Tell us a little about yourself.
I live in Los Angeles, and I am an actor (www.aylamorian.com). I am also the founder and director of the non-profit “Our Planet. Theirs Too.” (www.ourplanettheirstoo.org) which is behind The National Animal Rights Day (NARD), and The Declaration of Animal Rights!
What lead you to veganism? How long ago?
I went vegetarian first, in 2006, while I was studying Yoga and Vedanta (Indian philosophy) and my teacher spoke about what humans were willing to do to animals, “just for the pleasure of their taste buds”. That sentence really stuck with me. Around that time I stumbled upon a leaflet from the great group Vegan Outreach, and I learned for the first time about factory farms, and how animals are treated in the modern day world. I was shocked to my core, I had an emotional reaction, and I vowed right then and there to not be a part of this anymore. The next day I went vegetarian (I didn’t know at the time about the horrors of the dairy and eggs industries). When a few years later I learned about the dairy and egg industries, plus the cruelty involved in fur, wool, leather, testing labs, circuses, zoos, etc., it became clear to me that the only way to live my life was to not rely on anything from animals. Not eat, wear, consume, use or take anything from animals. So I became fully vegan.
When you first went vegan, how did you phase out your non-vegan food, clothing and other items?
With the animal flesh it was immediate – I decided to never eat it again, and so I cut it out completely from my diet. Dairy products and eggs (I wasn’t a big eater of those anyway, but they were ingredients in other things I ate) were a bit more gradual: I would learn that something has dairy or eggs, and cut it out. Same with clothing, cosmetics and household products: as soon as I realized that something I was using or had at home had any animal ingredients in it, or was tested on animals, I threw it out and looked for a vegan alternative. So that was a more lengthy process, but I did it!
Do you make any exceptions for yourself or if you are married with kids – your family, when it comes to veganism?
I don’t. Sometimes, due to my work, I have to be in film screenings and other events that have non-vegan food, but in LA we are quite lucky to always have some vegan option or other! In terms of family, I don’t have kids, but I think I would be very strict with their veganism. The same with romantic partners – I haven’t had to test it in action yet, but I don’t think I can be with someone who is not vegan.
Do you believe we should show children the process of how animals are turned into meat?
Hmmm… maybe not show them until they reach a certain age, but we can definitely describe it to them, in a way they can understand, and which will not traumatize them forever.
What does being vegan mean to you?
It means not harming any animals in any way, and that definitely includes bugs, bees, flies, ants, mosquitoes, etc. Any animal (well, it’s still challenging not to verbally harm stupid animals of the human kind, but I strive to it nonetheless! Haha…). So yes, it does affect the way I treat other humans, even though I have a long way to go still. As far as vegan companies which are owned by non-vegan parent companies – I try to decide on a case by case basis. I think most vegan companies are not owned by vegans, but I still ‘patronize’ them because I want their products to replace animal products. But if I learn that a certain vegan company is using or harming animals in any way – I will stop patronizing them.
Is it every vegan’s duty to become an activist?
I wouldn’t call it a ‘duty’. I think only the person themselves can decide what their ‘duties’ are. But I think that if someone is committed to veganism – the way of life that prevents harm to all living beings – then it goes without saying that they would probably want to help prevent this harm in any way they can, not just with their own actions, but with others’ around them as well. So I definitely encourage all vegans to become activists: vegan activists, animal rights activists, climate change activists, etc.
How compassionate or empathetic are you towards non-vegans?
It depends on the person. If it’s your regular Jane / Joe, who is trying to be a good person but simply doesn’t know better, or is still unaware of humanity’s treatment of animals, and its devastating effect on our planet, that’s one thing. I was that guy once. But if they are an intentional animal abuser – then I have no compassion / empathy for them. I should have, maybe, but I just can’t muster it. Animals are like children to me, they are pure and innocent, and if you abuse them or hurt them – then you lost my empathy / compassion.
Any recommended social sites, blogs or pages?
Do you have a favorite movie or videos or your own media that you want to share?
Again, too many to mention… but check out the videos section on the “Our Planet. Theirs Too.” Page on Facebook, and on Instagram!
What’s your favorite Vegan restaurant?
Hmm, at the moment it’s Hinterhof in LA! An authentic German beer garden and restaurant that is all vegan! Amazing!
Some encouraging words for new Vegans?
Stick with it! There may be times when you’ll crave something, or get tempted by something, that is not vegan (or you’ll be in an environment where there would seem to be no vegan options). Just remind yourself of your ‘higher goal’ or ‘higher desire’ for being vegan – wanting to save animals, wanting to save the planet, wanting to save your own health – whatever that is. And when you connect to it, and it’s important for you (if it’s not that important yet, then you probably have some work to do to get to a point where it is), then the ‘lower desires or cravings or temptations will go away on their own!
What is the vegan scene like in your city?
It’s great! Los Angeles is booming with vegan restaurants of all kinds, and vegan options in almost every store, restaurant and supermarket! Plus we have our own VegFest (actually vegan), a vegan beer and food fest (Eat Drink Vegan), Vegan Sundays, Vegan Drinks, vegan food trucks, Vegan Fashion Week, an all-vegan grocery store, Vegans of LA Facebook group, Vegan meetups, etc. etc…
What personal recommendations can you make for people to meet other vegans?
Search for vegan groups in your area on social media, and come out to vegan events advertised there!
What is the toughest Vegan item to find that you need?
Hair dye ☺