Being Vegan, Vegan Being: Kristy Draper – We are All Sentient Beings, Each On Our Own Path.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I live in Vancouver, WA, with my husband, Steven, our three companion cats, and two companion mice. I grew up in the Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas area, but have lived in Maryland, Massachusetts, Austin, TX, and then in Oregon and Washington. By day, I work for a book publisher based in Boston, but I also founded and run VegfulLife. VegfulLife offers Conscious Living Lifestyle Coaching, as well as vegan cooking classes and coaching. I am also a writer working on activism blogging, creating digital courses, and publishing in magazines and books.

You can find me online here –
Instagram: @vegfullife

What lead you to veganism? How long ago?

Growing up in Texas, I was exposed to animals being raised for food, but didn’t understand the process. When I was about 18 years old, my parents purchased a female cow and then took her to a nearby farm for some “romancing,” as they put it. In other words, they took her to the nearest bull to be impregnated. Around nine months later, she gave birth to a little boy named Nike. I watched his birth, and his first wobbly steps in awe. Over the next six months or so, I visited him in the pasture to watch him play, run around, and fed him little veggie treats. His mom was pretty protective of him and didn’t let me get too close. One day, I came home from class and found a note on our freezer that said, “Nikeville, USA.” I remember being so sad and confused. I couldn’t believe they took him to the butcher! I knew the day was coming, but I assumed they would change their minds because I felt like he became part of our family.  His mother cried for him for a few weeks and paced back and forth in the pasture with nervous energy. Being that I still lived at home with my parents, I didn’t feel as though I had a choice or say in what I ate. So, I ate my friend. I felt guilty each time I opened the freezer door or cooked a meal using him. Guilt is a funny thing though. I found ways and excuses to justify what I was doing and who I was eating. I did that for many years later. In a way, I think that moment and that memory is what made me start thinking about my food not as it, but as who. Years later, my husband and I started making the connections about factory farming, our food system, the environmental impact, and the harm we were causing. We both became vegetarian in 2012, he going vegan just a few months later, and then I went fully vegan in 2014.

When you first went vegan how did you phase out your non-vegan food, clothing and other items?

Having been a vegetarian for a few years before being a vegan and living with a vegan husband, I didn’t have to change many food items. Dairy cheese was my only holdout, and I never used it at home (only on the occasional cheese pizza while I was out). As for other items, I didn’t wear any leather to start and found it easy to swap out household items (cleaning, beauty products, etc.) for cruelty-free versions. It did take time to research brands, but I am an information hoarder and didn’t mind the time spent learning about companies. As my research deepened, I started understanding the effects of slave labor in so many industries and realized that just because it is vegan doesn’t mean it is cruelty-free. That said, it is impossible to be perfect. There are so many products that we touch or consume each day that has some type of animal and human use and abuse. Research and change will always be needed to continue to live a cruelty-free lifestyle, to the greatest extent possible.

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?

The only exception I make is for my three companion cats. They are all seniors and continue to eat a normal feline diet.

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

As a non-vegan child, I was pretty clueless about how food ended up on my plate each day. I knew, to a degree, that I was eating an animal, but it didn’t know how they were raised and killed. Plus, at that point, I thought animals were here for us to eat. I was a sensitive child (and still a sensitive adult), and I loved animals. I didn’t miss an opportunity to pet every dog, cat, or bunny that I came across. I love being around horses and visiting my uncle’s cows (ones I didn’t know were being raised for food). I would have put the vegan pieces in place much sooner had I been exposed to the process at a younger age. I believe we can expose children to the reality of life in gentle manners that they will be able to understand and process.

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?

I thread veganism, kindness, and compassion into every aspect of my life as much as I can. Steven and I each earned a master’s degree from the Institute for Humane Education, where we learned about most good, least harm, and being a solutionary. As I mentioned, we can strive for perfectionism, but it is nearly impossible to obtain. I take and assess each situation as it comes and find the least harmful way forward. For me, veganism isn’t a one-issue stand. I went vegan to help eliminate the harm I was causing to animals. But I realized that I was also fighting oppression on many different levels. Going vegan for the animals allowed me to find a voice to help fight local and global issues – human rights (racism, discrimination, human trafficking, slave labor, and so many more!), protecting and trying to rebuild our environment, and, helping to change our cultural norms to be more compassionate and inclusive.

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

To me, every vegan is an activist in their own way because we each are leading by example. It can be through cooking, writing, protesting, being an athlete, creating videos or podcasts, or any other hobbies. We each have our own gifts and abilities, and I believe our compassionate lifestyles naturally shine through them.

How compassionate or empathetic are you towards non-vegans?

We are all sentient beings, each on our own path. We each deserve to be heard and shown compassion. With that, I do believe non-vegans are more open to receiving vegan insight and planting seeds with them if we have compassion and empathy for me.

Any recommended Vegan books?

Most Good, Least HarmWhy We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows,

Any recommended social sites, blogs or pages?

Vegan Richa, Post Punk Kitchen, Institute for Human Education, Fat Vegan Voice, VeganLife

What’s your favorite Vegan restaurant?

How do you pick just one?! Seasoned Vegan in Harlem, Casa de Luz in Austin, Green Cuisine in Victoria, B.C., Sweet Lemon Vegan Bistro in Portland.

Please share your favorite vegan recipe?

Cheater Baked Beans in Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero

Some encouraging words for new Vegans?

Take it one step at a time. You are embarking on a journey that will change your life, and you are not alone. Find a vegan community that fits your personality, either virtual or in person, and I promise you will find a new extended family.

What is the vegan scene like in your city?

I live just outside of Portland, Oregon, so it is bliss. There is a huge vegan community and countless places to eat!

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

You can find other vegans through social media platforms (I met two of my closest friends through Instagram) or doing an online search for vegans in your area or vegan events in your area.

Talk about a time when you struggled with your Veganism?

While many vegans are inclusive of all different types of vegans, some look down upon fat vegans. Being a fat vegan myself, I’ve been told that I am not a good representation of the vegan lifestyle and that I can’t be as effective as a vegan voice because of the way that I look. Many people, vegans included, think that vegans are always thin and always healthy.  Going vegan is advertised as a fix-all solution for losing weight and becoming healthy. It is disheartening to hear that from other vegans, especially when they have set out to lead life with compassion. Vegans come in all shapes, sizes, races, nationalities, abilities, and gender identities. Together, we can make an inclusive community that shows the world what it means to live with compassion and lead by example.

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  1. I love this article about the amazing Kristy Draper — reading it made me feel like this voice — the voice of inclusion for all life and vegans of every kind — needs to be to amplified. Thank you for posting this! If you follow Vegful Life you will gain both wise perspective AND some outstanding original vegan recipes. I am inspired every time!

  2. Kristy, thank you so much for this beautiful interview and for all you do to make sure world a better place! I couldn’t agree more with, “We each have our own gifts and abilities, and I believe our compassionate lifestyles naturally shine through them.”

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