Being Vegan, Vegan Being: Heather Brice – When you Think About the Animals, Everything Seems Easy. Nothing is Worth Their Suffering.

Tell us a little about yourself.

 I live with my husband of 15 years and my two boys (Jack, 8, and Donovan, 3) and two cats, Luke and Leia (we are huge Star Wars fans!). I teach 5th-grade math and science full-time, and also teach kids’ yoga, am a certified Personal Trainer, and have 2 businesses. One is a handmade jewelry business, and the other- a 100% vegan and women-owned online marketplace with my business partner, Beth (www.shopgreen.co) Follow me also on IG @plantmom4life!

What lead you to veganism?

 I went vegetarian at 15, after visiting a PETA table at a concert. I had never seen images so powerful of animal cruelty and stopped eating meat immediately. It took me 25+ more years to even find out about the dairy and egg industries, and once I did 5 years ago, I never looked back.

When you first went vegan how did you phase out your non-vegan food, clothing and other items? First, I ate up all the non-vegan food in my house. I hadn’t worn leather or wool anyway (or down, silk, etc.) since I knew about those industries even as a vegetarian. I was a strange vegetarian in that I didn’t even drink cow’s milk, but somehow justified cheese. It was quite easy to transition, besides the cheese thing.

Do you make any exceptions for yourself or if you are married with kids – your family, when it comes to veganism?

My kids can go to family or school functions, but they know that we provide vegan food for them. For example, if they go to a birthday party, we will send them with their own vegan pizza or cupcakes. It’s gone well so far!

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

I do believe that we should show them to some degree. Maybe not in graphic fashion at a younger age, but authors like Ruby Roth and so many others write children’s books that illustrate the process without being too much to handle. I strive to never lie to my children. Society lies to them about so many things. I want them to know the truth. We love Bite Size Vegan’s videos also. Emily describes almost every issue to kids (and adults) without being judgmental or condescending. My boys love her!

What does being vegan mean to you?

Being vegan to me means doing the best that you can to show compassion and love in every activity in life. I think it does extend to not killing bugs or bees. We all have the right to be here. We all have the right to life. No human should have the authority to take away the life from any being that does not want to die. We always patronize all-vegan companies over non-vegan companies first, but just like grocery stores, that is sometimes unavoidable. I think that it is important for non-vegan companies to offer vegan options, and I support them. It gives non-vegans the chance to buy vegan when they wouldn’t otherwise, and that creates change. It shows those companies that veganism is growing and is in demand. Plus, every time a non-vegan chooses a vegan option, animals are saved.

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

Yes. I believe that it’s not enough to just be vegan. Although it’s great, we have to educate others. SO many people are still unaware of the constant suffering and standard practices of animal cruelty. Once you know, you can do better, but it takes activists to help make that happen. Even if activism is not your cup of tea, you can write letters, post on social media, educate family and friends by giving out recipes, start a channel from the comfort of your own home…so many options that don’t involve protests, vigils, marches, Cubes of Truth, etc. (although most vegans will end up doing all of these things eventually as their awareness grows). One of the things I hear most from new vegans is that they are shy, or don’t know how to get involved in activism. There are now so many options that it’s easier than ever!

How compassionate or empathetic are you towards non-vegans?

 It is definitely a struggle sometimes, but my empathy toward them has grown over time. When I was a new vegan, I was fired up. I couldn’t fathom that everyone could still participate in a system which I now knew was so corrupt. I was your typical “angry vegan.” In time, I gradually learned that it was a process, and most vegans once ate animals too. I had to think back a LONG time to when I ate meat, and what drove me to do that. It was my parents, society, my family, and culture. Which is the same for most people. Although I STILL get angry when arguing with someone on occasion, listening to Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s podcast, “Food for Thought,” totally helped to change my way of thinking. She teaches you how to approach people with a different lens, and a few years ago when I started listening, I changed my perspective and learned to approach people with more compassion than in the beginning. Finding out their “why” is so important, so you can find common ground and THEN educate in a way they will understand, without being condescending or judgmental. I’ve found this to be 100% more effective than just telling them they should go vegan.

Any recommended Vegan books?

My two favorites (and I think both authors are aware of this lol) are The Vegan Way by Jackie Day, and The Skeptical Vegan by Eric C Lindstrom. Of course, there are more, but these are my favorites at the moment. The Vegan Way is perfect for new vegans and is SO comprehensive; she covers every aspect of going and staying vegan, including traveling, clothing, how to shop, and of course some delicious recipes. The Skeptical Vegan is a hilarious account of the author’s journey into veganism. It’s more of a funny novel than a vegan guide but can be used as both! I laughed out loud throughout the whole read, and of course, delicious and easy recipes are also included, along with tons of tips on vegan living at the end. It’s also a great one for husbands that are wary if their wives want to go vegan or are trying to persuade them to join in on their journey (I may or may not know this from experience).

Any recommended social sites, blogs or pages?

I LOVE Tabitha Brown on IG. She makes me laugh daily (@iamtabithabrown), our friend Tony on YouTube & IG (The Vegan Mechanic), Ellen Fisher on IG (@ellenfisher), and James Aspey (@jamesaspey) are some of our faves. 

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

We just saw The Animal People which was produced by Joaquin Phoenix, and it was amazing. I also think that movies like The Game Changers, Forks over Knives, Earthlings/Dominion, and Cowspiracy are necessary documentaries for all vegans and vegan-curious (or anyone!) to see. Two of my favorite kids’ movies with a vegan message are Ferdinand and Book of Life. I obviously watch more kids movies nowadays 😊

What’s your favorite Vegan restaurant?

For fancier vegan food, it would have to be Great Sage in Clarksville, MD. For more affordable comfort vegan fare, we love Grub Factory, Zoe’s Vegan Delight, Land of Kush, and Greener Kitchen in Baltimore. In DC, Fare Well, Busboys & Poets, and Sticky Rice are favorites.

Please share your favorite vegan recipe.

There are so many, but one of the favorites that I make is a vegan Banh Mi sandwich. Pre-vegan, I used to get these with shrimp or tofu when we lived in Southern California at the many delicious Vietnamese restaurants there. Now, my husband and I make them with seitan sautéed in hoisin sauce, cucumbers and carrots marinated in balsamic vinaigrette, Sriracha mayo, cilantro, and served on French bread or club rolls.

  • Pre-mix vegan mayo with Sriracha to taste and set in the fridge to chill.
  • Sautee any type of seitan (not flavored) in Hoisin sauce over medium to medium-high heat.
  • Marinate cucumbers and carrots sliced thin (like pickles) in Balsamic vinaigrette. Let sit while cooking.
  • Rinse cilantro and dry. Set aside.
  • Spread mayo mix on lightly toasted club rolls or bread. Top with cilantro, then carrots and cucumbers.
  • Put cooked seitan on top. Season to taste and enjoy! Jalapenos are optional.

Some encouraging words for new Vegans?

Don’t give up. It can get difficult sometimes, especially when explaining to people why you are vegan. We have to remember that most people only ask questions because they are genuinely curious. Even those that seem like they’re bashing you. They DO want to learn, whether they even know it or not. For some, it is a longer journey than others. Keep the animals in mind always and it becomes easier.

What is the vegan scene like in your city?

It is very small, but we are between Baltimore and DC, both very up-and-coming vegan destinations. I started a vegan group in my town, and it is growing every day. It is drastically different (better) now than when I first went vegan 5 yrs. ago. Every day we are making progress.

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

Join meet-up groups, Facebook groups, and go to vegan events. Volunteer for your local vegan organizations. I met most of my vegan friends through volunteering. It enabled me to learn so much as a new vegan while meeting people from all walks of life. Get involved in activism. If you don’t have any animal rights organizations in your town, start your OWN!

What does living cruelty-free mean to you?

Does it extend to the way you as a vegan treats other humans too? Cruelty-free living to me means that I will try my best in any way not to inflict pain onto any animals OR humans. We avoid companies that test on animals and only buy vegan products, but also try to buy from ethical companies that don’t exploit humans either. I believe that it does extend to the way humans are treated as well. We should be kind to all, no matter their species.

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

I love Kat von D for cosmetics. I love the way that she became an ethical vegan and transitioned all of her products to 100% vegan. Pacifica is also another women-owned cosmetics company that is 100% vegan- I love their stuff as well! I also love Etee. They sell zero waste and eco-friendly household products. And of course, I have to plug my own company, green (www.shopgreen.co). We are women-owned, and sell all-vegan, eco-friendly, and organic products that include food & grocery, health & wellness, baby & kids, and household items.

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

Honestly, nothing is tough to find anymore!

Talk about a time when you struggled with your Veganism?

I would say giving up cheese was my only struggle, and it was only in the first couple of days into my transition. I had headaches while I was detoxing from it. After they lifted, however, I felt amazing and knew I made the right decision. When you think about animals, everything seems easy. Nothing is worth their suffering. We complain; we get too hot or too cold; we get hungry, etc. Thinking of them suffering in trucks bound for slaughter, or watching their families die in front of them makes all of our human problems seem insignificant. My only struggle now is knowing I can’t save them all.

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