern California where I’ve been for the past 4 years. I used to manage a photography studio in Granite Bay near Sacramento for 4 years and had worked in customer service and business management for 8 years at that point, and I was honestly tired of not using my talents to their full potential, and completely exhausted of energy for my own passions and creativity. So that is the moment I decided to become a travel /nature /creative photographer and started my business Eye Dream Creations, and Cruelty-Free Photography came later. I started Cruelty-Free Photography in 2015 as I traveled and saw the need for compassionate photography and more ethical standards in my field of work. I’m developing currently and will be functional by summer, my Instagram is @eyedreamcreativephotography.

There was a span of an 8 year process and experience that led me to the life and spiritual decision to go vegan, 8 years, that is a long processing time. My father died of cancer when I was 19, he was my best friend so this was very difficult for me. At this time the doctors gave him Ensure since he could only eat a liquid diet. For those of you who don’t know the ingredients, it is dairy and sugar, two things of which I know now to cause acidity in your blood, which is a breeding ground for cancer to thrive in your body. I should have been jolted to assess my diet at that point in my life, but it took a bit longer. I had major food addictions, like so many people I know. You are raised eating a certain way in the inner city, and it’s an overwhelming thought at first, to have to change every single flavor and food craving I had. I first gave up dairy when I was 26 because of my skin. I had cystic acne from eating dairy my entire young adult life, and didn’t know until I was told it could help my skin. This was also around the time my sister was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, and she became raw vegan for a year, and completely healed herself! Very inspiring, and undeniable that her diet was the reason for her recovery. Very quickly I started only eating organic food, mostly Whole Foods, fish and seafood was still a staple in my diet at the time. That went on for about 3 years. I became a minimalist, only buying from thrift stores, buying mostly bulk foods with least amount of packaging, reading about diet, nutrition, and holistic health. Yet I was on the right path, I had no idea what was in store for me! I decided not to eat meat after I caught and killed a Yellowtail in the Pacific, it was tragic, and I could see in its eyes it wanted to live and not be my food. It changed something inside of me, and I could no longer ignore my inner knowing. That was 6 years ago! Still took two more years of eating pasture-raised eggs and local honey, and by early 2014 I thought, enough is enough! I’m making this decision for the animals, for those without a voice, for those beautiful souls who I want to be my friends not my food! Vegan and cruelty free ever since, and in every part of my life, the fashion and beauty products as well.

Being vegan is important to me because

I will not support the torture and imprisonment of animal beings for food, fashion, or beauty, and I believe that the world is starting to open up to and crossing over to that idea and way of living as well. Although I am a very tolerant vegan, I see the value in being tolerant and patient with everyone’s journey to living a cruelty-free lifestyle, as you know from my story it took me quite a long time to completely cross over. For me, I think that the most important decision for everyone to make, vegan or not, is to not support factory farming of animals anymore. It’s absolutely awful, disgusting, and as human beings, I believe we are better than this and we need to live up to our potential. Now is the time! It can no longer be taboo, and we can no longer be apathetic to this huge problem we are facing. It’s not only cruel for the animals, it’s unhealthy for our bodies and our planet, to farm this way, on such a large scale. We need to end factory farming now!

I have a library of vegan books and recipe books, but I’m going to throw in a curve ball. The books I have read that inspired me the most with my vegan values is The Essene Gospel of Peace series. I am not religious per say, I do though feel very connected to spirit, God, and Goddess, and I believe that all paths to spirituality have some truth to them. These Essene scriptures are more like beautiful poetry and truly reach my heart. In these scriptures, diet is highly discussed and reviewed, and they believe that for our bodies to be in tune with spirit and God, they must be pure and we must never eat Animals. They’re absolutely stunning books, must read!

I believe there are a few vegan stereotypes, one being that we don’t have any tasty food, everything we eat is bland, and people often ask “what can you eat?” .. haha, that’s my exact response, I laugh, because most people have no idea that nowadays there is pretty much every flavor I can want, in the vast range of vegan products now made! If the person is genuinely interested I will share recipes, or even make time to cook with them. Even when cooking and baking at home, I don’t ever have to sacrifice flavor! It’s incredible, it’s just hard at first when you’re changing over because you are in the experimental stage, re- learning all the recipes you used to make, with different ingredients, it can be intimidating! Visit my vegan lifestyle page on Instagram, Eye Dream Vegan, I have many easy, quick, organic vegan recipes for you to try! My favorite is the curry.

I love traveling and trying new vegan restaurants, especially now since there is a major boom of veg restaurants popping up everywhere. I visit Santa Rosa often, they now have Amy’s drive-thru, burgers, fries, shakes, pizzas, chili fries, Mac n cheese, all organic and vegan! The Bay Area is filled with vegan restaurants, Berkeley is really happening for us vegans right now. The Butchers Son, off of University Ave, offers a menu full of deli sandwiches, fried ravioli, homemade veg deli meats, cheeses, bread, and pastries, 100% vegan! So delicious. Pepples donuts, Cinnaholic, Saturn cafe, Souley Vegan Soul food, I mean the options there are truly endless.

As for beauty products and fashion, I absolutely love Pacifica and Mineral Fusion makeup, I can get every desired look with their gorgeous line of cruelty-free make up! Potions cosmetics makes a wonderful matte lipstick too, check them out on Etsy! Vegetarian shoes from Europe at , they ship worldwide, and have the latest, dopest cruelty-free shoe trends out there! Doc Martins and Birkenstock’s make a Vegan line of shoes too now!

For you new vegans out there, or those thinking of starting to switch to the cruelty-free lifestyle, be patient with the v journey, it can be overwhelming but know you’re on the right path, you are supported and loved, these animals whose lives you are affecting are worth it!

One question I have to my vegan brothers and sisters is this; how can we turn more people on to vegan and cruelty-free living, without being pushy and turning people off?

I have found a balance of having tolerance and being intuitive in conversation, to know when to discuss certain topics, and knowing if the conversation is wanted by the other party, and if they are interested. When we find this beautiful way of living, we are excited about it, it’s like finding a treasure, you want to show the world this treasure you found, but to be truly affective, and to inspire others, we must do by action, and with tolerance, not being judgmental and radical. It’s hard because we know there are suffering animals out there, and we can not be idle while this suffering is happening, but we must have compassion for all living beings, human and animals alike.

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