Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Annalisa G. Dunker, also known as Inanna (my name as a singer and performer). I was born and raised in a small town near Venice (Italy), where I began my studies and career in music, dance and theater. At 22 I moved to Barcelona (Spain) and I spent 10 years there, expanding knowledge in the arts, meeting people from all over the world, opening horizons. Two years ago I moved to California, where I now live and continue my artistic journey in music and performance, in my little dance studio in Pasadena. I am totally and utterly in love with Los Angeles and California!
I have been singing and dancing since I was a child, but only a year ago I found my true purpose in music: singing about nature, animals, the future and the relationship between humans and our planet. My growing concerns about climate change, factory farming and treatment of animals, deforestation and pollution in general, made me decide that I wanted my music to become an emotional tool for change, I wanted it to DO something, to invite to better choices, to be activist music. And so Inanna was born.
Find me online here:
What lead you to veganism? How long ago?
I became vegan about 2 and a half years ago, after more than 15 years as a vegetarian with occasional (almost null) fish consumption. I had never felt good about eating a sentient being, so I had chosen vegetarianism, but unfortunately only a little more than 2 years ago I discovered what happened behind the scenes in the dairy and egg industry all over the world. I documented myself, watched videos and read articles, and I soon realized that the best choice for the animals, for my health and for the planet was clear and inevitable: to be vegan.
When you first went vegan how did you phase out your non-vegan food, clothing and other items?
It was actually quite easy, because in these last years the offer of vegan substitutes for cheese, eggs and meats has grown exponentially, so I never felt like I “missed” anything, I just picked the vegan version. Also, after you realize what happens in the industry, you just don’t want to support it anymore and it makes it easier to pick healthier, more ethical, and more sustainable food. As for clothing, I didn’t have many leather, fur or animal-derived items, so I simply stopped buying objects that contained animal products in general. I am also paying much more attention to the beauty items I get, I always make sure they are not animal tested and possibly organic and sustainable.
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 married to a Norwegian environmental philosopher who turned vegan with me approximately at the same time: he also figured that it didn’t make sense to write about environmental issues and not eating in the best way possible for the planet and the animals. We do not have children and I am not sure if we will have, but if we do, they will surely be vegan! I hope the next generations will all be and that in some years eating animal products will be seen as something completely obsolete.
Do you believe we should show children the process of how animals are turned into meats?
I believe children should be aware of where those products come from and what they are made of. Many children nowadays don’t even know that some products were an animal once. It was deeply traumatic even for me to see certain images (that I will remember and bring forever in my heart), but I think children should be exposed to the truth: maybe not necessarily through gruesome images of truth, but maybe through metaphor and storytelling, through vegan stories and short films addressed to children. The children of today are the ones who will teach compassion to the children of tomorrow, and they should know the reality of an industry we have to end, altogether.
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?
Great question. I do not kill bugs or bees, if they are in the room, we try to send them away. I would defend myself against an animal only in the case the animal was trying to attack me or kill me.
It is tricky to support non-vegan companies who are launching vegan products, but I think that if we all show that we just buy their vegan products instead of the other ones, they will all eventually switch to plant-based foods. So I definitely support that change is coming also within the companies who have and who still are exploiting animals, because they are learning that we are asking for a more compassionate and ethical way of living.
When I watched footage of factory farms (from all over the world), I got very disappointed with humanity and I couldn’t (I still can’t) believe what horrors humans can do: to other people, to animals, to nature. And even if I carry that feeling, I still believe in humans a lot, in their capacity of change, of making the better choice, of coming together and finding a better balance. I believe that spreading change for better habits and practices has to come from a position of love, interest and compassion for everyone.
Is it every vegan’s duty to become an activist?
I don’t think it is a duty, but I feel that many of us vegans become activists because, after suffering the traumatic shock of learning the truth, we feel that changing our diets is not enough for the animals and the Earth. We feel we need to do something more, to speak up for them, to help others to make better choices. That is why, only after a year being vegan, I decided to embark in this animalist and environmentalist music project called Inanna and collaborate with animalist institutions like The National Animal Rights Day.
How compassionate or empathetic are you towards non-vegans?
People tell me I am a very empathetic person and I don’t think one should discriminate people for being non-vegan (or pre-vegan, I would say!). It is very hard to sit at a table with people who are eating eggs, dairy, meat or derived products, because either they don’t know or they decide to ignore the cruelty that hides behind the products they choose to eat. But every time I feel bad or hurt about it, I think about myself two and a half years ago, when I was vegetarian and I still did not know. We all have our process, our history. Humanity IS going towards the right direction. Change is already here. Factory farms will disappear. We just have to encourage and inspire, little by little, one by one, the people who are still choosing animal products over more ethical and sustainable foods.
Any recommended Vegan books?
Sure! I love Vystopia by Clare Mann, a book on how to cope as a vegan in a non-vegan world.
Any recommended social sites, blogs or pages?
Oh! There are so many! Check out www.thenard.org, I have collaborated with them this year. Mercy for Animals has great programs to help farmers to transition from animal-based farms to plant-based farms. Jane Unchained News posts recipes, news and interviews every day with vegans and vegan celebs! I was interviewed there last week by Jane Elizabeth at the Vegan Creator Studio.
Do you have a favorite movie or videos or your own media that you want to share?
As all vegans I guess, I loved Okja and I think everyone should watch it. Also, to understand more about the consumption of animal products and what it does to animals and the planet, I recommend to watch Dominion, Earthlings, Cowspiracy and What The Health (documentaries).
As my own media, this video (On Fire) is a vertical campaign about deforestation, habitat loss for animals and climate change.
Nefertiti XXI is about the importance of a female perspective in environmental policies.
And Strange Days is a home-made video about my vision of the COVID-19 quarantine this year.
I hope you like them!
What’s your favorite Vegan restaurant?
Here in Los Angeles, I love Crossroads, Pure Vita, Café Gratitude, Sage, but I haven’t tried them all yet! We cook A LOT at home, we enjoy exploring new healthy recipes, baking and making vegan cheese. My husband is a great cook too!
Please share your favorite vegan recipe?
That’s a hard question as I love so many of them, but I’ll share this one, which is definitely one of my favorites: Vegan Cardamom Buns!
Some encouraging words for new Vegans?
Stay aligned with your beliefs and behavior, don’t worry about not being perfect, inspire and encourage others, believe that change is here!
What is the vegan scene like in your city?
Pasadena has many vegan restaurants, like Sage Bistrò and Real food Daily, but I am noticing that now all restaurants offer vegan options almost everywhere. Anyway, being so close to Los Angeles, we have access to many other fantastic restaurants and vegan events. The vegan community here is big and vibrant!
What personal recommendations can you make for people to meet other vegans?
There are plenty of MeetUps, events, galas organized by animal rights organizations, marches. All over the world now! It is easy to find people who share your beliefs and that are working everyday to promote a kinder world, go to those events, talk to people, be part of FB groups, get in touch with activists and vegan artists!
What does living cruelty-free mean to you? Does it extend to the way you as a vegan treats other humans too?
Of course! I do not understand when some non-vegans accuse vegans of “loving animals more than people”. It is so absurd. Veganism is a life philosophy that promotes love and compassionate living towards ALL beings, all animals, human and non-human.
What are you favorite Vegan non-food products or companies?
I love Pacifica beauty products, they have such cute designs! And I love the work that F.A.K.E. (Fashion for Animal Kingdom and Environment) is doing to promote all vegan, ethical and sustainable fashion products (clothes, make-up, shoes, bags, etc.).
What is the toughest Vegan item to find that you need?
I find almost everything, but sometimes I struggle to find the right kind of cookies to make vegan tiramisu that don’t contain milk. Why so many products contain even the slightest quantity of cow’s milk??
Talk about a time when you struggled with your Veganism?
I never struggled and I am enjoying every single day of my vegan journey, but I found it harder to choose everything vegan back in Italy, as the options in restaurants are not many yet and it’s very hard to avoid dairy. It is easy to find great vegan options in the markets, but restaurants are still a bit behind. I hope that Italy and the rest of the world will join the vegan revolution fast too!