I currently reside in Portland, Oregon, originally from a small agriculture town in California. I have worked in Hospitality for many years, a few kitchens here and there, had to get out of the kitchen world for now due to having to work around meat, until I can open my own eatery. So, for now, I am using social media to build up a following for the unveiling of my cookbook (work in progress). You can find me on Instagram or Facebook under BEARfoot Chef. I am also an artist, and that can be found on Facebook under Art of Kid Zero. I am also an activist for the animals and environment and am a volunteer with Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
What lead you to veganism? How long ago?
It was actually my discovery of Sea Shepherd six years ago that really started my push towards veganism. I have been a vegetarian for most of my life, so making the switch was really easy for me. I have been vegan now for about 3 years.
When you first went vegan how did you phase out your non-vegan food, clothing and other items?
As far as non-vegan food items I really only had maybe two things, coffee creamer, and cheese. It was tough at first but I went without until I could find good replacements. As far as clothing goes I feel it would be wasteful to just toss it, so I have used items until they have fallen apart or need to be replaced.
Do you make any exceptions for yourself or if you are married with kids – your family, when it comes to veganism? For example, how strict are you with your children’s veganism at school or at family gatherings?
I do not have a wife and kids but if I did I would be very strict. As far as dating goes my partner has to be 100% vegan and preferably an activist as well.
Do you believe we should show children the process of how animals are turned into meats?
Yes, I do, maybe not in the most gruesome way possible but I do feel they should be educated. It was through seeing what really happens and knowing it came from an animal that made me give up meat at the age of 3. I also was educated about growing food; my school was the first in the district to have a full garden built by students.
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? Does it affect the way you treat other humans?
Yes, I do believe it extends to not killing bugs, or just not killing in general whenever applicable. I do try and avoid any company I find to be unethical, and even just doing that in this world can be tough, so we need to stay vigilant and inform our fellow citizens. I will say when a vegan company sells out to a major slaughterhouse I will no longer support them, but I don’t hold others accountable if they feel the need to buy those products, it is up to personal morality as far as that goes. We all shop at grocery stores, and we know who they support and fund, so it’s a grey area. As far as how I treat other humans, it is a case by case basis, I try and always be educational in my approach. I do consider myself to be the “militant vegan” type, I am more so about Animal Liberation than anything else.
Is it every vegan’s duty to become an activist?
Yes and no. I feel being vegan is a form of activism, it is going against the status quo. Also, I don’t feel everyone is capable of being an activist. You certainly don’t want someone on the frontline who can’t handle their emotions, especially anger. Some people suffer from anxiety and other things that prevent them from large social gatherings and confrontation. Being an activist takes a lot of control.
How compassionate or empathetic are you towards non-vegans?
Depends on the individual. If it is someone who wants to change and knows it is wrong I can be a nurturer, but if it is a hunter or farmer who thinks animals are objects I could care less how they think I come off. Some humans will never change, and lately, I have been trying to avoid those types and focus on the ones that can and will change. Also, the youth, I think we should focus more attention on them, they are the future.
Any recommended Vegan books?
Sea Shepherd has a few books out, I like them because it is not just about the food, they also speak about ways to make a difference.
Any recommended social sites, blogs or pages?
One of my favorite “bloggers” to follow on Instagram is Nimai Delgado. He is a vegan bodybuilder and he is really showing what a vegan diet can do, it is limitless.
What’s your favorite Vegan restaurant?
That’s a tough one as a chef. I would have to say Homegrown Smoker is a fav of mine, I just really like the boundaries they are pushing. Also have to give a shout out to a huge local company, Tofurkey.
Please share your favorite vegan recipe?
Currently, my favorite vegan recipe is mac and cheese, but I use Follow Your Heart Smoked Gouda. It is a very simple recipe to make, it uses a classic bechamel for the
cheese sauce and any type of pasta you like.
2 tbsp vegan butter
¼ cup flour
½ cup almond milk
2-3 slices of smoked gouda
1 ¾ cups pasta of choice
You just heat up the butter in a saucepan on medium-high heat, once the butter melts slowly add the flour in and whisk quickly to mix thoroughly, once that is combined and has thickened slowly add in the milk and mix, add in a little at a time, you don’t want it to be too thin. Once that has reached desired consistency add in the cheese and mix well until cheese has melted. Add cooked pasta to the cheese and mix and enjoy.
Some encouraging words for new Vegans?
Now more than ever is it easier to be vegan if you like cheese the vegan cheeses have gotten so much better than they were 3 years ago. Now is definitely the best time to make the change, more products and more info out there. Just keep educating yourself, stay true to who you are and who you want to become and the path will be clear. I offer to mentor on my pages as well, if you need info or advice anyone can message me and I will do my best to be of assistance.
What is the vegan scene like in your city?
Portland Oregon is seen as a mecca, lots of vegan establishments and many others with amazing options. And it continues to grow. Very lucky to live here and have it be the background for my transformation.
What personal recommendations can you make for people to meet other vegans?
I think the best way to meet fellow vegans is activism honestly. That is where you will meet the everyday, hardworking vegans and not just the dieters.
What does living cruelty-free mean to you? Does it extend to the way you as a vegan treats other humans too?
I try not to mix veganism with human rights stuff, I think the animals deserve their own cause. So, for me truly cruelty-free is what causes the least amount of suffering overall. Again, it is extremely difficult to know the full scope of how some employees may be treated, but if it comes to light I will stop supporting those companies. A good example is Nestle, I find them to be one of the most unethical companies out there and will never buy a product.
What are you favorite Vegan non-food products or companies?
I really love Herbivore clothing company here in Portland, also Blood Tight Apparel and Outcast Agenda, Crazies and Weirdos, Compassion Co. They make shirts that I love to wear, with messages that are easy to understand.
What is the toughest Vegan item to find that you need?
I would have to say nothing, I am just lucky to live where I do and be surrounded by a vegan option and alternative for anything.
Talk about a time when you struggled with your Veganism?
I think being a vegetarian most of my life geared me for veganism and it has been the easiest transition, I have never craved anything non-vegan since making the change.