Tell us a little about yourself.
Hi I’m Shonece, I was born and raised in Bay Point (Pittsburg depending on who you ask) Ca. I am a preschool teacher. I am passionate about my vegan journey and all that it encompasses. Please check out my Instagram to check out real vegan reviews of products, pop ups and restaurants. You don’t have to face being vegan alone, it really is a rewarding journey of self discovery. You can find me online here: @veganchonise
What lead you to veganism? How long ago?
I have a long history health issues on my mother and fathers side of the family and after losing both my grandmother and grandfather to those illnesses I knew I needed a change. I’ve always known the health benefits of eating a plant based diet but it wasn’t until about three years ago I decided to go vegetarian. But six months in I knew I was mentally strong enough in my goals of becoming vegan and jumped into my vegan journey. Here I am now on my third year being fully vegan.
When you first went vegan how did you phase out your non-vegan food, clothing and other items?
I started with taking out red meat entirely, turkey, chicken, and then fish. I reached out to products like Gardein that were easily accessible at my local grocery stores. I would look up plant based recipes for meat replacements like mushrooms.
Do you believe we should show children the process of how animals are turned into products?
I am very open with being vegan at my preschool so when children inquire about it. It is an open discussion. You can see how they make the connection of that animal is what I’m eating. The empathy is there but the normality of eating meat is already engrained.
What does being vegan mean to you?
For me I find it hard to identify with the term vegan. I am more for the social justice of people of color as well as the impact the slaughter companies, milk companies and the medical industry has on our food consumption. I will eat at a non vegan restaurant if there are vegan options. I do not consume honey but I don’t beat myself up mentally if I unknowingly consume it whether chapstick or in a drink. I try to treat other humans with compassion and empathy.
Is it every vegan’s duty to become an activist?
I wouldn’t say it’s a vegans duty but it is important to be proactive in the education of veganism.
Do you have a favorite movie or videos or your own media that you want to share?
Badassvegan is working on a documentary that I am eager to see.
What’s your favorite Vegan restaurant?
I don’t think I can choose just one restaurant. For instance if I wanted sushi I’d go to Shizen in San Francisco. If I wanted a pastry I would go to Timeless. If I wanted brunch I would go to The Butcher’s Son in Berkeley. If I wanted fine dining I would go to Millennium in Oakland. If I wanted a sandwich and steak fries I would go to TheVeg hub. Last but not least TACOS would be Taqueria La Veganza who started off in the Bay Area but is now having pop ups in the Santa Ana/ LA area.
Some encouraging words for new Vegans?
Don’t let the word vegan scare you. Consuming a plant based diet is beneficial to yourself, the planet and the animals. If you mess up and eat something not vegan learn from it and keep going.
What is the vegan scene like in your city?
It’s buzzing! I’m from the Bay Area where Berkeley is full of vegan options and non vegan restaurants are offering vegan options to there menus. In fact one of the popular restaurants highlighted in vegnews is Cybelle’s Front Room which offers a full page front to back of vegan options.
What personal recommendations can you make for people to meet other vegans?
I would say the biggest way to meet other vegans is to go to vegan restaurants. Also social media can be scary as socialites aren’t really responsive to meet ups. But definitely look for vegan events like pop ups and Meetups. Hashtags can get you pretty far on your search to meet other vegans.
What does living cruelty-free mean to you?
Living cruelty-free means not partaking in any consumption or usage of products that harm animals. With the understanding that there will be times you don’t know.
What are you favorite Vegan non-food products or companies?
Organigrow/ Organiglow hair and skin company Fruits roots fruit delivery REI has a great options for vegan outdoor needs. Olivina for men’s body wash. Meyers cleaning products. Hello fluoride free toothpaste and floss
What is the toughest Vegan item to find that you need?
Deodorant that works. I’ve spent a lot of money on vegan deodorant and I just haven’t been able to find one that works.
Talk about a time when you struggled with your Veganism?
My now fiancé surprise birthday party was full of all his favorite foods. When the initial surprise was over and it was time to eat I realized I had forgotten to get myself something. It was great that everyone was enjoying themselves but I ended up not eating that night.