Tell us about yourself.
Originally from Jacksonville, Florida. Currently, I live in Hood River, Oregon. Moved here for the lifestyle, outdoor activities and incredible beauty of the Pacific Northwest (PNW). My profession was a Physician Assistant but no longer practice since having a significant injury to my left arm following an automobile accident 20 years ago. Currently, manage my own vacation/corporate rental business in Hood River.
What lead you to veganism? How long ago?
Looking back I realize I have always been an animal activist at heart. As a child I could never handle animal cruelty or abuse and adopted, rescued and brought home any and every wounded or abandoned creature I came across. Being completely unaware and disconnected to the food that was on my plate… I thought animal cruelty was mostly perpetrated in the form of animal experimentation and hunting. At this young age, I vowed I would never eat any “hunted” or “killed” animal all the while not connecting that I was eating “killed” farm animals. I don’t recall the reason but somewhere in my mid-twenties I decided I did not want to eat animals but thought I had to in order to be healthy and of course get my “protein” so I made the decision to become a “4-legged” vegetarian and not eat anything with 4 legs. I guess, I rationalized that chicken, turkey, and fish were the least of all evils if I had to eat animals. At that time, I loved and ate tons of dairy, again, having no idea that dairy involved any cruelty whatsoever to the cow or the calf. Fast forward to my mid-forties when I was diagnosed with two auto-immune diseases, one potentially life-threatening. A friend gave me the book “The China Study” by T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D. and I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I had already decided I wanted to try “natural” remedies to heal myself before any conventional approaches, despite being a conventionally trained medical practitioner. After reading this book and getting educated on how we not only don’t need to eat meat and animal products to be healthy….we are actually way better off not eating them. I immediately stopped all animal products and became a Vegan. Within less than a year all signs of both my autoimmune diseases were gone and I have remained symptomatically and clinically free of these diseases ever since. Approximately 7 years with no conventional medical intervention.
Despite getting educated on the health implications of eating animal protein and animal products I was still completely unaware of the cruelty going on in the meat and dairy industries, the environmental implications of animal agriculture and the depth of how humans exploit, breed, enslave, torture and slaughter all these innocent sentient beings for their convenience, profit, taste buds, sport and so much more. It wasn’t until coming across a James Aspey video 1.5 years ago that I realized what I and everyone I knew had been unconsciously contributing to most of our lives. My eyes were open to the most horrific reality and the animal holocaust and that reality became more gruesome the more research I did. I felt I had to tell everyone what I had learned and I had to do something but had no idea what that would be. Couldn’t believe the reaction or lack thereof that most friends and family had after hearing my story. I thought for sure everyone was going to be just as mortified as I was. Another awful realization. I felt so compelled by the video I saw of James that I decided to reach out to him via email and ask if he would be willing to come to the states to speak and tell his story. I was so taken by his passion to wake people up to the truth that all I could think of was getting him in front of as many people as possible. I knew this would be the greatest contribution I could personally make to this cause. He agreed and I sent another email to Seth Tibbot of the ‘Tofurky” company here in Hood River. I introduced myself and told him both my story and James’ in hope that he may help me bring him here to help spread awareness and the truth of what was really going on. He watched his video as well and was also very taken by what he saw and agreed to meet with me. We spent the winter months collaborating and ultimately put together a 2 – 3 week US- Tour in 2017 where James spoke at multiple venues and the National Animal Rights Conference. Traveling with James during this time introduced and exposed me to several forms of animal rights activism as we participated in a couple ‘Cubes of Truth”, attended a “Vigil” to bear witness of what happens as the animals arrive at the slaughterhouse and visited a few sanctuaries. The “Cubes of Truth” and the “Vigil” were so difficult for me personally but were so incredibly powerful.
All of these experiences have just fundamentally changed every aspect of my life and how I see the world and humanity. The darkness that overcomes you once you have been awakened to the truth haunts me on a daily basis. You are and never will be the same. Trying to stay positive and hopeful in our non-vegan world is incredibly difficult but seeing the small changes and the trajectory of the plant-based movement affords moments of hope and the inspiration needed to keep trying to make whatever little differences you can at every moment you can. At this time. my activism is mostly through social media trying to utilize my lifestyle to promote and bring attention to veganism through sharing information, truth, alternate food options, medical data, environmental statistics and simply shedding light on the cruelty. Really interested in changing the stigma that vegans get by showing we are normal, every day, educated, fun-loving, adventurous, healthy, fit individuals and that how proud I feel to be a Vegan.
The hardest part about being vegan for me besides being acutely aware of the enormity of the suffering occurring every second of every day is seeing the dark side of humanity, your friends and loved ones who continue to contribute to the madness and cruelty once being exposed to the truth. Remaining non-judgmental of otherwise respectable, good people may be the hardest thing I have ever been confronted with in my life.
Talk about a time when you struggled with your Veganism?
I don’t really struggle with my veganism as it is all about the animals and causing no suffering to any sentient being…this is so easy for me. I may be empathetic to a fault but I believe it is the most beautiful and peaceful way to exist. If we all lived by the “Golden Rule” what a beautiful place it would be!
What are you favorite Vegan non-food products or companies?
My favorite Vegan Company has to be Tofurky. Of course, I’m biased as the founder, Seth Tibbot has become a close friend and he is without a doubt one of the largest if not the largest contributor to the plant-based movement and overall awareness of what it means to live and build an amazing business and life in the most sustainable manner that is good for us all (humans and animals) as well as the planet we live on.
Do you have a favorite movie or videos or your own media that you want to share?
Favorite Vegan Movie is probably “What the Health” as it hit a chord with so many and it’s one that I can actually sit through and watch.
Some encouraging words for new Vegans?
For anyone considering going Vegan I would just say there is no one greater thing, you could do in this lifetime to make a greater impact on the lives of so many innocent animals, humans (including yourself), the environment, the planet, the oceans, the rainforests, and all future generations. I have never felt more at peace and beautiful within myself knowing I’m not harming or taking the lives of any sentient beings. Living by the “Golden Rule” of never doing unto another that which you would not want to be done to you brings me more peace than any religious figure, place, book, philosophy or family/societal tradition. As a Vegan, you are truly the embodiment of Love…Veganism is Love in action! As an ethical Vegan, you will be one of a small percentage of ever growing light in a very dark world and it will be very hard at times as most around you will not have the fortitude to stand alone with the same strength of conviction… but by leading by example and keeping your light shining bright you are paving a path and making it easier for others to follow. Try to derive your confidence from having the strength of character, conviction and standing up for what is right vs. being popular. Spend time with Vegan friends to recharge when you are bombarded by so many non-vegan friends, family members and people which can lead to disillusionment and hopelessness. Lastly be proud…you are a leader and a fighter for something greater than yourself and you are making a difference in the most important social justice, kind, loving and anti-cruelty movement of our time. I have never been more proud of anything in my life than fighting to end the suffering of so many innocent, sentient beings and fighting to save the incredible planet we all share. For me, it is about being a wonderful, kind, compassionate and loving human being to all…not just humans, my pets or certain animals but to all who possess sentience and have the ability to love and suffer just as we do.