Being Vegan, Vegan Being: Marion Sinnesael – When I Finally Understood Veganism, I Felt Betrayed by my Education and Culture

Tell us a little about yourself.

Hi there, my name is Marion and I’m a freelance illustrator and graphist. I live in Bordeaux with my boyfriend Malik and our roommate Marcel, a Holland lop bunny.

I’m really passionate about drawing, I’ve always loved it. When I became vegan, it became obvious to me that I wanted to draw more animals and the environment. I think illustration is a great way to share the message of veganism and sustainability. It touches people in a different way than words.

Art For Australia

What lead you to veganism?

Marcel really helped me and my boyfriend make the connection. We were still omnivores when we adopted him. But over the months, this little guy really got under our skins and made us question our whole way of life. Bunnies are incredible animals. They’re so funny, curious and social with humans once you earn their trust. It took us a few months to get to know and understand him, but as time went by, we’ve seen an amazing evolution in his behavior towards us. We just understood each other better. He used to be so scared and suspicious when we tried to get close to him. Now, he’s like a dog. He wakes us up in the morning because he’s hungry, he jumps on the couch so that we can pet him, he runs in circles around our feet when he’s happy to see us… I could ramble on about him forever. The point is, he made us realize the distinction we make between cats/dogs and the rest of the animals is ridiculous. Why should we eat some of them and love others?

From the moment I realized that I researched veganism even more. I watched documentaries, I read books and things became pretty clear: veganism was the solution to a lot of our problems. It just felt like the right decision. My boyfriend and I were already vegetarians since 2018 and we became vegan about six months ago now. It wasn’t that hard to make him join the vegan team with me. Marcel is so cute he can convince anyone that it’s just stupid to harm animals. For any reason, whether it is for food, for clothes, for cosmetics, for entertainment.

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

Concerning food, I stopped dairy products overnight, after watching Dominion. It was pretty hard during the first month. There was just so much to learn in terms of cooking, we were reading recipes containing products that we didn’t even know about. Also, in France, veganism isn’t really such a big thing yet, it’s not that easy to find some specific products used in vegan cooking sometimes. But things are actually running pretty smoothly now. As for any change in our lives, we need time to adjust. As for clothing, I’m not perfect yet. I won’t buy any new clothes made with animals, but I still didn’t get rid of the ones I’ve bought before. I’ll replace them progressively by vegan stuff. For cosmetics and makeup, I’m almost done, except for maybe 2 or 3 three products that I have to finish. Otherwise, I’ve switched to a completely natural routine.

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

Definitely. It may sound silly but when I finally understood veganism, I kind of felt betrayed by my education, my culture. At the same time, I felt guilty and dumb for not questioning my food before as it was now so obvious! Haha, It was such a mix of weird feelings. So yes, I think children should know what eating meat really involves for the animals, for the environment, and for their health. I wish I had known before. I’m not saying we should make children watch Dominion of course, but I think they are a lot of ways to make them understand in a kind and nontraumatic way: children’s books, illustrations, conversations… I think children are smart and capable of understanding things pretty quickly. 🙂

What does being vegan mean to you?

During the first weeks Malik and I were so busy learning to cook vegan stuff that we didn’t really think of anything else, so I’d say it was mostly a diet. Now, 6 months later, it’s more of a way of life. We try to be more conscious and environmentally friendly for everything, we’re not perfect yet, there’s just so much to do, but I know we’re getting there. For example, during the last few weeks, I educated myself to make homemade cleaning products and my next mission will be to read stuff about natural medicine. Being vegan is also a mindset. I think we’re more compassionate, more respectful, more kind towards everyone. I also became way more sensitive and emotional which is sometimes hard to deal with.

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

I think being vegan is an act of activism. We already participated in a few marches for animals rights, I draw about it on my IG account, I talk about it to my friends. I think everyone should really try to do his best and focus on what they’re already doing for animals and not focus on all the things they’re not doing yet.

How compassionate or empathetic are you towards non-vegans?

That’s a hard one. I can’t hate people because they eat meat, that would be ridiculous as I’ve been there myself. Who am I to judge them? During my first weeks of veganism, I was pretty emotional about the subject though, I still am sometimes. But as time goes by, I’m slowly starting to be more peaceful about it, it’s like I’m building fences in my mind to stay calm and open when I hear stuff that I don’t like. I just wish people would be curious about this issue, that they would at least watch a few documentaries and read some stuff before saying « I’ll never stop eating meat and cheese ». I’m sure many of them would change their minds if they just took the time to educate themselves about veganism and what it

really means. My friends aren’t vegan but they understand my opinion and how sensitive I am about it. They didn’t watch Dominion yet though… It’s like they don’t wanna know, they’re scared to watch or I don’t know. It’s hard for me to get that and I think it’s hard for them to really get me if they don’t know as much as I know.

Any recommended social sites, blogs or pages?

You can check out my IG account. I like to draw about nature, animals and good food. It’s @mariondoodles. I’m also planning on opening an Esty shop in 2020 (something like February or March?) and I’ll try to make some nice vegan prints and postcards! As I’m French, most of the accounts I follow are in French.

Food: @LaPetiteOkara, @Deliaciouss, @Eva_lespetitsplats

Illustration: @hollyexley_illustration

Do you have a favorite movie or videos or your own media that you want to share?

Of course, I would advise anyone to watch Cowspiracy, Dominion, What The Health, The Game Changers. They are kind of the basics! I’ve also loved Our Planet on Netflix, there are such wonderful images and it makes you realize how beautiful and fragile ecosystems are. Also, it makes you see animals in a whole new light.

What’s your favorite Vegan restaurant?

I didn’t try all the vegan restaurants in Bordeaux, but for now, my favorite is Wild Note Vegan Burger. They make incredible burgers and their cakes are amazing!

Please share your favorite vegan recipe?

It changes over time but right now, I’m a huge fan of vegetable curry and rice. You can find it here.

It’s not my recipe, I took it from La Petite Okara who is a French vegan cook. She has a blog and a Youtube Channel. 🙂

Some encouraging words for new Vegans?

You’re doing the right thing, don’t give up even though beginnings kind is tricky. Everything will fall into place it’s okay to make mistakes. We all do. 🙂

What is the vegan scene like in your city?

I guess it’s okay for a French city. We have some small groceries shop, a few restaurants. I’d like to have a vegan cheese store though. Even though 2019 has been a huge year for veganism in France, I still think we’re so late compared to other countries. French gastronomy is all about meat, cheese, and charcuterie. Most people don’t picture themselves going vegan yet.

What is the toughest Vegan item to find that you need?

Kala namak salt. We never tried it, we intended to order it online (as there’s no other choice in our city)

but I don’t know, we never did it because it just seems silly to pay a delivery just for salt. But apparently, it really makes a difference on scrambled tofu so that it tastes a little like eggs. 🙂

Talk about a time when you struggled with your Veganism?

I don’t really struggle with veganism as a way of life. However, I do struggle with the world we live in. There are so many advertisements for animal products, shop with animal products, meat restaurants. Once you’ve realized it, it’s really everywhere and I find it hard to deal with. It’s like I’m constantly reminded that animals die every day. Also, in Bordeaux, not far from where I live, there is this huge square. And regularly, there is a circus, horses show and stuff like that. It just really breaks my heart to have to witness that.

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