Tell us a little about yourself.
I have lived in the NW for 14 years. I am a family practice nurse for a major healthcare provider. I consider myself a lifestyle artist. I am always finding ways to create enriching experiences for myself and immediate family. This has led me to many adventures whether inspired by socialist beliefs in wealth equity as in my travels to Cuba in the early ’90s, to going to Europe with my two small children to volunteer on organic farms as a “WWOFer” to start my own CSA in VA, and then moving to the NW to pursue a career in health care. I have been driven all my life towards justice for the most vulnerable. That purpose came full circle when I opened my eyes to the ubiquitous animal abuse industries that permeate through every facet of our lives. I became an animal rights activist on the spot upon this realization and it has led me to meet many great people and organizations.
What lead you to veganism? How long ago?
I was enlightened to veganism by my middle daughter who challenged me to learn the facts about animal agriculture. I watched Cowspiracy in May 2016 and instantly went vegan. It’s funny because I think there is a meme about that very thing, it has the Stepbrothers film reference and it totally fits me. To be totally honest though I was a vegetarian from the age of 17 to 25 years old and until fully committing to veganism was already on a plant-centric diet.
When you first went vegan how did you phase out your non-vegan food, clothing, and other items?
I found that phasing out animal products was the easiest in the phase-out process. I was already a healthy eater, barely eating junk food or lots of meat. The hardest thing has been the nonfood items. If you don’t pause and think about it you will end up buying things like goat milk body soap, wool rugs, or cashmere sweaters without realizing you have just participated in funding animal abuse. Just last year I bought a rug and later found out it has some wool. It was a lesson and reminder to check, thoroughly, all ingredients and materials.
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 became strict about my Veganism maybe a year into being vegan. What I mean by that is that I stopped buying anything with animal products for anyone. Now if my kids or my significant other wants me to buy dinner or groceries they know it will be 100% plant-based. This was hard for them to understand at first but later they agreed that I couldn’t be complicit or sanction animal abuse.
Do you believe we should show children the process of how animals are turned into meats?
Absolutely. We don’t keep kids from seeing violence in films so we shouldn’t mask the real process of how their food is procured. If you can take your kid to a vegetable farm but not a slaughterhouse that’s cognitive dissonance in action.
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?
Being vegan to me is a process of self-discovery. I have never been so challenged, conflicted, saddened, joyous, hopeful, and optimistic all at once. In these almost 4 years I have jumped in full force into all aspects of veganism; animal studies, activism, health, cooking, community. Initially, I had the knee jerk reaction against all things nonvegan: people, businesses, products. I have evolved through to understand that not all people can detach from their habits and ideas overnight. In practical terms where I am at now is that I support restaurants that have vegan options, I want them to know there is a demand for this. I can easily hang out with non-vegan friends and I can avoid talking about Veganism in social settings unless it comes up of course. I feel like I am back to being myself: adventurous, truth-seeking, fun-loving, and very social.
Is it every vegan’s duty to become an activist?
To some degree yes. But what that looks like can be as small as introducing your friend to a fab vegan meal or supporting others, either financially or otherwise, that do the hard work: undercover investigations, street activism, vlogs… I can’t devote as much time as I would like to direct activism but I donate 10% of my income to various people and organizations working hard to improve the conditions of all animals even humans.
How compassionate or empathetic are you towards non-vegans?
Very compassionate. I was a meat-eater with cultural blinders too. My own household is not 100% vegan but they are mostly plant-based and that matters to me.
Any recommended Vegan books?
The best book for understanding vegan health is Becoming Vegan by Brenda Davis. 2nd best book is, Are We Smart Enough to know how smart animals are- by Franz De Waal. Probably the best book on animal intelligence ever written.
Any recommended social sites, blogs or pages?
Our Henhouse podcast is the best source of information for all the exciting developments around activism, food, art, social justice.
Do you have a favorite movie or videos or your own media that you want to share?
Cowspiracy– that documentary changed my life. Plant pure nation and Forks over Knives for health knowledge and believe it or not my most recent favorite documentary is Super-Size Me 2 because it is actually an exposé on the meat & fast food industry and all their deceptive and heinous practices.
What’s your favorite Vegan restaurant?
Baby Blue Pizza right here in Portland and Cafe gratitude in So. Cal.
Please share your favorite vegan recipe?
Vegan alfredo recipe by The Vegan 8. Hands down the best recipe I have made for non-vegans, they are always amazed that this recipe is better than traditional Alfredo.
Some encouraging words for new Vegans?
Trust your sense of justice, compassion, and idealism. Your actions are directly linked to solving many of our world’s problems.
What is the vegan scene like in your city?
I am spoiled to be living in Portland Oregon where there are is so much vegan love. We have a huge VegFest every year which I am proud to be a volunteer and member of. Several restaurants in this city are strictly vegan which is a luxury compared to the rest of the nation.
What personal recommendations can you make for people to meet other vegans?
Go out and meet folks in the various clubs, meetups, and events around veganism that happen in your city. You will be surprised by all the different backgrounds that come together for our cause.
What does living cruelty-free mean to you? Does it extend to the way you as a vegan treats other humans too?
I am as much committed to non-human animals as I am to humans. It’s what guides my work as a nurse. I believe extending my compassion to others means providing them with education on health from a plant-based diet. What my patients do with that information is entirely up to them but I make sure to plant some seeds on an alternative view.
What are you favorite Vegan non-food products or companies?
KatVonD makeup , Oatly, Herbivore Clothing, all vegan tattoo ink.
What is the toughest Vegan item to find that you need?
Honestly, nothing is hard to find because if I can’t find it at a market I look online to companies like Thrive or Mylk guys.
Talk about a time when you struggled with your Veganism?
Strangely it was only recently that I had one moment of regret and it was for the stupidest reason. Taking my daughter down to college in Eugene we couldn’t find a place to pull over for breakfast that wasn’t the usual fast-food fare. For that whole day, I was stuck thinking how much my diet is still not mainstream enough to make road trips easy. I snapped out of it though pretty rapidly remembering that my choices today will pay off tomorrow.