Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m 26 years old and was born and raised in Germany. I moved to the U.S. 5.5 years ago and I currently live in Pittsburgh, PA. I’m an Administrative Coordinator and freelance editor. Because my job is far from fulfilling, I’m also a part-time college student with a major of health and physical education. Eventually, I want to be my own boss and run a consulting business focused on providing individuals with the resources and education they need to feel their best inside and out.
What lead you to veganism? How long ago?
This July will be my second vegan anniversary. It all started when a friend posted a picture of a cat on Facebook who had been subjected to cruel cosmetics testing. I have 3 cats myself and having this direct comparison made me sick to my stomach. We know about cosmetics being tested on animals, but without a visual, the concept doesn’t necessarily stick. A cruelty-free personal care and cleaning products, or (involuntarily) dove more and more into the cruelty behind our “food” as well, and it got hard to ignore to the truth. It took one speech from Gary Yourofsky to give me the final push.
When you first went vegan how did you phase out your non-vegan food, clothing and other items?
I was vegetarian for about a week while I figured out how to make work lunches and meatless dinners. It took a couple months and some pretty yucky, failed attempts at making this new-to-me food, but eventually, I stopped relying heavily on meat alternatives and got more into a whole-foods based diet. After my taste buds had adjusted to how food ACTUALLY tastes, without all the artificial crap, it got really easy to just appreciate and love plain ol’ veggies and giant fruit platters, and simple oatmeal is legit my favorite food now!
I’m still wearing the occasional leather shoe, but they will be replaced with vegan shoes once they are worn out. I don’t believe we should throw out perfectly good clothes, but slowly phase them out and not buy them again.
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 NEVER make exceptions for myself because I simply can’t bear the thought of betraying the animals. However, if I accidentally eat something non-vegan (dairy has happened on 2 occasions, to my knowledge), I don’t beat myself up and try to move on. I didn’t do it on purpose, and will be more careful in the future. For visitors, I reluctantly allow dairy products in my house, but never meat. I can’t stand the thought of having that in my house ever again.
Do you believe we should show children the process of how animals are turned into meats?
Yes, absolutely, however, the footage need not be the most graphic we can get our hands on.
What does being vegan mean to you?
I try my best not to harm ANYONE, no matter how small. That extends to bugs and bees as well. If they’re outside, leave them alone, and if they’re inside, catch them and set them free. Veganism has definitely made me a kinder and more loving person all around, not just when it comes to animals. It opened my eyes just as much to social injustice where humans are concerned.
Is it every vegan’s duty to become an activist?
Yes, but I think most people’s definition of “activism” is too narrow. An activist is anybody who speaks out for their cause, no matter how they choose to do it. It can be thru vigils, cubes of truth, but also wearing clothing that displays the message, or creating a page on social media that aims to educate, or show people how easy it is to cook animal free. There are so many ways to be an activist!
How compassionate or empathetic are you towards non-vegans?
I try not to be the “angry vegan”, but people sure don’t make it easy sometimes! I really do try to be friendly and open to conversation and I’m constantly working on improving the way I handle difficult individuals or those who are just out to pick a fight.
Any recommended Vegan books?
“How to create a Vegan World” by Tobias Leenaert
Any recommended social sites, blogs or pages?
Chocolate Covered Katie is my favorite website for easy, delicious, and healthy desserts and savory dishes
Minimalist Baker and Oh She Glows are great food blogs as well
Instagram is my personal vegan haven, there are so many inspiring people to follow!
What’s your favorite Vegan restaurant?
By Chloe and Urban Vegan Kitchen in NYC
Please share your favorite vegan recipe?
The black bean brownies from Chocolate Covered Katie are always perfection. Really, any of her recipes are!
Some encouraging words for new Vegans?
Don’t ever let anyone make you feel silly, or stupid, or like what you’re doing doesn’t make a difference. You know in your heart that it does. Don’t give up, keep going and ask for help if you need it, it will get easier!
What is the vegan scene like in your city?
What personal recommendations can you make for people to meet other vegans?
Join Meetup – I’d imagine they have a vegan group in every bigger city. Find out if your city has a “Save” group (like L.A. Animal Save), an Anonymous for the Voiceless chapter, or any other activist or vegan food group. Find a vegan festival in your area and strike up a conversation with someone stuffing their face with the same delicious food as you!
What does living cruelty-free mean to you? Does it extend to the way you as a vegan treats other humans too?
It means living in a way that causes the least harm possible and extends to all living beings as well as the Earth.
What are you favorite Vegan non-food products or companies?
Method and Seventh Generation cleaning products and Wet’n Wild Cosmetics.
What is the toughest Vegan item to find that you need?
Good cheese alternatives for the occasional hankering are still somewhat hard to find outside of Whole Foods or Trader Joes, neither of which are close to me
Talk about a time when you struggled with your Veganism?
Company outings and group lunches when I first went vegan. I stood my ground every time and was happy to explain why I’m not eating the cheesecake, but I felt like an outcast at first. But now everyone knows and it’s our new “normal”, and frankly, I couldn’t care less what anyone thinks of me, because I know I’m doing the right thing.