Being Vegan, Vegan Being: Thomas Goodman – If we Show Compassion to everyone, We Cast a Far Wider Net of Future Vegans

Tell us a little about yourself. Where you live, what you do for a living. Please feel to share and promote anything you want here, business, social or websites. 

My name is Thomas Goodman, I reside in the DMV (DC/MD/VA) area with my companion animal cats: Sylvia, Sarah and Scholes. I am the Executive Director of the nonprofit Plant Dining Partnerships. At PDP, we work to provide resources to increase plant-based food options throughout foodservice industries in all communities, emphasizing food swamps, highlighting competitive price, taste and convenience opportunities.

What lead you to veganism? How long ago? 

Being raised meat-free since birth due to my mother’s love for animals played a pivotal role in my upbringing. Her dedication to animal rights shaped the course of my understanding how to better channel passion and strengths for sentient individuals. Of course, with the myriad of concerns in the egg and dairy industries it was seamless to later become vegan in 2007.

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

Due to how I was raised, I have been fortunate to seek out avoiding wearing animal clothing and meat consumption; sharing a big round of applause to individuals for making this transition with more variables in their day-to-day lives. 

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

When I was very young, my mother shared the process how animals were turned into meat as well as sharing other industries of animal exploitation. This worked well for our dynamic but each household is different. Teachers in the health, environmental and various other spaces have opened their classrooms for presentations on factory farming; it’s worth considering catering presentations based on the age of students accordingly.

Do you make any exceptions for yourself or if you are married with kids – your family, when it comes to veganism?

While I’m not married nor have children, when I am with my friends who are not already vegan, it is important to allow them to be comfortable with their decisions in your presence and avoid passing restrictions in this process. They will appreciate this and may move closer to sharing an open ear on the extensive reasons to eventually become vegan.

What does being vegan mean to you?

From my perspective, being vegan comes down to showing compassion to both human and non-human animals. Rescuing and setting bugs free outside is enjoyable to help ensure they’re okay and observing their beauty and characteristics up close. When non-vegan companies purchase vegan companies, we move closer to a world where animals will not be bred and raised for meat consumption. Animals deserve our pragmatic mindset and vision to reduce their timeline of immense suffering on factory farms. 

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

Activism comes in many shapes and sizes and can be relatable to anyone who’s considering more involved in this cause. If you enjoy standing tall for animal rights, there are protests for anyone to attend. If you are more behind the scenes type of individual, writing  Op-Eds and LTE’s are a great avenue to utilize your skills. If you are a foodie, sharing images of your food on social media goes a long way to making this movement mainstream. If you enjoy speaking publicly, there are presentations to give to many audiences. If you enjoy research, volunteering your time to organizations to help further their efforts. If you enjoy building a community, bringing people together is a great asset to this movement as well. Follow your passions, link up with friends, and enjoy helping from any angle which resonates within. 

How compassionate or empathetic are you towards non-vegans? 

The vast majority of vegans in existence today were not always vegan from day one. Sometimes it’s the messenger over the message when we represent the vegan movement. If we show compassion to everyone, we cast a far wider net of future vegans to help create a more vegan-friendly food system. 

Any recommended Vegan books? 

The Animal Activist Handbook by Bruce Friedrich and Matt Ball is a great read in my opinion. I also recommend How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie to help articulate this amazing vegan movement for everyone to get involved in. 

Any recommended social sites, blogs or pages?

There is a vast amount of resources for people to learn more on being vegan than ever before! Heading into January, I recommend Veganuary, and as mentioned prior, there are numerous sites such as PlantBasedOnABudget.com, NutritionFacts.org, DamGoodVegan.com, and many more.

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

The documentaries Game Changers and What The Health are some of my personal favorites; there are countless movies and videos out there for everyone to become immersed in this wonderful lifestyle. 

What’s your favorite Vegan restaurant?

Wow, this is difficult. “Kitchen 17” in Chicago makes a deep-dish pizza that no matter where you’re located in the country there’s a great reason to take a road trip to this establishment. 

Please share your favorite vegan recipe.

Strawberry Shortcake from Plant Based on a Budget is a winner any day of the week!

Some encouraging words for new Vegans? 

Starting out with anything new, there is a natural transition that may present obstacles than not experienced prior. Whether it’s for ethical, environmental, health or any other reason for initially going vegan, the rewards of being vegan for any of these reasons can’t be quantified or measured. Once you’re in the swing of things, you’ll wonder why you didn’t jump on board sooner!

What is the vegan scene like in your city? 

The DMV area is filled with wonderful establishments such as NuVegan, HipCityVeg, Greenfare, and so much more. If you come to the area, the HappyCow app will direct you to vegan options galore. 

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

I recommend joining local vegan MeetUp groups, Facebook groups, and connecting with both experienced vegans to pick their brains and also take the opportunity to mentor newly transitioned vegans as a resource. 

What does living cruelty-free mean to you? Does it extend to the way you as a vegan treats other humans too?

It’s very important to always remember to treat people the way you’d like to be treated. If someone doesn’t have the same views on their food intake, that’s okay, with a non-judgmental approach and sharing positive reinforcement, we are racing closer to a world without factory farms. The consumers who are creating this mass amount of plant-based demand are flexitarians. I believe if all things are created equal, individuals will choose a cruelty-free option. 

What are your favorite Vegan non-food products or companies? 

There are new groundbreaking companies making an impact which in simply inspiring. If I had to pick a favorite, I’d lean toward JUST. I’m in awe of their products and in particular the JUST Egg. So yummy!

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

If I purchase a tie, the options may be less prevalent but there isn’t anything particularly difficult to find comparatively.

Talk about a time when you struggled with your Veganism? 

It’s not my intention to discredit individuals who may have struggled with veganism, as there is a higher recidivism rate than we want to acknowledge, but thankfully nothing comes to mind where veganism has presented a struggle in my personal or professional life. However, this isn’t always the case with everyone; if anyone has struggled there are resources from documentaries, books, local vegan MeetUp groups and more to help with any questions. 

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