Being Vegan, Vegan Being: Rachel Atchenson – It’s not about being perfect.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m from DC and now live in NYC, where I work as the Deputy Strategist for Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams on plant-based nutrition initiatives. I help institutions adopt healthy, plant-forward initiatives like Meatless Mondays.

What lead you to veganism? How long ago? 

I went vegetarian for the environment and vegan for the animals 10 years ago. I then learned of the benefits of eating whole-food, plant-based and became even more motivated to spread the benefits of plant-based eating to others.

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

I kept non-vegan clothing and items until I was done with them.

Do you believe we should show children the process of how animals are turned into meats?
I think we should talk to children about how meat comes from animals. This is a fact that is so often unknown by kids because there’s such a large disconnect between them.

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?

To me, veganism is reducing the suffering of animals as much as possible. It’s interconnected with other social justice issues so it entails treating other humans with respect as well. I think it’s important to note that non-vegan companies introducing vegan products to their product line will allow veganism to grow and thrive, which is exactly what we want. And bees and bugs are cool – I wouldn’t kill them unnecessarily.

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

I’m not sure, but I think most vegans advocate in some way or another, whether it be through social media, talking to their peers, or working in government (like me!).

How compassionate or empathetic are you towards non-vegans?

If we want non-vegans to join the side of compassion, we need to be compassionate and empathetic towards them. Humans are animals too – so obviously we should be compassionate to our fellow human beings.

Any recommended Vegan books? 

I recommend How Not to Die, Eating Animals, and We Are the Weather. 

Any recommended social sites, blogs or pages?

I recommend NutritionFacts.org. 

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

I love The Game Changers!

What’s your favorite Vegan restaurant?
Hmmm…that’s difficult. I love Bunna Café, an Ethiopian restaurant in Brooklyn.

Please share your favorite vegan recipe?
Ants on a log – a classic. Celery with peanut butter and raisins.

Some encouraging words for new Vegans?

It’s not about being perfect. There may be times when you slip up, but that’s okay. And know that there are so many people who believe in your veganism too.

What is the vegan scene like in your city? 

Amazing. I am so blessed to live in NYC where veganism is so accessible and delicious.

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

Use social media and online networking. They’re out there.

Talk about a time when you struggled with your Veganism?

It’s sometimes difficult to watch people feed their health crisis by eating unhealthy foods.

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