My name is Tess Rafferty, and I’m a compassionate lifestyle coach! I’m from NY originally and currently live in Santa Monica, California. I believe compassion is the key to a joyful life, so I first help my clients develop more compassion towards themselves, which they then extend to the world around them. This is accomplished through many different channels, including within their personal relationships, through serving their communities and making cruelty-free diet and lifestyle choices. We cultivate compassion together in a number of ways, including coaching, meditation, and vegan lifestyle consulting.
What was the moment you realize that you wanted to go vegan?
I’d been vegetarian on and off my whole life, and by early last year I had cut out red meat but was still consuming other animal products. I think the universe conspired to finally help me see the light – both my mother and one of my best friends started talking about veganism, and then a clip from a dairy farm popped up on my Facebook newsfeed. At that moment it just clicked, and I knew I was about to make some huge, exciting changes in my diet and lifestyle.
How long have you been Vegan?
Just about a year!
Why is being Vegan important to you?
Being vegan is THE most important thing to me, because to me it’s about compassion, about love and gratitude for all life, and that belief is the closest thing to religion I have.
Any recommended Vegan books?
I always recommend and have my clients read “Main Street Vegan” by Victoria Moran. It’s just so accessible, easy and enjoyable to read. There are some wonderful books out there that are very informative and important but can easily put off someone new to the vegan movement, whether that’s because they have too much information or demand a very strict, immediate change.
Any recommended social sites, Facebook Groups or other?
I follow so many inspiring people and organizations on Instagram – it’s definitely my favorite social platform for engaging with the vegan community. It’s really hard to pick just a few, but I’m a huge fan of @thevegan8 and @minimalistbaker for recipes. I also definitely encourage anyone interested in veganism to search for local groups on Facebook and Meetup. Having a community is so important, and ideally, you’ll have one both online and locally!
Do you have a favorite movie or videos or your own media that you want to share?
Nothing new to most vegans out there but Cowspiracy, Forks Over Knives and What the Health are my MUST-sees, and I recommend them to pretty much anyone I speak with for more than 5 minutes! Also, Melanie Joy’s Tedx talk on carnism, because it’s much easier to get someone to commit to 20 minutes than a whole feature film.
Do you actively promote veganism? How? Please share any stories you would like.
I promote veganism every single day – I probably bring it up in every conversation I have, but I like to think I have a way of doing so that isn’t annoying! People (including non-vegans) still talk to me, so it must be working. I also promote veganism on my Instagram – I’ve become more and more comfortable speaking my truth on social media platforms, and while it’s definitely gotten me a few unfollows and unfriends, there’s no better feeling than seeing your friends and followers make cruelty-free choices based on info you’ve relayed, advice you’ve given, or recipes you’ve shared.
What is your favorite Vegan meme?
Oh gosh, this is hard…everything on @veganflexzone on Instagram.
What is the vegan stereotype you hear the most and how do you respond to it?
I’ve been really lucky in that most people I encounter are genuinely curious and not immediately judgmental. What I hear most is just complete misinformation – worries about calcium, or protein, or how their blood type “needs” meat. Stuff I believed 100% even as a vegetarian! I very quickly realized you catch more flies with agave nectar than vinegar, so I start with “I totally thought that too, but what’s crazy is…” and fill in the facts from there.
What’s your favorite Vegan restaurant?
This is crazy hard, especially since moving to LA! I have to say I’d eat at Veggie Grill every day if I could. Also obsessed with Erven in downtown Santa Monica and Cafe Gratitude in Venice.
Please share your favorite vegan recipe?
The Baked Chee Spaghetti Casserole from Ten Talents cookbook (via Main Street Vegan ) is TO DIE FOR. I was lucky enough to have Victoria Moran cook it for me at the Main Street Vegan Academy and it’s the best I’ve ever had.
Some encouraging words for new Vegans?
It’s ok if it’s not easy, but it’s easier than you think. Find communities online and locally, ask for help, and don’t be hard on yourself if you’re not “perfect”! Also…email me!
What does living cruelty-free mean to you?
Living cruelty-free means to do my best to cause as little harm and suffering to all beings. I adopted a vegan diet first, and then over the following year made my entire home cruelty-free, from my bathroom and cleaning products to my makeup and my closet. Even my dog is vegan! My meditation and spiritual practices have also helped me to expand my compassion for myself and for my fellow human beings, which I believe is an integral part of living a cruelty-free life.
What are you favorite Vegan non-food products or companies?
So many amazing ones to choose from! Yes To, Pacifica, and Juice Beauty skin products, GUNAS handbags, Beyond Skin shoes, Ella + Mila nail polish, clothes from Vegan Scene boutique (Venice, CA and online).
What is the toughest Vegan item to find that you need?
I’ve lived in NYC and LA so I’m spoiled! I think fresh produce is the most important foods for vegans and aspiring vegans to have access to. While it’s GREAT to have all sorts of meat and dairy substitutes, you can make so many delicious meals without them. If your local market’s produce selection isn’t great, I definitely recommend looking up local CSAs and doing some research on alternative options such as Imperfect Produce.
Talk about a time when you struggled with your Veganism?
In the beginning, I wasn’t 100% committed – I thought I’d be a pesce-vegan, or not vegan when traveling. I quickly realized that didn’t feel good and wasn’t in line with my values, and it’s been a very easy choice since then. While ideally, everyone would go vegan instantly, I believe in this case the end goal is more important than the journey. Everyone’s experience is totally different, which is why I’m so happy that as a vegan lifestyle coach I can be a resource for those who want to go vegan, but who might not have the same support that I did.