My name is Keyang Yanki. I was born in Nepal to a Buddhist family, grew up in a Catholic school in India, did my last two years of high school in Nepal and traveled to USA (West Virginia and New York) for my higher education. I studied Psychology and Political Science but found myself gravitating more toward Psychology. I am in Nepal at the moment, writing my second book and exploring ideas that align best with my fundamental beliefs. I self-published my first book ‘Magic Portals’ earlier this year. It is a structured book of poetry and prose in story telling form. It touches mental health issues such as anxiety, abandonment issues, depression etc. and emphasizes on the importance of healing your inner wounded child in order to thrive in life. The book will best resonate with you if you’ve ever been called an ‘old soul’ in your life.
What lead you to veganism? How long ago?
I’d always been sensitive to conflict and violence growing up but never put deep thought into how the food on my table had come into being. The first time I’d ever witnessed a slaughter was when I was twelve-is. Perhaps I hadn’t matured enough to make the connection then because the only animal I stopped consuming after that was the one, I’d witnessed suffer before my eyes.
I fully went vegan on June 19, 2018. It was a chain of events that lead to it. My family dog had given birth to puppies a few months prior and I ended up taking care of them because no one else wanted them. The mixed breed wasn’t desired where I live and I was suggested to abandon them into the streets. This is somewhat the norm where I live. I do not blame them. Societal conditioning. I spent the next few months moving them from one place to another because we did not have space for more dogs, getting into heated discussions with family and friends for them because I was exhausting myself mentally and physically, running back to their temporary space to feed them twice a day, playing with them, staying up late at night googling ‘what to do if puppy eats soap’ and soon enough my explore on Instagram was filled with dog related posts. That lead to more animal related news and eventually, posts of animal cruelty. That did it for me.
When you first went into vegan, how did you phase out your nonvegan food, clothing and other items?
Fortunately, my father has been a vegetarian for the past twenty-something years, my youngest sister was an on and off vegetarian at the time (now transitioning to full-time vegan) so, our meals were already primarily vegetarian at home. Eliminating meat did not prove itself to be an issue. Also, our traditional meals in Nepal aren’t dairy-based. I substituted the dairy I use for beverages with Soymilk. As for clothing, I don’t intentionally purchase leather, fur, wool etc.d anymore. Same with cosmetics. I intend to only go for cruelty-free brands.
Do you make any exceptions for yourself or if you are married with kids – your family, when it comes to veganism?
I am unmarried and without children but I plan on raising my future children vegan until they are mature enough to bear witness to the suffering and they can decide for themselves after that. I do plan on raising them to prioritize being compassionate, so I’m hoping that will have a huge role to play in their decision.
Do you believe we should show our children the process of how animals are turned into meat?
I think children should definitely witness the suffering but only after a certain age. Siddhartha Gautama would never have become Buddha if he hadn’t stepped foot outside his palace and encountered suffering. It is essential for human beings to witness suffering. It makes us more conscious and kinder.
What does being vegan mean to you?
Being vegan for me means living in alignment with my fundamentals beliefs. I am deeply disturbed by acts of violence, especially on the defenseless and innocent.
I do not condone it the slightest bit.
Yes, it extends to bugs and bees as well. I remember being laughed at by the entire class back in New York when I wouldn’t let one of the students step foot on a spider. All sentient beings are precious and none of them should suffer an unnecessary death.
I wouldn’t like to support vegan companies owned by non-vegan parent companies but at the same time, I would want to create more demand for vegan products. It is conflicting.
Yes, being vegan has brought about some major changes in the way I view people as well. I feel more ‘awake’ as they say, enlightened in a way. I say this with humility and not grandiosity. There is something unexplainable that happens when you combine veganism with meditation. My perspective on life in general has significantly shifted. I can state, in confidence, that I have found my peace.
Is it every vegan’s duty to become an activist?
I’d like to believe it is but it would be unfair to expect it from every vegan if he/she is not cut out for it. For instance, a highly empathetic individual who hasn’t developed enough mentally to disconnect and observe instead of absorbing, he/she would be at risk of suffering depression or PTSD from all the violence and suffering they’d absorb by being active on the field. However, it is my sincere hope these individuals too are doing their part in different ways and gain strength enough to do more.
How compassionate or empathetic are you towards non vegans?
I am compassionate towards all living beings whether they’re animals, vegans, non-vegans etc. I am not rude to anyone but I do tell the truth always, no matter who it is in presence of. I lay it on the table as it is and let the chips fall where they may.
Any recommended vegan books, social sites, blogs or pages?
There is a vegan dating app named ‘Veggly’, in case any vegans reading this are looking for vegan partners. Not sponsored. I just discovered it a few months ago and thought that was a great idea. Everyone needs someone.
Do you have a favorite movie or videos or your own media that you want to share?
I don’t have a favorite movie in particular. I enjoy real event-based documentaries, dystopian fiction, sci-fi etc. If you’re a newly transitioned vegan, I’d recommend watching Cowspiracy, Forks over knives, What the health and documentaries of that nature to remind yourself why you chose to go vegan.
What’s your favorite vegan restaurant?
I haven’t decided what I’d like to name it. It exists in the near future. If you ask me a few months from now, I’ll have a name. I am working on it.
As for now, there aren’t fully vegan restaurants I know of where I live. I have to pick my favorite vegetarian options out of the menu at restaurants and request the staff to veganize it.
Please share your favorite vegan recipe.
I’ll share one of my smoothie recipes since I am craving it right now.
– Shredded almonds
– Coconut flakes
– Chia seeds
*blend it all together with ice cubes, no liquid base*
Some encouraging words for new vegans?
Do not let the opinion of those who are one-dimensional thinkers affect you. You have most likely chosen to adopt this lifestyle because you are perceptive and can put yourself into someone else’s shoes, feel their suffering as it were your own. They may not understand where you’re coming from but you have the ability to understand them. So, do not respond to them out of anger. Speak your truth in a calm and collected manner if you ever find yourself in a discussion regarding veganism. Also, please make sure you’re on a healthy vegan diet and getting all the vitamins, nutrients etc. your body needs. Thank you for choosing to reduce suffering!
What is the vegan scene like in your city?
The concept of veganism is fairly new where I live. I’ve only met two other vegans where I live. I’m sure there is small community of vegans somewhere out there but I’m not much of a ‘let’s go out and meet new people’ kind of person. I can socialize well and don’t dislike it but I am not particularly excited by it. It is something I am trying to get myself to do more often though. I am definitely a work in progress in that sense and will definitely get into the scene more as soon as I complete writing my second book.
What personal recommendations can you make for people to meet other vegans?
Social media – use hashtags, support vegan activists, socialize virtually, include ‘vegan’ in your bio. (your account shows up when someone types vegan into the search box)
In person – Attend vegan events, frequent vegan restaurants, go into the woods and whisper, ‘bacon is life’ and a vegan will show up to argue with you. Just kidding.
What are your favorite vegan non-food products or companies?
I like Kat Von D lip paints, all of Urban Decay products, Anastasia Beverly Hills brow products, Becca cosmetics etc. I enjoy make up.
What is the toughest vegan item to find that you need?
Taking into account where I live at the moment – Cruelty free make up and substitutes for dairy besides soymilk. That should be it. I don’t need too much. Oh, and desserts! I have a sweet tooth.
Talk about a time when you struggled with your veganism?
I have never struggled with veganism. It feels natural to me, like it is home. I’m trying not to talk in abstract terms here but it felt like it had always been my calling, to live a lifestyle that best aligns with who I am at my core. People often say ‘how do you survive being vegan, you must crave meat and dairy etc.’ but no, I don’t. I accidentally ate Tofu that had fish in it during a family gathering and shrugged it off casually upon realization because I did not want to create a scene but the first thing I did when I reached home was throw up. Bad note to end the interview on. Sorry.