Being Vegan, Vegan Being: Alyssa Miller – I’m Deafinitely Vegan!

Tell us about yourself.

I am an artist based in Brooklyn, New York. From 9 to 5, I work as a Web Designer in Manhattan.

In my free time, I am usually either cooking or coming with recipes, painting or hiking. I became a vegan coach because I am so passionate about veganism. I launched Deafinitely Vegan because I felt that veganism isn’t always accessible. Most Youtube videos don’t have captions and I felt that I couldn’t possibly be the only vegan with a hearing loss out there. Currently, I am on Instagram @deafinitelyvegan and my new blog I am hoping to start making youtube videos soon!

What lead you to veganism? How long ago?

When I was little, the concept of eating meat terrified me. I looked at my grandma’s pot roast and my 5-year-old brain was like “that is death.” Unfortunately, I caved to family pressure and reluctantly started eating meat. I was bullied in school a lot. It started when I was about 12, but it got really bad when I was 14. I remember one day a friend of mine told me that she decided to become a vegetarian. I had never heard of that before, so I asked her what it meant. When she explained that she wouldn’t eat meat, it was like the floodgates opened up for me. I felt all those old emotions from when I was 5 and it was magnified by all the stress I was currently going through. That night at dinner, I looked at my plate of food, and then looked at my dog. He always sat by my feet waiting for me to finish eating so he could sit on my lap. I looked at my plate of food, and back at him. I felt horrible and disgusted with myself. Here I was feeling miserable over being bullied and look at what I was eating. My mom loves to tell this part of the story. Usually, I am soft spoken and she says out of the blue in the middle of dinner I looked at her and said, “I’m a vegetarian,” I dug in my heals and was prepared for battle. I wasn’t giving in. I was a vegetarian for about 8 years. I knew of veganism, and often ate vegan, but didn’t know about the cruelty from eggs and dairy. In college, I finally became more educated and transitioned fully to being vegan. I’ve been vegan for almost 6 years now.

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

I actually gave up dairy first. I ate almost transitioned to being dairy free when I was 18. My college campus wasn’t vegan-friendly and I went from eating mostly vegan to heavy dairy and I got very sick. I then cut out dairy. I ate eggs for about another year, but then I finally started doing more research and looking into factory farming and realized my organic cage-free eggs will still cruel and I went vegan. Because I was in school, I didn’t have much non-vegan food to get rid of. Knowing me, anything non-vegan I probably gave to a roommate. For my clothing and makeup, I used up what I had and made sure to replace it with vegan options. I was a broke college student and financially couldn’t afford to throw out all my shoes and start over. I just made sure any new shoes were vegan.

Do you make any exceptions for yourself or if you are married with kids – your family, when it comes to veganism? For example, how strict are you with your children’s veganism at school or at family gatherings?

I am pretty strict about my veganism. I only buy vegan gifts and vegan food for friends and family. I don’t have kids, but I am determined in the future to have vegan pets and a vegan family.

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

I think it depends on the age. With young children, I would bring them to an animal sanctuary to have them play and bond with the animals to develop an understanding of why we are vegan. I don’t think a 3-year-old needs to see factory farming footage, but I think as they get older you can slowly explain some of the facts.

What does being vegan mean to you? For example, does it extend to not killing bugs and bees? Does it include not patronizing vegan companies owned by non-vegan parent companies? Does it affect the way you treat other humans?

Being vegan for me means compassion. I try my hardest to live up to that value and show everyone from animals to humans love and kindness.I will support vegan options at non-vegan establishments because I believe it shows a demand for it. Recently a coffee shop in NYC that used to have a few vegan options became 100% vegan and I don’t think that would have happened with people boycotted them. Honestly though, if I am left to my own, do tend to eat at all vegan places.

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

I think every vegan is an activist in their own way. They have taken a stand and altered their way of life to align with a new set of values. I think the protests are amazing, but those don’t have an effect on everyone. Some people react better to just seeing their coworker eat something vegan and asking questions.

How compassionate or empathetic are you towards non-vegans?

It depends. I can honestly get a little frustrated when someone knows all the facts and agrees that they think factory farming is horrific, cruel, and immoral, plus destroying the environment, but then they look me in the eye and say “but I like meat.” I think it is a weird duality for someone to say that something is against their moral code and upsets them and still support it. But I always try my hardest to respond with kindness at the moment. But I have in the past just ended conversations when I got a strong feeling that the other person’s goal was just to upset me by talking about meat. I don’t mind answering questions about veganism and my reasoning, but I won’t accept bullying and negative energy. Most people aren’t born vegan though and are unaware though and I don’t feel that I should judge them. I have omnivore friends and family members and I don’t love them any less (but I do wish they would be vegan).

Any recommended Vegan books?

Main Street Vegan, The World Peace Diet, and Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear Cows are my favorites

Any recommended social sites, blogs or pages?

I haven’t been watching many vegan YouTubers recently because none of them caption their videos. On Instagram, DEAFinitely checks out @EatPlantsNoAnimals, @Solar_fire_ninja, and @Ultravioletvegan, they are really amazing and caption their content. My favorite blogs are Chocolate Covered Katie, Keepin it Kind, and Oh She Glows.

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

My fave documentaries are either Fruit Hunters or Vegucated

What’s your favorite Vegan restaurant?

That’s hard! Probably either Bunna Café or Caravan of Dreams.

Please share your favorite vegan recipe?

This is my all time favorite meal. This is probably one of the first meals I made when I transitioned to veganism from a vegetarian diet.

Some encouraging words for new Vegans?

Progress, not perfection. If you eat something non-vegan, it happens, you are learning and already making a huge difference in the world. You are human, and we love you.

What is the vegan scene like in your city?

There is a ton of vegan options in NYC, but not a lot of them are healthy. I have PCOS and psoriasis and need to eat gluten free and healthy. I don’t eat out much because it is expensive, and my body can’t handle processed food well. But there are several vegan bakeries, we have a small vegan butcher counter and the options are always growing.

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

Search your area, go on, find a facebook ground. If there isn’t something set up in your area, be proactive and set it up yourself! I’ve heard tons of stories of people who set up a Vegan Group in their area and over the years it became a big thing.

What does living cruelty-free mean to you? Does it extend to the way you as a vegan treats other People?

Cruelty-free to me means trying my best to live in a way that causes the least amount of harm. I understand it is impossible to be 100% cruelty free, my apartment building definitely displaced some animals, but I try my best to do what I can. For treating other humans, I try to be always express love and compassion. If I have a bad day, I reflect on how I could have handled the situation better and I try to learn from it. I believe love and kindness are everything.

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

Living with Harmony Animal Sanctuary. You need to check them out! The founder is the kindest, most selfless person ever. They are an animal sanctuary that care for some really sick animals. They are also trying to raise awareness on sustainability and trying to create a sustainable retreat center for people to learn about veganism, the environment, and overcome emotional trauma. Plus, they also work with Project Save Child, an organization that helps rescue children sold into sex slavery. It is really an amazing organization and to me, everything that veganism stands for.

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

I think shopping in Sephora is hard. I first need to see what is cruelty-free, then next is it vegan. I tend to mostly buy Kat Von D because I outright know her entire line is vegan. Plus I love her makeup.

Talk about a time when you struggled with your Veganism?

Eating out with my grandpa when I first went vegan was a struggle. He wanted to go out to eat to places like IHOP or the local diner and I just couldn’t find a decent vegan option there. He didn’t understand why I was vegan and just wanted me to eat meat. Eventually he got it though and we found some places to eat where we could all be happy. Put transitioning him out of IHOP was a struggle!

Tastemaker Supply – 100% Vegan Footwear – Pictured – Women’s Taste Artistry (Red)[/caption

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