Being Vegan, Vegan Being: Bryan Zurek – Always Searching for the Most Compassionate Path to Navigate Every Situation

My name is Bryan Zurek, I live in Portland, OR. I work at a small, all vegan grocery store called Food Fight! Grocery. I also play guitar in a vegan straight edge hardcore band called CLIMATE. When I’m not working I like running, playing guitar, swimming, hiking, drinking coffee, and spending time with my partner, dog, and two cats.

Past bands I’ve been in can be heard here:
Young Turks:
Fought Alone:

What was the moment you realize that you wanted to go vegan?

I was visiting my older brother in Denver, CO when he was in college and he had me read part of John Robbins’ book “Diet For A New America”. I was only 12 or 13 years old and didn’t go vegan for another few years, but that put the seed in my head. When I was 18 I read the entire book and was vegan within a couple months. It was such a life altering book for me. It’s so thorough and has so much information and it just hit me very hard as a young person.

How long have you been Vegan?

I’ve been vegan for over 11 years

Why is being Vegan important to you?

In my opinion, it’s the least someone can do to stop contributing to the suffering of animals and destruction of our planet. If animals and/or the planet are of any importance to someone then they should go vegan. I’m not naive enough anymore to think that veganism will save the world but it’s a necessary step in making the world less shitty.

Any recommended Vegan books?

I haven’t read much vegan propaganda in recent years so all my suggestions might be outdated at this point. That being said these were important books for me when I first was going vegan:

Diet For A New America” by John Robbins
Vegan Freak” by Bob and Jenna Torres
For Fear Of An Animal Planet” by Jason Hribal
Green Is The New Red” by Will Potter
We Animals” by Jo-Anne McArthur

Any recommended social sites, Facebook Groups or other?

Because I deal with the vegan community for work I’ve really stepped back from any online groups just to save my sanity. I often use the vegan guide to Portland on my work’s website to decide on where to eat haha.

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

The Ghosts in Our Machine
Live And Let Live

Do you actively promote veganism?

Through my work, I’m constantly talking to folks about veganism and where it’s headed. Also, through the bands I’ve been in we’ve promoted veganism through our records and at all of our shows. We’d always have “why vegan?” pamphlets for free at our merch table.

What is the vegan stereotype you hear the most and how do you respond to it?

Ha, where to start!? I hear it all through work and I find them all hilarious. I’ve gotten fairly good at responding with a tasteful amount sarcasm. I find it funny that everyone has that relative or friend that just assumes that because something is vegan that it must be made from tofu. “oh vegan potato chips? so…are they just made out of tofu then?”

What’s your favorite Vegan restaurant?

Green in Phoenix, AZ.

Please share your favorite vegan recipe?

Bananas. Peel, eat, repeat.

Some encouraging words for new Vegans?

Don’t get hung up on perfection and/or mistakes. Keep moving forward and do better next time.

What does living cruelty-free mean to you?

Finding the most compassionate path to navigate every situation. It goes beyond not eating meat. Find compassion and empathy in your relationships, world views, diet, and everything else. Treat people well and always do the right thing.

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

Brooks Cascadia trail running shoes. Great for summer hiking and trail running. Go outside! I don’t know if HELD is still a company but I bought one of their belts like 8 years ago and its still in perfect condition.

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

Finding a decent, affordable suit for my wedding was harder than I would’ve liked. but There’s rarely a time when I can’t find what I need.

Talk about a time when you struggled with your Veganism?

When I went vegan it was so important to me that I just made it work. Eating non-vegan just wasn’t an option and so I didn’t find myself ever really struggling with it. The social aspect of going out to eat with friends and family was less convenient but I wouldn’t say I struggled…

Whats your biggest critique with veganism?

I find that people who go vegan think that it’s their “good person” card. It doesn’t automatically make you a good person. Veganism is still filled with so much racism, classism, ableism, body shaming, and every other issue that’s found in the mainstream culture. Veganism isn’t immune to these things. Also, the phrase plant based. I’m really tired of hearing that too.

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