Being Vegan, Vegan Being – Veronica Quesenberry – I Want to Dispel the “Pious Vegan” Stereotype

I am 20-years-old (21 on January 5, 2017), and I am currently a full-time student at the University of Florida. I am in my third year of study, majoring in journalism with a concentration in film and media. I grew up with my father in the military (Air Force) so I have lived in several places across the country, but I am currently spending my time between Gainesville, FL at school and my parents current home in Niceville, FL. In addition to school, I am currently working three internships. The first is The Establishing Shot, an organization that publishes work about entertainment from millennials’ perspectives. I am a senior editor and writer and I have written articles in the comedy/indie/horror/sci-fi thriller genre. The second is a journalist/blogger position with the Cinema Verde International Film & Arts Festival. I write articles for Cinema Verde that are published on its sister website. I write/blog about Cinema Verde, donating and the movies Cinema Verde will show during its film festival (Feb. 9-12, 2017 in Gainesville, FL). My third internship starts on January 1, 2017, and it is with College Fashionista as a Style Guru. I will be writing about topics ranging from fashion to beauty and lifestyle. These internships could not be perfect for me as they cover all my favorite topics: Fashion, beauty, movies, television, entertainment, environmentalism and environmental sustainability.

What was the moment you realize that you wanted to go vegan?

I was a vegetarian for two years before I went vegan. I watched Food, Inc. my senior year of high school and I was disgusted with how agribusinesses treated animals, how we as consumers basically demanded it. Two years later, this past January, I had been following several vegetarian accounts on Instagram as well as several animal sanctuaries. The research and studies then found me. These accounts started posting about going vegan and why everyone should be vegan. I did more research for myself and I knew that it was the best option. I thought I was doing the most by going vegetarian, but after researching the dairy and egg industry, I realized I was wrong. That’s when I decided to go vegan. It was my 2016 New Year’s resolution, and I decided that right after my twentieth birthday I would make the switch, which is exactly what I did.

How long have you been Vegan?

This January it will be a year!

Why is being Vegan important to you?

Being vegan is important to me for many reasons. My vegan journey started because of cruelty toward animals. I could not stand being a part of the reason for the unnecessary, inhumane treatment and slaughter of innocent animals. Since then I have learned the benefits being vegan has in relation to the environment and my personal health. I have a clearer conscious knowing that my lifestyle isn’t harming the environment like it was before, and I have never felt physically better than I do now.

Do you have a blog or favorite vegan blog you read?

I have a vegan fashion blog, The Vegan Queue. I read several different blogs, but I really enjoy Holly Rose’s blog leotielovely on blogspot and Instagram. I also frequent the Ethical Writers Coalition (@ethical writers) on Instagram to discover sustainable/vegan writers and read their stories/blogs.

Any recommended Vegan books?

I don’t own any vegan books, but I look up articles and sections of books on Peta and related websites for information.

Any recommended social sites, Facebook Groups or other?

I don’t have a Facebook, but I follow many vegan accounts on Instagram and Twitter. I follow @vegancommunity, @thrivemags, @vegan, @veganstreet, @vegnews and @bestofvegan just to name a few. I feel that the magazines and news outlets that I follow are the most helpful because they address food, beauty, and organizations that I may not have been familiar with or have discovered on my own.

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

Food, Inc., Cowspiracy and Forks Over Knives have been the most impactful in regards to my diet. I also think that Blackfish is very important in regards to animal rights and going completely cruelty-free. (I’ve heard Earthlings is also very important, but I have not watched it yet so I can’t give my opinion!)

Do you actively promote veganism? How? Please share any stories you would like.

I actively promote veganism with my blog, with the food I eat, the clothes I wear and the products I use. Living in a dorm and going to a large university I encounter new and different people every day. They see what I’m doing, what I’m wearing and what I’m using and they ask questions or make comments and that’s when I’m able to tell them I’m vegan and explain what veganism is and how easy and fun it is to go vegan.

Do you miss any non-Vegan foods?

My mum is half French, so I was raised on a vast area of amazing cheeses, creams, and dairy. I miss those but cheese the most. I still live with my family and no one else is vegan, so I think I miss cheese because I am still surrounded by it all the time. I have yet to find vegan brie/camembert cheese near me!

What is your favorite Vegan meme?

I really like the Mean Girls meme where it says something like “God, Karen you can’t ask people why they’re hypocrites”. I die every time I see it, it’s hilarious.

What is your favorite Vegan stereotype? If someone asks you a question about it, how do you respond?

I think it’s funny when people either 1.) assume it’s impossible because it’s too expensive to be vegan or 2.) think they’ll be protein deficient if they go vegan. I tell them that I’m a college student, and I’m still vegan! And when they ask where I get my protein, I give them a complete breakdown of how many vegetables, nuts, legumes, etc. have more protein than most meat in a single serving.

What’s your favorite Vegan restaurant?

I live in the south, and not the cool parts of the south like Atlanta, Miami or Orlando, so there are barely any vegan-only restaurants. I have found restaurants near the University of Florida, like Curia on the Drag and Karma Cream that are specifically vegan to my knowledge, and I really love their food. It’s difficult for me because I’m also allergic to wheat so I have to consider that when eating out. When all else fails, French fries are my favorite thing to get at any restaurant.

What’s your favorite recipe? Please share it.

I recently learned how to make vegan deviled eggs and I am completely in love! How I make it is I bake a few potatoes, and once they’re done I cut them in half before scooping out most the center, like the eggs in deviled eggs. I take what I scooped out and I mix it with avocado and seasonings, like salt, pepper, garlic, etc. Some people add mayo, but that’s personal preference. I sometimes like to add onion to the mixture. Then, I scoop the mixture into the baked potato and top it with some paprika, and voila!

What is the one big stereotype you hear about Vegans that you want to dispel?

I want to dispel the “pious vegan” stereotype. A lot of nonvegans get offended because they think vegans think they’re better than everyone else because they don’t indulge in animal products. This usually turns people off from going vegan because they don’t want to become “Holier than thou” or judgmental like they perceive vegans to be. Vegans aren’t snobby or judgmental, we just don’t condone abusing and exploiting animals, and we don’t enjoy being taunted by people doing so either. Once you get to know a vegan/vegans, you’ll understand how compassionate we really are.

Some encouraging words for new Vegans?

Don’t give up! It’s really hard, especially if you’re not familiar with the taste of soy, but it gets better! Remember the reason you went vegan and focus on that. Thinking about the animals, the environment, your health or whatever your motives may be will help you power through any moment of weakness.

Are you a cruelty-Free vegan?

Yes! I have transitioned almost my entire life to being vegan and cruelty-free. Obviously, it is very hard to be 100% vegan, especially when there’s not always a disclaimer identifying something as not completely vegan, but the actions you take that don’t exploit animals and their by-products are what make a bigger impact.

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

I love many vegan non-food products/companies! I really like Toms of Maine’s products to start. I use their toothpaste, mouthwash, and deodorant. I also like Jason’s products. I use their tea tree oil, body wash and vitamin E. I really like e.l.f.’s makeup products, because I know that I can use any of their makeup, their brushes or their wipes. That peace of mind knowing that all of a company’s products are vegan and not having to worry about labels is what really makes a product worthwhile for me.

What is the toughest Vegan item to find that you need? Toothpaste, Deo, glue, etc.

Stationery and office products are the hardest things to find! Because even if it is a vegan product the company itself may not be vegan and it is difficult to find necessities that are vegan and cruelty-free.

Talk about a time when you struggled with your Veganism?

I only ever struggle with veganism when there is a specific item, like cake or a cheese platter, that is offered to me and the only thing that stands in my way of having it is being vegan. That’s when I remind myself why I went vegan and I’m no longer tempted. Don’t be discouraged easily; even if you’re the only vegan you know you’re still not alone!

Where can I find more vegan products/food/restaurants?

Do your research! Make friends, reach out! Google everything. When you go vegan, you have to do a lot of legwork to figure out what products and food you like and what ultimately works for you. If you’re more educated on veganism, what you can or can’t have, where you can or can’t go, then you’ll be a happier, more successful vegan.

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