Being Vegan, Vegan Being: Brandon Rogers – Inspired by Moby, I Found my Vegan Groove. (Founder of Heart Factory Co.)

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m Brandon and I live in Portland, Oregon. I’m a public servant, working help make Portland a great place to live. I wanted to find a way to raise money for animal sanctuaries and so I started making kitchen towels in my garage/studio. Portland is a town with so many crafty people, I was inspired to teach myself how to screen print. With a minimal investment, I’ve raised $700 over the past year to donate to animal sanctuaries. You can catch us online here.

What lead you to veganism?

Veganism was introduced to me when I was in my 20’s and living in Boise, Idaho while working at the Boise Co-op. Years later, I became a fan of the musician Moby, whose musical and photography work inspired me. I wanted to know more about Moby, who he was and what motivated him to be creative. Along that journey, I discovered a book that he wrote with Miyun Park, named Gristle: From Factory Farms to Food Safety (Thinking Twice About the Meat We Eat). That book changed my life. It was like once I knew the facts about animal agriculture, I couldn’t unknow them. Impacts caused by animal agriculture affect our health and the environment, workers rights, food safety in ways that are disproportionate to the benefits provided. When one realizes that billions of animals are inflicted with so much pain and suffering – the whole picture of animal agriculture is truly the most disgusting and hurtful action that we, as humans, are responsible for. The solution is within all of our abilities, and it’s as simple as eating plants and treating animals as our friends. It’s an individual choice, and it has an immediate impact to reducing animal suffering by decreasing demand for animal products in the marketplace, and increasing the demand for plant-based foods. When one decides to no longer contribute to animal suffering, there’s an inner peace that comes with knowing that you’re feeding yourself without causing pain and suffering to animals. That’s what motivates me. Over the years, Moby has realized that animal rights is his life’s work – not music or photography or producing, not performing or making videos or directing – but animal rights activism. Here’s a talented, sensitive, smart, wealthy man with all the privilege in the world and above all else he has focused on animal rights. This inspires me because it tells me that there’s nothing better than fighting for animal rights.

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

It’s so easy to become a vegan, and I made the change overnight by relying on the basic foods that I became familiar with while working in food co-ops. Tofu, beans, vegetables, rice, whole grains, miso. When I buy new clothes, I don’t buy leather or wool.

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

Animal sanctuaries, like Green Acres Farm Sanctuary here in Oregon, provide educational opportunities for children to see and experience animals and to hear their stories. When people can see that animals are just like us, with a desire to avoid pain and suffering, to be outside and act on their natural instincts, this builds compassion. Animal sanctuaries are doing the work of rescuing animals and educating people, and through this work, people have the opportunity to connect with and feel compassion for animals.

What does being vegan mean to you?

To me, being vegan is about doing everything you can to reduce animal suffering. I focus on what’s at hand and strive to support any business offering plant-based products. The compassion that comes with being vegan crosses over into so many other parts of life, including showing more love and compassion for people.

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

I really admire people who take a stand and work to change the status quo of animal agriculture. Any recommended vegan books, social sites, or blogs?

What’s your favorite Vegan restaurant?

Little Pine is Moby’s restaurant in Silver Lake, California. It’s a very special little place not only because the people who run it are awesome, but because the food is amazing and Moby gives all of the profits to people working to reduce animal suffering. Portland also has a lot of great vegan restaurants, including Homegrown Smoker, Blossoming Lotus, Farm Spirit, and many other places have vegan options. Next Level Burger serves up some great plant-based fare!

Please share your favorite vegan recipe?

I love vegan burritos. My favorites are made with quickly sauteed zucchini and carrots, with baked tofu, black beans, brown rice, a touch of salt and pepper and a sprinkle of nutritional yeast. Not super fancy, but packed with protein and energy.

Some encouraging words for new Vegans?

It’s so easy, take it one meal at a time. Spend some time in the kitchen with fresh veggies, cut them up, find out ways that you can cook them to bring out the delicious flavors. Your taste buds will adjust and become more sensitive to the delicate flavors of a plant-based diet. Learn about tofu, it’s such a clean and simple food that can take on any flavors you infuse it with. Find some recipes for comfort foods that you love, like mac and cheese. You can’t beat a sliced apple with almond butter as a great snack!

What is the vegan scene like in your city?

Portland, Oregon has an amazing vegan scene. There’s a vegan mini-mall with a Sweet Pea Bakery, Food Fight! grocery, Herbivore clothes and shoes and Scapegoat tattoo. So many awesome vegan restaurants, too. Veganism feels mainstream here.

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

Check out your local Veg Fest! Connect with other vegans on social media.

What does living cruelty-free mean to you?

Animal suffering is cruelty. Whether it’s the food we eat, the clothes we wear, our makeup or our entertainment. We have a choice to make; peace or pain.

Talk about a time when you struggled with your Veganism?

When I first made the pledge to go vegan, it was a hard change from omnivore to a plant-based diet. I had a dream that I was in a room with a 6-foot tall pile of meat covered in cheese. It was a strange vision! Honestly, though – it’s so easy to change to a plant-based diet. It’s about finding new foods and bringing back old favorites to replace the meat and dairy.

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