Tell us a little about yourself.
Hello everyone!! I’m Carol Aguilar and I’m a 15 year old activist based in East Los Angeles. Even though I am young, I am passionate about human rights, environmental justice and animal liberation. I have a YouTube channel where I talk about these things and try to help educate people on veganism and animal rights. You can follow my Instagram page @carolforallspecies and also subscribe to my YouTube channel Carol Aguilar. My mom also recently started a vegan bakery called The Cruelty Free Bakery and we make vegan pan dulce and other treats.
What led you to veganism? How long ago?
What led me to veganism was when I decided to go vegetarian in fourth grade. I grew up surrounded by my grandma’s chickens and our other furry companion friends. I grew up loving animals so much and wanting to be a veterinarian. Every year for career day since kindergarten I would dress up as a vet. When I was 8 I watched a cow get slaughtered on YouTube and that’s when everything started. Growing up in a Mexican family, it was hard to get support from my mom and the rest of my family. This was not something that was common and none of us were really educated on vegetarianism. I persevered through it but I would eat meat on and off because of how much stress I went through wanting to be vegetarian but not receiving support. As I grew older, my passion only grew. I was also an activist without even knowing. I had no idea about the dairy industry so I focused on meat and other cruel practices. For example, in 6th grade I dressed up as an abused Maybelline bunny and spent my Halloween day explaining to people about cosmetic animal abuse. When I was 13 I decided to go vegan. At first my family were in shock and not on board but about a month later my mom went vegan. I had gone to a pig vigil and the second time my mom decided to go. She watched Dominion after that and that’s when everything kicked off. I’m about to hit three years being an activist and vegan and counting. Even though the rest of my family is not vegan, they are pretty much vegetarian and they have definitely been influenced to cut down on meat and dairy after we’ve talked to them about the health consequences of animal products.
When you first went vegan how did you phase out your non-vegan food, clothing and other items?
I’ve always been conscious of what I have and materialistic things have never really intrigued me. I’ve always gone to schools that require uniform so my clothes aren’t really a big deal that I need to focus on. I don’t wear any makeup so I definitely don’t worry about that. We do use vegan toothpaste and shampoo that we find at our local Walmart. Overall it is super easy nowadays because more companies want to use vegan materials and are always happy to promote them and put a vegan label.
Do you believe we should show children the process of how animals are turned into meat?
I think that we should explain to children once they are old enough to understand. I would raise my children vegan and explain to them why later on. Kids don’t grow up wanting to kill animals, we teach them it’s okay. Children are not violent, we are the violent ones. Talking to kids and especially now adolescents I’ve learned that the more we learn about this, the less we want to support the industries. It’s a lie that has been taught to us for so long. When we find out about this it’s heartbreaking because it’s such a cruel thing.
What does being vegan mean to you? For example, does it extend to not killing bugs and bees?
Being vegan to me means trying my absolute best through my actions to reduce the animal exploitation that I contribute to. That’s what being vegan is about. Through those actions though I realize that I help human rights and the environment though. This is because we have exploited animals for so long and so when we stop we see everything that animal exploitation truly does.
How compassionate or empathetic are you towards non-vegans?
I am compassionate towards everyone because there is no reason to be hateful. We should let them know though that eating animals and contributing to their abuse is wrong. We need to show them the truth that happens. The only thing is that I respect the person, just not the actions. When it really starts to get iffy is when that person openly supports animal abuse or has made comments supporting the abuse towards animals and others.
Any recommended Vegan books?
Yes!! Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear Cows, Food Inc, Fast Food Nation The CAFO Reader and more. I’d love to recommend more books. These are some of the books that really shocked me but were really educational. They each dwell on a certain topic but the CAFO reader is super educational on animals lives in CAFOs.
Do you have a favorite movie or videos or your own media that you want to share?
Definitely Earthlings and Dominion and if you’d like to check it out, my YouTube channel. Earthlings and Dominion are very powerful documentaries that have changed people lives and click the button to start a more kindness driven lifestyle. I have also created my own videos that are much shorter on YouTube. There are many videos like The Realities Inside the Animal Agriculture Industries, The Cruel Truth Behind Hermes Birkin Bags, Exposing the Cruel Truth Mink Eyelashes, The Cruel Truth Behind the Pork Industry and even videos like How To Go Vegan at Costco.
What personal recommendations can you make for people to meet other vegans?
Go to animal vigils, marches, or start following vegans on social media. I first met vegans through social media, Instagram, and then found out about pig vigils. I go to Farmer Johns to bear witness with The Save Movement and Animal Alliance. When you are in an atmosphere with people who care about the same things you do, it’s mind blowing. After being convinced that no other person loved animals as much as I do I realized there’s people out there. I’m not alone and we can do this together.
What does living cruelty-free mean to you? Does it extend to the way you as a vegan treats other humans too?
Living cruelty free to me means trying my best to reduce cruelty overall. Not only for the animals but for humans as well. Not all of us are as lucky and some people, even kids need to work and some suffer from exploitation. I try my best to shop at thrift stores and avoid fast fashion or cheap labor made clothes. (Except for buying undergarments or socks.) Also educating myself on stuff like chocolate, coffee, the shrimp trade, palm oil, mica and other things we don’t usually hear about.
Talk about a time when you struggled with your Veganism?
I haven’t struggled with veganism but I have struggled from being bullied at school. From middle school to high school people just liked to talk bad about vegans and animal rights but honestly it doesn’t really hurt. I also find it rather funny because even when I do talk to them, and they realize I’m actually educated on these things and they can’t find a valid excuse to continue, they either stop or continue even harder. I know my worth and I know what I am doing and negative remarks on veganism don’t bring me down. I’ve been bullied almost my whole life for things, and I’ve figured out how to block them out and keep on going. It’s easier to move forward when I don’t attach myself to people who want to drag me down with them and focus on my goals.