Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Cheryl and I live in New Jersey! I’m a sales representative for a medical company but my true passion is advocating for animals and my vegan lifestyle! You can find me here on Instagram and Twitter.
What lead you to veganism? How long ago?
I’ve always loved animals and when I was young, I believed all of the marketing tactics forced down our throats that we needed meat to survive. So about 9 years ago I was sitting at my desk at work and I saw a sad video about animal agriculture and I decided right then and there that I stopped eating meat! Back then when I didn’t have a full grasp on the animal agriculture industry, I thought being a pescatarian was the answer. So, I was Pescatarian for about 9 full years! I was still eating dairy and I started developing cystic acne and rashes, I went to the doctor and it turned out that my body just didn’t agree with dairy. So, I decided to cut our dairy and educate myself on the topic of animal agriculture and how ALL animals are mistreated. So, I went fully vegan and decided to help educate and spread awareness and it’s been over 3 years now and I am feeling the best I ever have!
When you first went vegan how did you phase out your non-vegan food, clothing and other items?
When I made the transition to vegan, I cleaned house and threw out anything from my fridge and pantry that wasn’t vegan, I had been pescatarian for so long that this switch was very easy to me. Of course, this is a learning process and it might not always happen overnight so I continued to wear leather for about another 6 months until I sat myself down and watched a video about the leather industry, I cried for over an hour! I immediately swore off all leather products and I have been leather free for over 2 and a half years now! I haven’t even purchased a leather item since then!
Do you make any exceptions for yourself or if you are married with kids – your family, when it comes to veganism?
I don’t have children yet but I’m getting ready with my husband to start the family route! I am not strict with my husband but I do make him watch every vegan documentary that I watch and I only cook vegan so during the week most of his meals are vegan! The only time he eats meat is at a restaurant on the weekends (which I’m slowly trying to change! It’s a process I know). But we have already had the talk and he agrees that I should raise our children vegan for so many health reasons unless their choice is otherwise, but until then!
Do you believe we should show children the process of how animals are turned into meats?
Yes, I do. It’s graphic but it’s necessary. I believe our problem is that we are so disconnected from our “food”, that we have been brainwashed through marketing to not even realize we are eating a sentient being that did not want to die! I think that if everyone knew where their “food” actually came from and if they made the connection that the piece of steak was once a beautiful living breathing animal that they wouldn’t feel morally okay with eating them. And when better to start than with children? They’re the most compassionate of them all I do believe they should know that their chicken nugget was once a chicken.
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?
Being Vegan to me extends to everyone and everything, I believe the universe gives back what you have given. I don’t believe in hurting any living creature. I know this is a learning process and not everyone is perfect so I try not to patronize vegan companies if their parent company isn’t vegan. They themselves are doing something right and living a compassionate lifestyle should mean compassion towards everyone trying to do the right thing. It makes me kinder to humans as well, especially when trying to educate about just how awful these industries actually are to sentient beings! You have to give love to get love! Fur does hit a soft spot for me and I do find myself biting my tongue when I see someone in fur I have to say.
Is it every vegan’s duty to become an activist?
I think it is. In my opinion, it took me so many years to switch from pescatarian to vegan and it was simply because I wasn’t educated! It was before the time of Instagram and before we had the vast amount of info from companies at our fingertips before we do now. I would have loved to have known a vegan activist when I thought being a pescatarian was the answer because I hadn’t known fish feel pain too. In my personal experience, I wished that I had met one sooner. I do believe we should be activists because there are people out there like the old me who just don’t know any better and need to be shown the truth!
How compassionate or empathetic are you towards non-vegans?
I understand that not everyone can be vegan overnight, people have to want to change. My entire family is made up of non-vegans, all I can do is love them as much as I do but also constantly be educating them. I had my entire family watch the documentary The Game Changers! I show them my perfect bloodwork summary from the doctor to show them that I am thriving on a vegan diet and it may be the answer to their diabetic issues among others! I know they have to want to change so I just try my best to keep on educating until they are ready!
Any recommended Vegan books?
I love the book “How Not To Die” by Dr Gregor! As well as his matching cookbook! His book really opens your eyes to how many ailments can be cured with a vegan diet proven by science. Another important book for me is by Jo-Ann McArthur called “We Animals” this book demonstrates through pictures the struggle of imprisoned animals in zoos and aquariums and animal testing facilities. I feel like this book is necessary because so many people think these animals are happy and parade their children through these places without realizing how much they suffer!
Any recommended social sites, blogs or pages?
I’m into YouTube and I love watching activist pages. My favorites are; Earthling Ed, Joey Carbstrong, Sophia Esperanza, and James Aspey.
Do you have a favorite movie or videos or your own media that you want to share?
My favorite documentary is The Game Changers, I feel like this blows away all the stigmas that come from being on a vegan diet and it really gets me excited to work out!
What’s your favorite Vegan restaurant?
My favorite vegan restaurant is Beyond Sushi, they have several locations all throughout Manhattan NYC and they are a 100% plant-based sushi restaurant!
Please share your favorite vegan recipe?
My favorite vegan recipe is my go-to for when I’m in a rush because it’s easy to make and also delicious! It’s my take on a vegan burrito bowl. I chop up a head of cauliflower (cauliflower rice) and I cook that in a pan with a little bit of avocado oil, then I add in some Beyond Meat’s Beyond Beef with some garlic and onion powder, then I add in my cubed tofu and black beans and I just cook it all together until it’s done and I top it off with some freshly sliced avocado!
Some encouraging words for new Vegans?
Yes, just hang in there! There are going to be so many people who will now be concerned with where you get your protein from and people close to you constantly telling you how unhealthy it is and what you’re reasoning for doing this may be. My advice to you, just stay strong and stick to your ethics don’t let anyone negative get in your ear. A vegan diet has been proven by science as the healthiest diet and you are making the world a better place for every animal. You have also drastically reduced your carbon footprint just by being vegan! So, hang in there and keep doing you and know that you are not alone.
What is the vegan scene like in your city?
I am in Montclair NJ and there are so many vegan restaurants and restaurants with vegan options so I am always happy!! If I am ever somewhere else, I use my Happy Cow app to help me find vegans places for me to eat!
What personal recommendations can you make for people to meet other vegans?
I would say the best way is online! There are so many vegan community groups on Facebook and Instagram who share personal stories and information, the vegan community is a very close-knit community!
What does living cruelty-free mean to you?
Cruelty-free living for me extends to everything and everyone. It extends to taking care of our earth as well as being kind to others. Like I said I do struggle with people who wear fur it does anger me and I find myself biting my tongue, the best way is to just educate nicely. Persistence is key! no one wants to listen to an angry person so the best way is to just maintain your patience.
What are your favorite Vegan non-food products or companies?
My favorite for skincare is Youth To The People, and my favorite for makeup is Hourglass and for vitamins it’s Ritual
What is the toughest Vegan item to find that you need?
Medicine !!! So many medicines and vitamins are made from gelatin so always pay attention to the ingredients and get the vegan alternative! Like ritual vitamins for me!
Talk about a time when you struggled with your Veganism?
Never! I’m a strong personality type no one can tell me what to think. I know that I’m making the world a better place, for our earth and for sentient beings everywhere. I don’t care what a non-vegan keyboard warrior has to say about me, I stay strong to what I believe! I never struggle with it! We live in a time where veganism is exploding and you can find vegan options everywhere!!!! I can go to any restaurant and put together a vegan meal with the waiter or waitress, you just have to know how to ask 😉 I’m proud to be vegan!