Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Danielle, I’m vegan, and I go by “Vegan Danielle”. I know. Super clever. I live in San Diego, CA and my official job falls under “Marketing”, however, I’m more of an audio producer than a marketing wiz. I manage a podcast network called “Specialty Produce Network”. The studio is inside of Specialty Produce; San Diego’s largest produce distributor.
Aside from being the full-time producer, I also host my own podcast; you guessed it!… Vegan Danielle!
You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, Spotify, SoundCloud, iTunes, and as of next week, iHeartRadio. Instead of trying to memorize all of these handles, just go on my website, www.VeganDanielle.com. All of them are listed there =)
What lead you to veganism? How long ago?
It was kind of a funny story. It was a few weeks before Thanksgiving, 2015. I knew nothing about veganism. I was just walking through the kitchen and I said out loud, “I love animals! I’m not sure why I eat them!” I went on to Google and typed in “how to not eat animals” (or something similar) and had no idea the popularity of veganism. The Google search led me to a few documentaries; Earthlings and Vegucated were the first two I watched. After that (and while in tears), I took all the animal products out of the fridge and donated them to my neighbors. I was tempted to throw away my leather, but stopped myself, “If an animal died to make this purse, jacket, whatever, I’d like to cherish it for as long as possible, rather than just throwing it away!” So that’s what I did.
When you first went vegan how did you phase out your non-vegan food, clothing and other items?
I answered the question regarding the food.. As far as clothing and other items, I still have some. I’ve just been using things until I cannot anymore. This also goes for non-cruelty-free makeup, lotion and other products.
Do you make any exceptions for yourself?
I don’t have children, but in regard to myself; I’ve got to admit I haven’t been 100% perfect with it. I haven’t eaten a single piece of animal flesh since I went vegan, but I know there have been a few times where I’ve purchased or eaten something without reading all of the ingredients, only to find that it contained some milk derivative. I’ve never knowingly or purposefully bought any food or makeup with animal products, or that is tested on animals.
Do you believe we should show children the process of how animals are turned into meats?
Yes, but I believe there’s stages; just like when moms talk to kids about the birds and the bees. There’s no reason, in my opinion, to show a 4-year-old what happens in a slaughterhouse. I feel that it’s enough to tell them that we don’t eat animals because animals are our friends. I think it’s more appropriate to fully show them everything when they start questioning more. Of course, every child is different.
What does being vegan mean to you?
This is a loaded question. I do not intentionally kill any living creatures that are not harming anyone, however, I have thrown bugs (snails, grubs) over my backyard fence when I’ve found them in my garden. In regard to patronizing vegan companies owned by non-vegan companies: I’ve jumped around a little on my thoughts on this one. Currently, I try my best to eat, shop, involve myself with fully vegan companies. However, I’ve realized that the larger brands (let’s look at the merge of Tyson and Beyond Burger for example) have more of a financial ability to promote the companies, and therefore can reach more people. Also, we vote with our dollars, so if Tyson sees an increase in vegan items, and a decrease in chicken breast, their supply will have to consequently go down. Yeah, the money is still going to the big bad animal ag, but because I believe it will be A LONG TIME before the majority of the population is vegan, I feel that it’s a half-way point.
That being said, I try my very best to ONLY BUY from completely vegan companies, not owned by parent companies, when it comes to cosmetics. There is no reason for me to purchase from, iT Cosmetics, for example. They mark their products as “cruelty free”, but are owned by L’Oréal, which is one of the biggest and cruelest cosmetic companies. The reason I feel this situation is different is because I don’t think L’Oreal would ever consider not selling cruel products – they just find other ways to profit when people find out they test on animals. Vanity is never worth another living creature’s life.
Is it every vegan’s duty to become an activist?
Duty, no. I would never force anyone to do anything, nor should anyone else. I’m very much on the Libertarian’s view of the Non-Aggression Principle. However, I think activism is important; without it, many of us wouldn’t be vegan today.
I do think there are many forms of activism, though. You don’t have to be marching in front of Sea World dressed as an Orca, covered in fake blood. You can make healthy recipes and share them online, you can volunteer for animal rescues, you can post about vegan-related facts, or maybe even start a podcast.
How compassionate or empathetic are you towards non-vegans?
I used to not be, at all. It would sadden me when I would talk to people that didn’t care at all. I was really angry. Now, occasionally, that anger comes back, but for the most part, I try to stay open-minded and remember we all have different journeys in life. What frustrates me is when people are ignorant and make comments like, “mmmm… bacon”, or jokes like, “vegans only eat grass”. The comments are only intended to anger vegans, and they’re 100% fact-lacking.
Any recommended Vegan books?
The China Study, Forks Over Knives and countless cookbooks
Any recommended social sites, blogs or pages?
My first thought is my friend and gastroenterologist, Dr. Angie Sadeghi. She’s very straightforward and full of facts. She’s on Instagram at @Angie.Sadeghi
What’s your favorite Vegan restaurant?
I have to pick one? Shoot. Loving Hut Mira Mesa has never disappointed me.
Please share your favorite vegan recipe.
Geez. You did it to me again. One. Favorite. Recipe? Probably the one I had published in Z-Code Magazine. Here’s the link: Danielle’s Vegan Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
Some encouraging words for new Vegans?
Don’t give up. If you eat a piece of meat, it’s ok, start back up on the next meal. You’re not counting days of sobriety; you don’t have to start over! Also, fully educate yourself on the environment-impact as well as the cruelty that goes on in factory farming. Hopefully those images or facts will overpower your desire to eat animal products. Also, meal prep! It’s SO CHEAP and convenient; especially if you don’t have a lot of vegan restaurants near your work or school.
What is the vegan scene like in your city?
I feel like we’re super spoiled here in San Diego! Not quite as many options as Los Angeles, but enough!
What personal recommendations can you make for people to meet other vegans?
Social media! Search the hashtags, #vegan #veganfood #veganrecipes or more area specific like #VeganInSanDiego or #SanDiegoVegans
What does living cruelty-free mean to you? Does it extend to the way you as a vegan treats other humans too?
Living cruelty-free = Do as little harm as possible. For me, that extends to opting out of plastic straws, requesting recycling be done at work and not intentionally wasting anything.
Ooooooh. This is a hard one. I’d love to sound super spiritual and tell you that humans are animals, so we should be nice to them too, but I’d be fibbing a bit. I do feel that it’s extremely important for us to treat all animals, including humans, with respect. There are a lot of self-centered, self-willed people out there that will beat an animal just for the fun of it. I would NEVER allow that to happen if I were in their presence. I do have a much lower tolerance for humans than animals, because, well, we’re supposed to be smarter and have empathy. That’s a hard one for me, but I’m learning to be more understanding.
What are you favorite Vegan non-food products or companies?
Hmmmmm… I actually don’t know
Talk about a time when you struggled with your Veganism?
Do you mean a time where it was hard for me to remain vegan? Or had a hard time because people can be jerks? I’m assuming you mean the initial. I can’t really think of a time where I absolutely HAD TO HAVE something that wasn’t vegan. I can tell you that the most frustrating thing about being vegan is when 60% of the people I talk to honestly ask, “Where do you get your protein?”. I’m not mad at the people, I’m frustrated with the impact that animal agriculture-sponsored advertisements have had on the masses. It sickens me that people still think milk is good for you and vegetables don’t have protein. We’re in a state in misinformation and closed-minded people.